At that time school buses didn’t have any extra storage areas for large instruments or other equipment. One bus was to be used just to transport all of that extra stuff. My driver’s license at that time only allowed me to operate a bus if it had no passengers, so I was to drive the one with the equipment.
On the day of the parade I was placed at the rear of the buses, and we headed to the parade. Once we got to the starting point we unloaded the equipment, parked the buses and waited for the band to finish.
Once the parade was over, it got crowded and crazy in the bus parking area. We helped the band members get their instruments and all the equipment put in the proper cases and boxes. The bus I was driving was loaded with all the large stuff, and all the band members and adults got on their buses.
Back then school buses did not have radio communication with the schools or one another. When we were on our routes we were on our own. So when we got a wave from an official that it was time to leave, we all starting pulling away.
I was still in the last school bus in our line. We were pulling away slowly when I heard someone pounding on the back emergency door. I stopped and opened the front door and waited to see what was going on.
I looked in the right side mirror and saw someone walking toward the open door. Southport High School band director Bill Schmalfeldt stepped up onto the bus. He had been talking to someone when he glanced up to see all the buses pulling away. Because none of the buses had radios, the drivers thought Mr. Schmalfeldt was on a different bus.
As I remember, he wasn’t happy. I was also in a quandary. My job was to transport large instruments and equipment, not humans, but I couldn’t contact any of the other drivers to allow Mr. Schmalfeldt to transfer to a different bus.
I will always remember him as the first rider that I ever transported on a bus. We returned to Southport High with no problems. I don’t remember if he was ever told that my bus was only supposed to transport large instruments and equipment or that I was only licensed to operate a bus with no passengers.
That changed when I started driving my first route in September of that year.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.