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.
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.
Photos by Richard Sullivan.
Originally posted 9/23/2008. Read the original here.
Last updated on 16 February 2020 by Jim Grey