Going to my last two years of high school entailed driving eight miles to our
little town and riding a school bus for 30 miles to a bigger town that had about
300 high school kids. I played a lot of hands of pitch on these trips, and did
quite a bit of reading. My cousin started writing cowboy poetry on these same
trips, and it wasn't even a fad in those days.
Our driver was an older feller that had trucked cattle for years. He kinda semi-retired, and thought driving a school bus would be a piece of cake. Was he ever in for a surprise. Old Louie had hauled cattle a lot for my dad, and he and I hit it off pretty well. Most of the rest of the kids realized right off the bat that Louie's bark was worse than his bite. They more or less ran over the top of him from then on.
Louie was always hollering for the kids to "Sit down and shut up!" They did neither. They would be up darting from seat to seat, and all of a sudden Louie would hit the brakes. Those up and about would take a tumble, but it was just a short-term fix. Soon they would be back to their old tricks. One time a boy of about sixteen was sitting half-way back in the bus. He was eating an orange. Another boy was sitting right behind Louie with a squirt gun. Periodically he would shoot the back of the bus driver's neck or the large mirror in front with water. Louie would look up and holler, "If you kids can't eat your oranges without squirting me, I will not allow any more food on this bus." (We had to carry lunches, as there was no hot lunch program in school at the time).
One time Louie was chewing everyone out, and as usual no one was paying him the slightest attention. All of a sudden he quit talking, and the instant silence made everyone look up. He had quit speaking in mid-sentence because his false teeth had fallen out. They were laying in the dirty center aisle of the bus. He had to reduce speed and reach down to pick up the teeth. After brushing them off as best he could with his handkerchief, he reinstalled them in his mouth and continued with his speech.
One year of that job was enough. Louie fully retired after that, and spent his spare time fishing.
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