Story time---1952 Dodge school bus
This goes back to 1972,the statute of limitations has run out--But I'll have to leave a few details to the imagination any way.
My older brother told me to go to Johns house to see something.
With John that could mean any thing ,so naturally I hurried on over.
Sitting there was a 1952 Dodge 42 passenger school bus.
John was welding on a huge tow hitch at the time--
The time had come for my brother to move to California and this was the bus.
Soon the thing was painted with all the left over paint from the back room at Johns garage. John Deer green and a deep purple.
Paisley curtains-stove--table and beds----
And a trip was planned---(More after supper-Mike)
I'm fixin' popcorn...this is gonna be good
I was 18 at the time and the world looked like a fun place to see in a bus.
Our route was picked---Route 20 ---across Illinois---into Jackson Hole--into Idaho and on west to the coast then a left turn and into the redwoods. One road all the way.
The crew was to be My brother ,his girl friend ,my girl friend and myself.
My girl friend chickened out at the last minute---However,Ron was coming--
I never met Ron before the trip--he was just somebody who worked with my brother and was heading to California to break into show business.
Sounded like a plan---We started out late in the day--the bus had a miss in the engine that John couldn't fix--
So off we went---(later)
The late start left us driving in the dark by the time we neared Galena---
The flat lands were fine for that old six banger,but as the hills began she started to stumble and back fire.
It was my turn at the wheel,a fire in the dash board was cause for a short break. The misfire was getting worse when a state trooper showed up in the rear view mirror.
The narrow road and the hills made it impossible for the cop to pass,as we chugged along.
The stuffing in the pillows was one good reason not to get pulled over-----
Finally the road straightened out and the trooper buzzed on by.
It was just past two in the morning when we spotted a set of headlights . First car in a while.
The road took a slow bend to the west and the headlights grew closer. My brother was leaning on the drivers seat and said," I don't think that cars making the curve."
"Yep,I see that,too."
I waited as long as I dared before I healed the wheel over into the left lane to miss a head on crash.
Not quite far enough and not quite fast enough either.
In a split second that lasted an eternity the side of the bus was ripped,the glass from the flip flop doors did a perfect double flip and landed at my feet.
A dead silent thump sounded the landing of the big Pontiac into the ditch.
My first thought was of the VW bus hitched to the back of the bus and how long would it take to get the hurt to Galena. And did they even have a hospital there.
wow, ready for the continuation!
I rolled the bus over to the left shoulder of the road---
I knew we were all O.K. when Donna croaked out," What just happened?"
I took off on a run through the litter of broken auto parts in the road.
The car was sitting in the ditch facing nose to the road---one fender and wheel missing.
The engine was racing and blue smoke rose from the spinning rear wheel.
I stuck my face into the open drivers window ---the stench of alcohol explained a lot.
At that time Wisconsins drinking age was 18 and Illinois was 21.
What a surprise when a slurred voice said," Help us get this out of the ditch so it doesn't look so bad."
Three young guys in the car --no one seemed hurt---
I rolled the bus to the left hand shoulder of the road.
A choirs of ,"What just happened?" from the back of the bus told us that Donna and Ron were awake and unhurt.
I whispered," You take care of the bus." as I took off through the crumpled doors and made my way to the wrecked Pontiac.
The car was upright--deep in the ditch with the nose to the road.
The engine was racing full throttle and a haze of blue smoke rose from the spinning rear wheels.
Huh…...now you’re going backwards Mike. You must still be dazed from the wreck. :confused1:
I leaned into the open drivers window and was greeted with the stench of stale booze.
"Help us get this out of the ditch so it doesn't look so bad." Slurred the driver.
I ignored that and asked if anyone was hurt. Three drunks --dazed and confused but O.K.
I finally got the driver to shut off the car---I don't raise my voice often and this was no exception--I don't think he could hear me tell him that his car only had three wheels and was not going any where on its own.
I left the wreck soon enough,we had our own problems to deal with and these guys were beyond my help.
As I climbed back up to the road I could see that flares had been set---Chuck(my brother ) was down the road a stretch tossing something over a fence and Donna was already patching the smashed doors with a skirt and a roll of macrame string.
At least the cat wouldn't escape.
Soon a car drove through the debris field ---stupid driver didn't stop.
He must have made a call though,because soon enough a set of flashing lights crested the hill and a trooper had arrived.
Small world. He was the same officer that had been stuck behind the bus a little while ago.
Using as few words as possible,I filled in the trooper on the wreck and the condition of the guys in the other car.
He asked me to wait in his car.
Soon enough the driver of the other car joined me in the back of the squad.
The smell of liquor was suffocating. Really made me wish cop cars had window cranks or door handles in the back.
The trooper returned to his car and settled into the drivers seat.
" Take off your hat." slurred my seat mate.
"Excuse me, What did you say?" asked the officer politely.
'Uh,Take off your hat."
With a sideways look the trooper said firmly,"I always wear my hat."
Soon the drunk told the trooper how I was speeding at 50 or 60 miles an hour down the wrong side of the street and ran him off the road.
A hidden smile told me the cop wasn't buying that one.
He was stuck behind that bus for a couple of miles and knew very well that only pushing the bus over a cliff would get it up to 50 miles an hour.
In short order another squad showed up and the three goofs disappeared --
As a wrecker was hauling the Grand Prix out of the weeds the trooper jump started the bus--the battery was quite smashed..
That was the first day of a trip that was to take 16 days---plenty more friendly cops and a few mishaps.
(more if you want)---Mike--
O.K.---Soon as I eat something.
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