They’d help shove the bus up the hill

Posted by | January 4, 2011

“It took about an hour and a half to get to school, and we were nearly always late. The road from Raccoon Creek, up Bowen Creek, and all the way to Salt Rock was muddy and axle deep. Sometimes we’d get stuck on Green Valley Hill, so the boys, they’d get out and help shove the bus up the hill.

“One time Ancil Ramey— that was Ripgear’s boy— slipped and fell underneath it, but the bus was sittin’ still at the time, and he was lucky it didn’t roll back on him and maybe kill ’im.

“Besides me, the others that rode the bus were: Tessie Keesee; Hattie Adkins, Ancil and Alfred Ramey; Ruth and Estel Bartram; Sue Adkins; Willis Adkins; Harry and Lorna Adkins, who walked to Bowen Creek and caught the bus from off Hickory Ridge; Ethel and Vernon Lucas; Thelma and Halsie and Verlie Childers; Iona Jenkins; Edithe Parsons; Verda Childers; John Ross; Thelma Walker, Ruby and Ritzel Lucas; Jane and John and Dorothy Holton; and Mabel and Nellie Bias.

“On the way to Barboursville, we’d get off in Salt Rock at DeJarnett’s Store and wait for the driver to make another run. Then he’d come back and pick us up and take us on to school. We didn’t have any money to buy anything at the store either. And once we got to school, they’d let us go and clean the mud off our shoes. Nobody ever complained, though. We were just glad to have a way to go to school.

“A few of the kids treated us different, but not many. Everybody was poor then. Most of us did without lunch almost everyday. It was the ’30s. There was no money. Some took their lunch, but a loaf of bread cost ten cents, so I couldn’t afford to take mine. They had homemade soup, homemade pie, and hamburgers for five cents each, but I couldn’t afford any o’ that either.

“My mother called me into the kitchen one mornin’ and gave me eight cents for lunch. And one day during lunch at school, I was standin’ in the hallway lookin’ out the window. Mrs. Spellman, one of the teachers, asked me if she could buy my lunch for me. I wouldn’t let her do it, though. I had too much pride.

“Now, Harry— we were just goin’ together then— he took biscuits to school but went to the boiler room to eat ’em. You see, he was ashamed to eat ’em in front of the other kids. Oh, we always had a hot breakfast before leavin’ home in the mornin’ and a meal waitin’ when we got home at night, but for the most part, we did without lunch.

“On the way home from school, we’d stop at Hatfield’s Grocery over at Roach, get off the bus, and wait there for the driver to come and pick us up and take us home. We’d stop in Salt Rock to fill up with gas, and the driver, he’d fill up two five-gallon cans with gas and put them on the bus, too, so we’d have enough for the trip back the next day. Imagine how dangerous that was.

“But, like I said— nobody ever complained. We didn’t get home till way after dark in the winter. Sometimes it might be as late as ten o’clock before we’d get home, and our parents, they’d be headin’ out lookin’ for us.

“When I was in the ninth grade, they gave us an I.Q. test. Fourteen out of the whole class made above average, and I was one of ’em. I quit school after tenth grade, though. Me and Harry got married. He wanted so bad to finish school, though.

“One semester, he went to Grayson, KY, and attended Christian Normal School, a place where he could work his way through. He was the only one old enough to drive, so his job was to make the runs for supplies. Harry, he got too homesick, so he came home and finished up at Barboursville, He was twenty-three when he graduated.”

Margaret Adkins
Raccoon Creek, WV

from “Margaret,” a family history by Adkins’ nephew David Lee Thompson on ‘River of Memories: An Appalachian Boyhood’ site.

2 Responses

  • Joan says:

    Tho it was quite a bit later, I remember the country school bus rides and the forged friendships and loves that lasted a lifetime. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Darrell Leap says:

    Thank you for posting this article. I am a good friend of David Thompson and read his book, “River of Memories” which I highly recommend. It brought back many memories of my own boyhood because my father’s family lived on Beech Fork near Racoon Creek and Bowen Creek and my mom’s lived in Lincoln County just a few miles from Salt Rock and over the hill from Bowen Creek. Family names mentioned in this article are very familiar. I was born in the 30’s, but too young to remember the school bus trips.

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