The Bynum Kids originally had 2 choices for high school. One choice was Anniston High where you rode the government buses. The other was Oxford high where you rode county bus no. 79.
I chose to go to Oxford because most of my friends went there. Little did I know at the time that good "Old No. 79" would be embossed on my memory for the rest of my life.
The first driver I remember was Gary Coogler. He was a really good guy that was a senior when I was in the 7th grade. He parked it behind the grocery store after unloading. Bobby Gamble used to experiment on making a deicing solution so Gary would not have to scrape the windshield in the winter. It never worked.
The next driver I remember was Percy Brooks. Percy was a friend to almost everyone in Bynum. Percy parked the bus near the main gate after unloading. He had some problems with someone siphoning gas out of the bus. There was a rumor that some of the Anniston High boys did it so we would run out of gas the next morning. Maybe, just maybe. There was quite a rivalry between Anniston and Oxford.
Then, my friend, Raymond (Woody) Woodberry drove the bus for 2 years. He would park it next to Carr's Trading Post after unloading all the kids. If you went over there early in the morning, you could be sure to get your desired seat. But, early birds had to sit in the cold for a while in the winter. The bus wouldn't warm up until it was full.
About the time that Woody started driving, a new school, Welborn., was opened. We had so many high school students at Bynum, that some started going to Welborn. A few abandoned good old number 79 to ride the Welborn bus.
Also at about this time, another friend of mine, Brice Harris (no nickname) started driving a second bus to Oxford. He made what we called the "Booger Holler" run. Booger Holler was a very remote part of Calhoun County where kids who lived on farms rode the bus. Part of the run was on dirt roads.
But, good old number 79 was the first and primary county school bus from Bynum. I think it was such an icon because some of our own drove it. Getting on that bus just felt like another part of our community or even a part of home. You knew at the end of the day, old number 79 would bring you back to Bynum.
There were no heaters in the winter or air conditioners in the summer on old number 79. Just a bunch of happy go lucky Bynum kids. Some did their homework on the bus, some gossiped and some would do sing-along. I still remember "You can't get to heaven on the Bynum bus because the Lord doesn't allow his children to cuss." That was just one song that was Bynum centric. Usually if a song sprang up, the whole bus would wind up singing it.
And oh yes, there was Doodle Bug's "Firebug Club" on the bus. I won't go into details on that one.
One time, old number 79 broke down and we used a substitute bus. It just wasn't the same even though the substitute bus was a newer model. We were relieved when good old number 79 was given back to us.
The bus was always crowded. If a guy was lucky, he could get a pretty girl to sit on his lap. The girls knew the guys would let them sit there and some of them waited until the bus was filled up on purpose. They could choose what ever guy they wanted to tease. If the guy was not nice, the girls just moved some where else. I was always smaller than everyone and the girls who sat in my lap squashed me!
Doodle Bug and his club members used to make signs on notebook paper and hold them in the back windows for cars behind us. The signs were never dirty just funny. Some would be as simple as "Honk if you can read this". The bus driver would yell "what's going on back there?" and someone would say "nothing". Of course, the driver knew better but, it just went on anyway.
Henry Nordholm played the tuba in the band. So, his horn case was huge. It was always the last thing on the bus and the first thing off because it wouldn't go down the isle. No problem, everyone knew Henry couldn't help how big it was. There was always someone to help him get it on and off. That's just the way we were.
Good old number 79. I would like to think it is still running in an alternate universe hauling a bunch of laughing and singing kids to school. I wonder what songs they are singing and what do the signs in the back window say.