School buses are on our roads because a new school year is underway. Oftentimes when I see a school bus I am reminded of a delightful array of memories and family stories. Those memories are not so much about riding the school bus as they are about the bus drivers and the bus stops. Nevertheless, here are some of those random memories and stories.

A school bus without a mufflerIt all starts with Mama. The late Guy Griffin was Mama’s paternal uncle. He drove the school bus which she and my aunts and uncles rode everyday. That bus had no muffler. The Whitfield County school personnel couldn’t seem to get it repaired. The entire community heard Uncle Guy crank that bus every morning. The children knew when they heard that bus that it was time to get to the bus stop. Uncle Guy was never late.

A bully at the bus stopDaddy grew up in the Coosa community. There was a bully in those days terrorizing everybody on the bus. One morning before school, Daddy, my aunts, uncles and several children were waiting for the bus. The bully approached Daddy, and said something Daddy didn’t like. Daddy went at him like a tornado and a fight ensued. That bully never bothered anybody again.

The bus stop at Allen’s 5 & 10When my brother Steve was going to East Rome Junior High, he and his friends caught the bus on Broad Street in front of Allen’s 5 & 10. They bought popcorn from Allen’s for 10 cents a bag. Steve said it was the best popcorn in the world.

Years later, when I attended East Rome Junior High, the bus stop to north Rome continued to be in front of Allen’s 5 & 10. Every afternoon my friends and I bought popcorn from Allen’s for 25 cents a bag. The best popcorn ever.

My children attended Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta High School. Their middle school bus driver was Ms. Snipes, actor Wesley Snipes’ cousin. Ms. Snipes would not tolerate any foolishness on that bus. Every day she got my children to school and home safely. In appreciation of that, I often baked blueberry muffins for her. I put the muffins in a basket. Attached to the basket, was a gift tag which the children made. Using a black Sharpie, the children drew a bus on yellow construction paper, wrote the bus route number on it and cut out the drawing of the bus. I used white curly ribbon to attach the gift tag to the basket. The children gave Ms. Snipes the basket when they got on the bus that morning. My children and I enjoyed surprising her because we wanted her to know we appreciated her.

Thank you, school bus driversI mentioned that when I see a school bus, I am reminded of an array of memories having to do with school bus drivers, and bus stops. But there’s more. When I see a school bus around Rome, I pray for the bus drivers and all the students that will have been on their buses that day. I pray for the family, teachers, coaches, band directors and counselors of those students.

God bless school bus drivers everywhere. For getting our children safely to school and home everyday, thank you school bus drivers, one and all!

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, avid cyclist, history enthusiast and ardent reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com.