We talked about driving buses when you had no radio contact with schools or transportation centers. We were basically on our own.
I remember driving my high school and junior high route one morning during a bad snowstorm. When we arrived at school I was notified that it had been canceled because of the weather. I then had to return those students to their homes.
When driving home from breakfast I thought about how interesting and difficult it might be to explain all the new communication technology to my father.
After we sold our buses to the township, dad started working as the maintenance director of the township’s fleet of buses. At some point two-way radios were installed in all the buses.
My next job took me to Southern California, where I was part of the training team for a school bus contractor that had more than 700 buses. I was issued a large 103-passenger bus, which was equipped with a two-way radio. I still remember my call letters/numbers: WBI79-104. We used call numbers like 10-4, 10-8 and 10-20 and seldom said real words.
As I was thinking about how I would explain today’s electronic gadgets to my dad, I thought about the cellphone that my wife, Lyn, uses. I got a new one too, but it isn’t as up-to-date as hers. I figured it might take an hour to explain texting to dad. I don’t text much, usually only a few words as I have to punch the No. 7 key four times to get the letters to appear in a message. Lyn’s phone has a keyboard.
I have watched her send and receive messages from the same person for more than 30 minutes. On occasion I have inquired as to why she didn’t just call the person. She responds that she enjoys texting.
Now that we have these phones I have noticed that she has changed her way of texting. She can now tell her phone what to text. I will hear her talking and think that she is talking to me. But no, she is texting someone.
I’m beginning to understand texting better. When I hear something like, “Can we meet for lunch tomorrow, question mark”? I understand she is telling her phone to write a message. She must tell the phone what punctuation to use after a sentence.
I can’t imagine trying to explain to my dad about having the ability to talk to your telephone and tell it what to type to a friend. Then the friend answers and that message requires you to compose another message. This can go on for quite a while.
I can only imagine what my dad would say. I’m sure it would be something like, “Why in the h--- don’t you just call them?” It would be difficult to explain to him, but I’m sure it was a chore when he had to teach me about our home phone when I was young. Party lines were interesting and sometimes hard to explain.
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.