Busing Once Meant Getting Kids Home Safely
By W. P. Sissell
Nannette and I attended the visitation for one of our former students. The young man had been quite a character in his school days and had many friends. This was attested by the number of visitors at the funeral home. He was an artist when it came to restoring a wrecked automobile to its original state.
One of those visitors was a young man who attended the Crowder School while we taught there. In a conversation with this young man I heard the basis of my story for today. Thomas was one of those lucky youngsters who was a good athlete and played football. His story about getting home after a night game really touched me. This was a day in the days when every student, or maybe I should say only a few students, had their own automobile. If I had thought about it I could have remedied the getting home after the game situation.
After playing an away game the team bus would arrive back at the school in the early morning hours. Although it should have been the coach’s responsibility (and some did assume this responsibility) to get the players home, this was not always the case. In many cases the coach lived in someplace other than Crowder. In the case Thomas mentioned (he mentioned no coach’s name) there was a group of boys who lived to the southwest of the school who planned to walk home (their folks were agreeable). They arrived back at the school at something like one thirty in the morning. After stowing their gear in the dressing room they got together and set our for home. Everything went well until they got about one third of the way to the main road on which most of them lived. One of the fellows asked (it was a dark moonless night), “You fellows know that we’re going to pass the cemetery in a minute?” The question immediately stopped the walkers for a conference. Thomas told us several times about how eerie he felt. The conference decision was that they would go back to the dressing room (they still had the key) and spend the remainder of the night there. Thomas’ last comment was that he didn’t know that buildings creaked in the night but he believed that most of the boards in that gym creaked that night. He said that he didn’t remember ever going to sleep that night.
Years later, when I held the office of Panola County Superintendent of Education, I made it legally possible for those boys and girls (children) who got back to their home school after games to have transportation awaiting to carry them home. Some of you might remember South Panola County bus number 128 which travelled the roads many nights during the year when, technically, schools were not in session but it was getting school children home who had been representing your schools.
You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, or (662) 563-9879.
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