OUR NEW SCHOOL BUS

A Memory by Mildred Filbrun Heck  

There are times, as I write this in the year 1996, when I find it frustrating trying to recall what I did yesterday.  But my 82-year-old memory is very clear about riding to school in the new buses of Wayne Township School in the 1920s.

Wayne School was a small, newly-centralized township school in Montgomery County, Ohio.  The new building of eight home classrooms to house grades one through twelve was built in 1919.  My grandfather, Sam Smith, was on the school board at that time.  (That original building on Taylorsville Road is still being used as Titus Elementary School.)  My father, Edward C. Filbrun, helped build the foundation for the new school.  (He also later served on the school board and the present Filbrun Hall in Huber Heights was named in his honor.) 

In the 1920s the new school had a small number of up-to-date Ford school buses.  Parents of students were encouraged to drive these buses in order to save expenses – no training required.  My father drove a bus in the winter when his farm work was light, my mother drove when fieldwork demanded Dad’s attention.  Their route covered our area of the township – the Shull Road, the Wildcat Road and the northern part of Old Troy Pike.

My parents’ school bus looked just like the ‘sleek’ model pictured here, but with one difference.  Our bus had isinglass coverings on the windows that could be raised or let down from the inside (sort of like a motorized version of “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”.)   There was a small door at the driver’s side and a door with two steps at the rear for the kids to use.  (The windows had to serve as emergency exits.)  

A narrow aisle ran down the center of the bus and the seats were narrow and of hard wood.  The sides and roof were also made of wood and painted a dull black.  The motor could only be started by rapidly turning the iron crank that hung in front of the radiator.  Under the driver’s seat was a tire repair kit for flats that was a definite necessity, given the mostly unpaved roads the bus traveled.  A bucket hung on the side of the bus for filling an overheated radiator from a farmhouse well or roadside stream. The bus often had to stop in bad weather so the older boys could wipe the rain or snow from the windshield.

In my first year of school, when spring came, I refused to get on the bus.  I saw no reason to sit in school when it was so sunny and pleasant playing outside on the farm.  So whichever of my parents was driving the bus would instruct the older boys to go into the house and carry me out to the school bus.  They did – and I was unceremoniously dumped on board to the accompaniment of loud laughter from all the kids.  It was my first – but not my last - humiliating experience.

- This story has been edited by Mrs. Heck’s brother, William S. Filbrun -

"Our New School Bus" - Mildred Filbrun Heck - all rights reserved.  Permission to reproduce it or any part thereof must be obtained from the filbrun.com webmaster.

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