Aboard 2163

If I hadn’t remembered the number painted on this bus, it would have been just any other old South Bend city bus. But because I remembered this bus’s number, coming across this photo brought back a memory.

Old Transpo 1971, 35x96, GMC New Look, 1

I usually remember numbers because I hear a rhythm in them. It’s kind of annoying, actually. My dad’s 1976 license plate number was 71D7140, my first girlfriend’s phone number was 234-6448, my first middle-school locker combination was 6-44-40, my first credit card (account closed for more than 20 years, so don’t get any ideas) was 4302-3801-0157-6430. So it’s typical of me that I remembered bus number 2163 from 29 years ago.

I was 12 and I sang in the school choir. Practice began at 7 am, long before school buses came through my neighborhood. My parents did not believe in shuttling their children to activities. “If you want it bad enough,” Dad said, “you will find a way to get there.” So I set aside enough money from my allowance to ride the city bus to school on choir mornings. I walked to a bus stop in the dark at 6:30 a.m. three mornings a week.

Every day, it was the same driver. Almost every day he drove the bus with the number 2163 painted over the door. Every day, he picked up the same handful of riders, all going to various jobs. Nobody spoke, at least until the last of the other riders got off at the mall. Then the driver and I were alone for the last ten minutes before we reached the school, and we took to chatting those minutes away. It turned out that he was as much an old-car buff as I was. He told me he was hot-rodding an old Model A, and it was in parts all over his garage. I found the whole thing fascinating. So one morning when he was running ahead of schedule, he stopped his bus in front of his house, which just happened to be on the route. He lifted his garage door and gave me a quick look-see at his Model A. It was pretty cool.

The next year, my brother and one of his friends joined choir, too, and the friend’s dad drove us.

Yesterday, somebody commented on a photo in my Flickr space that shows a South Bend bus that looks like a trolley. I clicked to see that fellow’s photos. He’s a bus fan (there’s a quiet but thriving group of them out there!) and had this photo of an old South Bend bus in its final resting place, a northern Indiana junkyard. And there, over the driver’s window, is its number: 2163.


11 responses to “Aboard 2163”

  1. Leo Avatar

    You wrote…”I usually remember numbers because I hear a rhythm in them. It’s kind of annoying, actually.”

    Sounds like a Rainman issue. :-)

  2. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    Great story Jim, that is an amazing thing to see the image of the bus on Flickr !!

  3. Jennifer Mikesell Avatar

    You are a terrific writer Jim… and know what? Although I do not remember the numbers? I do recall when the buses looked like that…. time went by so quickly didnt it?

  4. Jim Avatar

    Muchos gracias, y’all!

  5. Richard Sullivan Avatar

    Hello, I guess I should be mad about someone using the picture that I took, but this is a neat story & I believe I corresponded with you on flickr? No big deal! You feel this way about GMC 2163, my best Transpo memories are of the 1991 Flxible Metros they used to have! So have a nice day! Also, the above bus is a 1971 GMC New Look, Transpo had 32 of them at one time, replaced mostly in 1987 by the Flxible Metros, the last GMC was retired around 1999.

  6. Richard Sullivan Avatar

    Hello, please don’t be mad, I think it is cool, I guess I should have looked that the photo is a link to my photo, sorry if I made you mad! I wish I could remember those old GMCs, unfortunately they were around when I was little.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Richard, no worries. Your pic had a “Blog This” button on it so I clicked it, which created the basic post, and then I filled in the text! Yes we did correspond about this pic on Flickr and that’s what prompted me to write the blog post. I’m sorry you were surprised to find your photo used. I should have asked permission first!

      1. Richard Sullivan Avatar

        No problem, I am honored that you used my photo! I am sorry. I know someone that lives near the junkyard, they told me the bus is gone. Not sure, since I don’t have a way to get over to see for myself. I wish I could get over there, I now have a better digital camera, I’d like to take some more pics of it! When I took a pic of the sign it was on 1 Madison-Mishawaka, I tried moving the sign to see the other route names, but the sign wouldn’t move anymore! If yoy go here, you can see more older Transpo photos:

        1. Jim Avatar

          I enjoyed the other Transpo photos. I rode Transpo all the time in the early 80s, before I grew up and moved away. The original white/brown/gold color scheme is still the best.

  7. Richard Sullivan Avatar
    Richard Sullivan

    Hello, again. I thought I should let you know, that I think 2163 must have been scrapped since it is no longer at the junk yard, that is what someone told me, I can’t confirm this, though. Thought you should know that, since the bus meant something to you, like the Flxibles meant to me!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Oh, that’s too bad. But thanks for letting me know.

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