Monday, September 26, 2005

My Mom On The Bus

In an e-mail from my mom:

While reading your blog about buses, I was reminded of riding buses to downtown Rockford [Illinois], to Walker School, junior high and high school. In college I took the bus to work on the east side but had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to allow for two transfers and reach the factory when the morning whistle blew at seven o'clock. As a senior in high school, I rode the bus alone, home from a movie late at night . . . .

Rockford buses were shabby, dirty and stifling in the summer, but most buses had heaters that melted the snow on your boots, leaving puddles under the seats.

Someday public transportation will come back to Rockford and other towns and the buses will be cleaner and cool like the bus you rode in Greensboro.
It occurs to me that more people back then rode buses because, on the whole, Americans were just plain poorer in the 30's, 40's, and 50's.

Not that my mom was poor by 1949 standards: she was upper-middle class. But upper-middle class families often had only one car, so kids (and moms) often had to ride the bus while dad was at work. When I was a kid, we didn't get a second car until I was in elementary school.

I suppose this situation probably helped the corner stores that most neighborhoods had: they were viable because many people didn't have the option of driving to the MegaMart. Instead of cars, many of those moms had kids who they could send on errands to get milk, bread, and even cigarettes (if you had a note from your parents).

1 comment:

Kim said...

One of my favorite memories is taking a city bus with my grandmother to Woolworths and having lunch. We then rode to the Boston Store which was in downtown Utica. Nice store. It was a lot of fun.

In the little village I grew up in, parents also sent their kids on errands. We would buy milk bread, and yes, even cigarettes if we had a note! And this was in the 70's! That is really funny. I actually bought cigarettes for my parents a few times when I was 9 because I had a note from my parents. Also, the local theater would allow underage kids to see R rates movies if they had a note. Different times, they were.