We also talked about the U.S. Nationals, which are always held Labor Day weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway. We were excited that we knew several of the competitors.
Many years ago some of my buddies helped me build and compete in a dragster that over the season gained enough points to be invited to the famous Nationals.
We all were busy during that Labor Day weekend. There was practice, qualifying and then the eliminations. We had a blast but didn’t win anything. As I look back on that weekend, it still amazes me that after three days of drag racing I climbed into a school bus on a Tuesday and drove students to their first day of school. Talk about a change in driving styles.
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The Edgewood Grade School reunion was Saturday evening at The Atrium. I have a double connection with the school as I attended Edgewood/Riley and was a bus driver for the school for about seven years.
I reconnected with Kathleen Hash, who rode my bus. We have been friends for several years, and she helped organize the evening. Ted Lobdell and Barry Hix were the main coordinators, and they all did a fantastic job.
I felt honored to sit with former Edgewood teachers Bill Pickard, Vern Chandler – they taught me – Phil Paswater and Nancy Paswater.
I remember my first day of driving a school bus. I had just turned 21 and was unsettled. I knew my routes well, but I was unsettled because I had only driven them without students.
I recall pulling to the first stop on my high school/junior high route. My first passenger was Marcia Gunnion, who greeted me with a dazzling smile. At that moment I knew I was going to be OK. I reconnected with Marcia several years later and was sad to learn of her death a couple of years after that. She was a real sweetheart.
My other route was the Edgewood School one. At about my third stop, Denise and David Morris boarded, and they also greeted with big smiles.
I had those routes for several years and always felt that those three students really helped me that first morning. I ran into David a time or two several years later but had lost track of him and his sister over the years.
As I was visiting with several people at the reunion, a gentleman walked up to me and held out his hand. I didn’t recognize him so I snuck a peek at his name tag, which said David Morris. Boy was I surprised.
David told me that he recently retired and is now a school bus driver. Plans are being made for him, his sister and myself to have lunch in the near future.
I saw so many friends and former classmates that if I tried to write about all of my conversations, this article could fill six pages, but that wouldn’t get past the editor.
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.