Aboard 2163

19 comments on Aboard 2163
2 minutes

It’s Down the Road’s fifth blogiversary!
All month I’m reposting favorite stories from the blog’s early days.

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 7th-grade locker combination was 6-44-40, my student number in college was 14827. I even remember all 16 digits from my first credit card, which I got when I was 17.

When I was 12, 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.

Old Transpo 1971, 35x96, GMC New Look

Every day, it was the same driver. Every day, he drove the bus with the number 2163 painted on it. Every day, he picked up the same handful of riders going to work. We rode in silence as the other riders got off one by one at their stops. After the last worker exited, it was ten more minutes before we reached the school. The driver and I 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. One day a few years ago a fellow left a comment on a photo of two South Bend city buses that I had posted on Flickr. I checked out his photostream and found out he’s a bus fan – there’s a quiet but thriving group of them out there! He 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.

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

Photos by Richard Sullivan.

Originally posted 9/23/2008. Read the original here.


19 responses to “Aboard 2163”

  1. vanilla Avatar

    A great bit of nostalgia; and not just a similar bus, but your bus. That is great. Numbers fascinate me (I tend to factor them: 3x7x103), but you may be obsessed with them.

    1. Jim Avatar

      It is clinically a mild obsession. It runs in the family!

  2. Todd Pack Avatar

    What a neat story, and how cool that the bus driver stopped at his house and showed you the car he was working on. That kind of that wouldn’t happen today.

    1. Jim Avatar

      You’re right — too much worry about liability.

  3. Ted Kappes Avatar

    It is interesting to me how internet lets us make connections or find out about things that would have been almost impossible to do before.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Absolutely. It’s hard to imagine life without the Internet now, for just this reason.

  4. Tori Nelson Avatar

    So cool. I love to think of times when things weren’t so structured and formal. A nice bus driver could show you a car :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      Well, my parents weren’t too thrilled to hear that I’d gone into a stranger’s garage.

  5. Aaron Moman Avatar

    A question totally unrelated to this article: where was the picture up top taken? It strongly feels like SR 67 between Mooresville and Martinsville to me. Am I right? Also, I kinda miss the previous picture. Maybe you could provide custom themes for your audience? :-)

    A favor for your, um, detail-oriented (and lazy…) readers: could you provide the original post date and a link back to the original for this trip down memory lane? It’s interesting to see how you’ve decided to change/improve the article. And, at least for this article, the comments are also entertaining…

    1. Jim Avatar

      The masthead photo is US 40 in Putnam County. Here’s the larger photo from which I cropped it:

      US 40 in Putnam County, Indiana

      And here’s the original masthead photo, uncropped:

      Sure, I’ll go back and link these to the original posts. I’ll try to do that over the weekend.

      1. Aaron Moman Avatar

        Wait. I thought the last picture (when the blog was hosted on wordpress.com) included a rock outcropping (and maybe your car?). Did I hallucinate that? Was that further back than “the previous picture”? Is this real? Have I stepped into an alternative universe?

        I should have known it was 40. Still, it does evoke 67. At least I got the part of the state right.

        Finally, thanks for the dates and links! Much appreciated.

        1. Jim Avatar

          This shot?

          Hanging Rock Hill

          It was never in the masthead but I did write about this place once.


          1. Aaron Moman Avatar

            Hmm. Well, clearly that’s the outcropping shot with your car, but I know that was never the masthead. I must just be misremembering. Though I could swear that there was a shot with curvy road, autumn trees AND a rock outcropping. I am obviously old and feeble of mind.

            Or, more interestingly, I *have* slipped into an alternate universe and this is the first discrepancy that I’ve noticed.

  6. ryoko861 Avatar

    O-M-G!! What a coincidence! Did you copy the picture and print it out. I mean that’s got some sentimental value to you, doesn’t it? If you could get that bus in a little die cast wouldn’t that be a hoot?!

    What a cool story!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Didn’t print it, but was glad to find it. South Bend retired all those GM buses in the 90s sometime and I wondered where they went.

  7. zorgor Avatar

    Plenty of fodder for strong passwords with the number thing! :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      Ah, you read me like a book!

  8. vintagefilmhacker Avatar

    This was a wonderful read! Growing up in a mid-sized city, I didn’t get the same bus every day to and from school, but I managed to secure some very intact memories of a handful of coaches: a 1967 Fishbowl numbered 2264 was an early recollection, but a (then near new) 1975 Flxible bearing #3204 left the most vivid connection within me and the sense of loss when in my late teens I realized it was no longer on the roster. I actually hoped of one day running across the old bus in a setting similar to your 2163, but alas it never turned out to be.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Old buses have to go somewhere when they are used up, but such places are apparently shrouded in mystery. It was remarkable to find these photos of 2163 in that fellow’s Flickr stream!

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