Friday, August 21, 2009


Aug 22 - Aug 29 we are staying at Southwick Beach State Park, north of Sandy Pond. That'll be fun. Campsites 47 and 48 - stop by...say hello...
I hope to be showing the 30th Anniversary Edition of The Rat Pack Movie Uncut (Blu-ray disc) someplace during this time frame. Maybe at Brewsters, maybe at Eddie's Cove...maybe at somebody's home...not sure yet.

I don't know if I'll be updating this BLOG during that time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bus #34

I remember waiting for the school bus during the long cold, grey, winters at Sandy Pond – how could anyone forget freezing like a popsicle? Most of the time there was at least a breeze coming in off the Pond and when it was more than a breeze the wind chill factor would plummet exponentially deep into the minus numbers of Fahrenheit. There have been many times in my life that I have experienced being “cold to the bone” so to speak – and the majority of those times were either waiting for that stupid school bus or ice-fishing with my Dad.

The bus did not pick us kids up in front of our home. We had to catch the bus down on the lower road, which meant walking down Ontario Avenue and over in front of Meyer’s camp (which used to be the “Jappyland” skating rink / dance-hall / hang-out) under a big oak tree. Fortunately that tree offered some protection during bad weather. The bus we rode was (I’ll never forget) #34, a 60 passenger ’61 GMC custom made by Superior Bus Co, driven by Mr. Fahnestock. Mr. Jim Fahnestock had more than one job at SCCS. He also taught MATH and coached basketball. He was a short, fearless man with a crew cut and a macho attitude. Everybody liked him, but you did not want him mad at you.

I remember Mr. Fahnestock using the school bus full of kids as a tow truck, yanking cars out of the snow banks and ditches when these situatiuons presented themselves. Amazing.

Every Friday Mr. Fahnestock would reverse the bus route so the kids who normally get off last got off first to start their weekend. Those kids were always elated on Fridays, and there was always an air of excitement.

Several things happened on the bus that are remarkable and worth mentioning here. In order to keep a close reign on Mike Richter, who was a mischievous boy in his mid-teens, Mr. Fahnestock appointed him to be the official door opener and Mike took it seriously - doing a good job at it. Unfortunately Mike had the worst beer farts west of Route 3. He was under-age but that did not stop him from indulging himself and from time to time he would let her rip and we would all suffer, windows flying open and sleeves over noses... Mr. Fahnestock thought it was funny…

One morning we arrived at school and before he opened the door to let everybody out Mr. F said only the girls could get off – he needed to talk to the boys. After they were all off Mr. F said that he heard a boy saying the "F word" and wanted him to ‘fess up' and we would ALL be staying on the bus until the perpetrator confessed. There was a long pause and we all looked at one another, shrugging our shoulders. Then a hand went up and Mr. F told the rest of us to leave. As I got off the bus I glanced at the bad boy and was surprised that it was my brother Kip! I not surprised he was using bad language because that was certainly nothing new…I was surprised that he confessed… that had never happened before. Mr. Fahnestock could intimidate somebody twice his size…

One time the bus accidentally ran over a dog. That was sad. We had just picked up the Mc Williams Kids and we all felt a little bump as the bus started off. Mr. F slammed on the brakes and sent Mike back to see what it was. Mike came back shaking his head and muttered something to Mr. F. He bounded out the door and knocked on the McWilliams' porch door to tell them the bad news. They wrapped the dead dog in a blanket and took it out back. The Mc Williams kids got off the bus and stayed home…

Another time while making a turn onto another road off the Ouderkirk Road, the bus slid off the road on some ice into a deep snowbank and we were stuck. Mr. F radioed for another bus to come get us. While waiting, he tried rocking it back and forth – gunning the old engine and grinding the gears…that was a ride as good as at any theme park - but he could not get it back on the road. We were all laughing and the girls screaming etc.

When I was a senior I started driving my van to school and got away from riding the bus. I missed it a little but driving to school was cooler. Once in a while I’d take the bus when I had no money for gas or the van was broke down.

Lots of good memories on that bus. Every Spring would bring squirt-gun battles and every winter the snowballs would fly (while Mr. F wasn’t looking). But if he caught you he would yell and glare at you in his giant 2 foot rear-view mirror, and deal with you harshly once we got to school. The popular punishment was to sweep and mop the bus…it was a very clean bus indeed!

I never thought I'd fondly remember the stupid bus...