Another School Bus Story

Since my latest book, A Logger’s Daughter: Growing Up in Washington’s Woods, came out in October, something delightful has happened.

Long-ago friends, as well as new friends, call or write to share their memories. Some had parents in the logging industry, like I did. Many remember picnicking or hiking in the Robe Valley. Others share memories of a well-used galvanized washtub, or an adventure on the school bus, or the day electricity came to their homes.

In my next few blogs, I’d like to share some stories that didn’t make it into the book, because I didn’t know about them. Here’s one from Marcella Bond, our unofficial Big Sister back in the 1940s, who had a school bus story of her own:

“I went to the country school at Robe for my first year. Then the school closed and we rode the bus to Granite Falls. In 1935, the hilly county road was not yet paved. All the men teachers had been drafted to fight in WWII. So one of the high school boys who lived in the valley drove our bus.

big log on truckHeavily loaded logging trucks used the road, too. Everyone gave them the right of way on the twisting, mostly one lane dirt road. Brakes weren’t the best then, and you didn’t dispute the right of way with a careening log truck.”

One afternoon, the valley-bound school bus, with Marcella and four or five other children aboard, headed uphill, around a sharp curve. A logging truck appeared just ahead. The young driver pulled the bus as far to the right as he could. He breathed a sigh of relief as the truck squeezed by.

Suddenly the children heard glass shatter at the back of the bus. The bus jerked and began skidding backward. The projecting stub of a huge branch had punched through the side window at the corner of the bus, hooked it like a fish, and now the unnerved passengers were flying down the road behind the log truck.

The screams of the children alerted the unwitting truck driver who stopped, backed up, and released them to make their shaky way home.

All of the valley residents and log truck drivers, too, were grateful when the road was straightened, widened, and paved in in the mid-1940s.

(Photo courtesy of Granite Falls Historical Museum)

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