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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Things Change, part 2 or so

When Janet and I were first married, we were starting our senior year in college, and were both “on our own” financially, so, in addition to classes, working in plays, and “honeymooning” (We had too many commitments to have a honeymoon) we both worked.  Janet worked in the college library, and I had three jobs: I worked in a shoe store, I drove a school bus, and in my spare time I sold Hi Fi (this was a pre stereo world) equipment in a direct sales situation.

One day as I was driving my school bus on its morning expedition, with a forty foot bus loaded with Junior High School and what would now be called “middle school” age kids, some students in the back of the bus started fighting.  I saw nothing but fists and other children leaving their seats to get a good view. 

I stopped the bus, walked to the rear, forced all to their seats and took the fighters out of their fight, separating them by moving one of them to the front of the bus.   Our instructions were: “If students get into a fight on the bus, drive the bus directly to the “bus barn” notify the transport manager of the facts (this was also pre-two way radio and pre-cell phones), and hold the students on the bus till school authorities arrive.  The authorities turned out to be an assistant superintendant of schools and a deputy sheriff.

By the time the “authorities” arrived the students had been sitting in a parked bus for about fifteen minutes and were “restive” at best. (They were yelling about missed classes and homerooms, and otherwise generally yelling)  When the Deputy parked next to the bus they quieted quickly.  He came to the door and asked me to tell the students to file out one by one, and leave nothing on the bus. 
Anything left on the bus would be thrown away.

The students did as they were asked, and as each one came off the bus he/she was taken to a closed off area and searched, along with all their backpacks (not many, this was also a pre-backpack to school era) and books.

This was in a town of about fifteen thousand (including suburbs) that was pretty much considered a peaceful place, without gang activity, and where youth in general were considered pretty upright, so I was shocked at the end of the time to find that they had taken five sets of brass knuckles and a couple of switchblades from the students.  The deputy then came into the bus and searched, finding another two sets of brass knuckles and four rolls of pennies or nickels.  (He explained that rolls of coins clamped in the fist made a pretty good weapon and kept the knuckles from being broken).

This was my hometown, and I was aware of, and in my time even participated in, the occasional fight during recess or after school, but the amount and types of weaponry in my thirteen and under year old bus riders shocked me.

After the search, the students (all, even those with weapons) filed quietly back on the bus and I took them to their schools.  (This was only the second of three trips I made in the morning, but someone else had been sent to pick up the students in my third trip.)  I will say that the students in my second route were very well behaved for the rest of the school term.


At 6:56 AM, Blogger Norma said...

Love your stories. Gee, librarians don't get any of the good stories.


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