Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The bus, part II

Winters can be harsh in Warren County, Indiana.  When I was growing up, school could be called off for days at a time, and our dead-end road was one of the last in the county to get plowed.  We had huge snow storms in the winters of 1978 and 1979.  One year we were snowed in for 2 weeks straight.  The other year, we made it into town after one week to get groceries, it started snowing again before we got home and we were stuck in the house for another week.

But it was November of 1977 when our school bus got stuck in the snow.  I'm not talking about your normal "stuck," where you get a little too close to the edge of the road and get pulled into a snowbank.  Our bus got wedged.  

It happened on one of those blindingly bright winter days - not a cloud in the sky, with the sun reflecting off of every snowflake and icicle.  The bus was traveling down one of those nameless county gravel roads, somewhere between my house and Independence.  The snowplow had made a single pass, so there was one lane open on a road that stretched at least 3 miles.  (What happened if you met vehicle coming from the opposite direction?  Drivers got out of their cars, played rock-paper-scissors and the loser backed up?  I guess that speaks to how often that road was traveled...)  The snow on either side of the road was piled half way to the bus windows.  

The snowplow hadn't scrapped all of the snow off to the sides.   The packed down stuff that remained on the road was a little slippery, so the bus driver (not Sue - the nice one) was traveling at a slower than normal speed.  About a half a mile down the road, the bus started slowing down.  We heard some crunching noises, and the bus stopped moving.  The driver revved the engine and the tires spun.  Our bus was sandwiched between two hardened snowbanks.

The bus driver opened the emergency door in the back and jumped down to take a look at our situation.  He got busy doing...  something.  I didn't pay much attention to that.  I was just glad we were going to miss some of the school day.  The bus only carried about 20 kids at that point, and we were all thrilled at the break in our normal routine.

But the thrill wore off as time marched on...  I don't remember if buses had radios back then.  The driver might have had to walk to the nearest house to get help.  Either way, a guy with a tractor finally showed up and de-wedged us.  We arrived at school, just in time for lunch.

Our little escapade even made the local newspaper!  I saved the clipping!

Two Warren County school busses unaccounted for early this morning were located shortly before 11a.m. and school officials said at least three others - some with students in them - were stuck on county roads.
Supt. Bob Johnson said the drivers of the once-missing busses had set out at the regular time to pick up students with he lost contact with them...  Johnson said those busses were not full.  Another school bus became stuck northeast of Independence but a farmer used his tractor to free that bus...

The worst thing about that day?  Having lunch, going to two classes, and having to get back on the bus.

No comments:

Post a Comment