Morrow County Reflections: School opening reminds her of buses

Watching the school buses pass by the house as students begin a new year triggers memories of riding those yellow buses not only to school but as a band member, the bus taking us to away football games and other events.

Those buses had a heater, but we only benefited from it if we sat in the first two rows. The further back one sat, the colder my feet got but being a teenager I didn’t notice it much because of the excitement of traveling with class and band mates.

On the other hand, reading through my mother’s life notes, she relates her experience riding an old wooden hearse transformed into a bus — pulled by a team of horses. She was a six and seven year old student at Gooseheaven, a one-room school at the end of what was then known as Gooseheaven Road; now known as County Road 169. It was also the road my mother lived on.

That school was the first one room to close and its students then attended Cardington. This was about 1917 or 1918.

She said the wooden bus, driven by George Utter, would arrive at 7 a.m. in the darkness. He had a lantern hanging on the side of the conveyance because of the darkness. The hearse had seats in it and a fire box under- neath in the center and it was fired from the outside. Because she was first on the bus and had to ride the longest, she sat over the register.

The driver dropped students off at the house on today’s 529 at the north end of today’s Road 168. From there they walked to the school on Nichols Street. Mr. Utter meanwhile was picking up more students. “The janitor let us who came early, play billiards there in the school until class time,” she recalled.

My mother was an artist and I remember as I grew up the many times, there was a bus in our yard that she was lettering for the school.

Looking back 70 years, the district had eight buses in 1947 and the following drivers: Paul Fleming, Jr., Russell Patterson, Guy Rhineberger, Noble Skinner, Don Ebert, Bill Schrote, Wilbur McAlister and Carl Williams. Several of our teachers and administrators doubled as bus drivers through the years.

I remember one of my bus drivers had a wiener roast for the students on his bus once a year.

Today, the school has eight buses, but those buses drive double routes.

I know these buses are much more comfortable today. In fact, Cardington-Lincoln School Superintendent Brian Petrie noted at the recent meeting of the Board of Education, he had ridden on one of the new buses and “they are very comfortable.”

Like so many parts of our lives, we’ve come a long way, even with school buses. But I treasure those memories.

NEWS FROM THE UNION REGISTER AUGUST 1947: All schools in the Morrow County system were to open Sept. 2, according to County Superintendent F.E. Honnold. Children ages 5 to 17 in the county that were counted during the summer totaled 3,450.

This was up from 3,175 in 1946. Cardington school’s enrollment was estimated at 625, exceeding last year’s record breaking figure. More than 70 children were expected in the school’s first grade, according to Superintendent Lowell Patterson.

A mass public meeting was to take place on Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. in Levering Hall, Mount Gilead, to discuss the possibility of a hospital for Morrow County.

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By Evelyn Long

The Sentinel

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