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Sunday, December 08, 2002

Forced Busing

I said below that the safe and cuddly 1950s was not real. But at least part of it once was, and that was the part about sending your children on unaccompanied bus trips. When I was young---maybe about 7, but I could have been as old as 10---my parents sent my little sister and me to visit our grandparents, about five or six hours away by bus. This was in the late '60s. My sister is two years younger than I, so I was in charge. I can't imagine anyone doing that today. I remember nothing about it except getting off the bus at one point because my sister wanted something to eat.

We took the bus two or three times, but the practice came to a screeching halt the day my parents suddenly decided we should go, but they couldn't get hold of either set of grandparents. Figuring that grandparents either had no lives, or would never dare live them without notifying my parents, Mom and Dad deduced they were just out shopping or something, and sent us on ahead. Now, I was on the low side of 11, but even I knew that was a bad idea, and said so. I was told to shut up and leave the thinking to them. After all, it was five or six hours. Surely they'd be able to contact somebody by then (we had a bunch of relatives in the area).

My maternal grandparents had skipped town, but my step-father's parents had just been out in the garden or something. They were glad to see us, but Grandma especially was Seriously Displeased with my parents, and said so to us in the car. I was very glad to be vindicated. When my parents came to get us, two weeks later, I wanted to hang around and watch Grandma hit Dad with a switch. But I was hustled out of the room. It was evident that she ripped him a new one, though, grown man or no.