After six times on the operating table last year I had to leave my bus route rather abruptly before the end of school. The driver who took over was a "redneck" type fellow from Tombstone Arizona who was missing one front tooth. I was somewhat reluctant to leave my beautiful students in his care.
The first day of school each year is a notable event for students which sometimes involves new schools, new teachers and new bus drivers that they will be spending the next nine months with. As I approached my group pickups on the first day of school this year I could see the students straining to see through the reflective windshield to identify who the driver was. As they got on I could see some smiles and restrained approval that Mr. "B" was back. On my next to the last pickup the restraint was lifted as one of the junior high girls that had been on my route for three years gave a shriek of joy upon seeing me. At first I thought it might have been because of my rugged good looks. On second thought it was probably just because I was well groomed and had all of my front teeth.
After I got everyone on board I took the PA microphone and welcomed the students 20% of who were new to the bus. I told them I was called Mr. "B". To my surprise the bus erupted in cheers with fist pumping in the air.[ Now I'm thinking maybe it is because of my rugged good looks.] I went on to tell them that my bus rules were pretty simple. Stay in your seats while the bus is moving. Don't throw things and no jumping out of the windows at speeds over 35 mph. The new students seemed confused at the last instruction. The pay is still $12.50/hr. The cheers were priceless.
After a few weeks I decided that I would sing to them each Friday morning. I had much to sing about. I had lived through six operations. I had made it through a summer on The Sweetwater with John as my boss and I was looking forward to a Arizona winter with of my children and grandchildren. I doubt that when manufactuerers of "Thomas" buses mounted eight speakers in the rounded metal roof of a 40 ft. school bus they were thinking of the singing bus driver. The acoustical effects are quite remarkable.
The first Friday I selected the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer that has beautifully been put to music. I told them to listen carefully to the words.
As a second number that day I had them join me in singing from Disney's " It's A Small Small World". They were quite good at this one.
The next Friday I sang the version of " Ghost Riders In The Sky" made famous by Johnny Cash . This song too has a cowboy message.
The third week the PA system broke down so it was a "no song Friday" without explaination. To my surprise a half of dozen students asked me on the way off the bus why I hadn't sang that morning. Well that is all us "aging" transportation entertainers need is a little encoragement and who knows when and where we will be singing. I think Johnny Cash would be proud.
Coming up this week is a short song from "Oklahama"