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Out On The Mudline

Touring Is Great Fun In A Big Yellow Bus

By W. P. Sissell

Ever Been to New York?

Not long ago, as we passed through Senatobia on our way to Memphis, we met a southbound convoy of several school buses. I thought about my dear friend who accompanied me on so many trips to pick up and deliver school busses for Magnolia Sales. I began this work as a sometimes job a couple of years before retiring from teaching.  

Almost always there was some interesting event that took place on these trips. My friend and office mate at Northwest Community College was always interested in these stories and before long made a trip with us when we needed an extra driver.  After that first trip, when I called his only question was, “What time are we leaving?” We learned many interesting things about our state—example—to get to the bus shop in what county do you have to pass five oil/gas wells?

My story today relates to a trip that took place even before Bill Cole took over the business, although I did pick up a bus in New Jersey on one occasion for Mr. Cole. Just before I left I heard Mr. Bill Cole tell the man in New Jersey that he would recognize me without any trouble. When I arrived at Mr. Johnson???s bus shop there was only one person to be found—he was sweeping the already very clean floor.  As I walked up behind him I said in a put on southern drawl, “Mmrr. JJoohhnnssoonn”—he replied before I finished— “Hello Mr. Sissell.”

The Company

Many years ago Mr. “Bub” Craig was sent to Canton, Mississippi to work with the milk producers in that area. While there, Mr. Craig joined forces with a friend to form the business, Magnolia Sales. Eventually Mr. Craig came back to his home in Batesville and later sold his part of the business to Bill Cole.

Most of us do not realize that the building of and sales and movement of the big yellow vehicles is of world wide scope. I delivered two to Port number one in New Orleans. The purchaser told me to park the busses at a service station on Elysian Fields near the port, call him, and he would come guide me to his place on the pier.  When I got to the filling station I found that the busses would take up three fourths of the stations pump access—but Dewey Meredith, Louis Snyder and I made it—almost backed those busses onto the ship.

There was the occasion long before my time when Mr. Craig bought ten busses from a company in New York City. This was to be some kind of trip. I will not, although I remember some, attempt to name the drivers (I think they were all qualified bus drivers).  As you will see all were not accustomed to driving anything but a/their regular bus route.

The trip to New York was uneventful but it took most of two days to make and they were in cramped positions – six to a car.  I have an idea of the general direction of the trip—this was before the day of the interstate system. I was in army camps in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey and it took ten hours to come by bus from Columbia, South Carolina.  .

When the drivers arrived at the bus yard in New York it was late mid afternoon and the vehicles were lined up, fueled, oil checked and lo and behold they all cranked (sometimes this was not the case but always had/must be checked). The final check took close to an hour. Instructions were given to follow the leader—do not get separated (nobody thought about telling every last one of the drivers to be sure that that bus behind made every light).

Most of the drivers had driven in Memphis—a few at rush hour. Nobody told them that it was always rush hour in New York City but they found out as soon as they reached the street.  At the first traffic light they were separated—at the second light they were again separated—at the third there were buses headed for Mississippi in half the boroughs in New York City. Of the twelve busses only the first two or so were still traveling toward the New Jersey state line. The others were scattered all over the place.  A policeman happened to ask one of the bus drivers about his destination.  When he found that destination he broadcast an all points bulletin to gather all the buses heading for Mississippi on the New York side of the New Jersey state line.  There they got all the drivers out of their bus so that they could ask them to PLEASE not buy any more New York busses.

I think the Magnolia Sales people heard them for other than that New Jersey trip (one bus) we picked up busses in Iowa, North Georgia, South Georgia, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

Have you ever been to New York City? I saw the lady (the statue of liberty) as I left the harbor on a troop transport and when I returned—once I saw the city on a tour. When I left on the troop train I could see the speedometer on the locomotive as it bounced around ninety-three. Outside there was nothing but a blur of red—brick walls. I love my Mississippi hills.

Our wish for you is a great week.  Our soybeans do need a big drink—we’ve had some showers.  

You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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