First posted June 14, 2010.
My wife, Becki, drove a school bus for the Woodstock CT School system. The Superintendent of schools had a name for Becki – “Lead Foot”. We were talking one morning about how riled up the kids get at the very end of the school year. This conversation reminded me of our own antics on the school bus when I was a kid in Rowayton. I don’t recall that there was any school bus service to Rowayton School which was well centered in the town. Most of us could walk or bike to school.
After sixth grade in September of 1955 the RowaytonKids who didn’t go to private school in my class (me, Lenny Calendriello, Paul Tebo, Dick Willmott, Pat Dawson, and a handfull of others) were bused to junior high in South Norwalk where we had double sessions. I have forgotten the name of the school and whether we were in the morning or afternoon session. The following year we would enter the new West Rocks Junior High School at the northern end of Norwalk. I wrote about some 7th grade experiences here (sorry; fixed the link), one of which was a final day experience on the school bus outside the school.
For several years from 7th grade through 9th grade we were transported on a yellow bus to junior high. Once we got to Norwalk High we used the public bus to and from Stamford. On the school bus I’m not sure what the route home was, but somehow we ended up heading south on Rowayton Avenue toward the canon where a group of us would be let off after rounding the canon to the east side on the corner of Wilson Avenue. Leading up to that joyous last day of school a number of us would conspire to leave the bus out the back emergency door forcing the bedraggled driver to get up and exit the bus to close the door after we had fled the scene. I can remember forcing open the door and leaping out. Then we ran like hell to get away from the scene of the crime. I’m embarrassed to say that this was as bad as we could be. Of course at the end of the summer vacation we had to face the music, and I remember thinking about that. But the bus driver guy never brought it up.
The other dastardly deed we did was on that same turn rounding the cannon as we exited off of Rowayton Avenue. We took note of the recklessness of the bus driver as he rounded the cannon. The bus would tilt radically to the right. In our mass hysteria, we collectively realized that we might be able to tip the bus on its side if we all moved to the right side of the bus as it veered off of Rowayton Avenue. I vaguely recall that Jerry Hayes was one of the cheer leaders to this potential tragedy (I can see the headlines in the Norwalk Hour about the dead and injured RowaytonKids on a late spring afternoon). We were all shocked when one afternoon … we almost succeeded in tipping the bus over. In retrospect, I think the bus driver was in with us in this noble endeavor because he made no attempt to reduce the speed of his turn.
Thank God more sane kids came along after us. You know who I am talking about: Jane, Sharon, Teddy, Joan, Kipp, Dirk, Chip, and all of the rest .Read More