From Pipi’s Pasture: Riding the bus
Now that school has started, I notice the school bus as it passes by Pipi’s Pasture each morning and afternoon while I’m at the corral doing chores. The sight of the bus brings back memories of the days I rode a school bus to Craig to attend high school.
After I graduated from the eighth grade at Morapos School, I enrolled at Moffat County High School. “Graduation” is just what happened at the end of eighth grade. The eighth grade students from Moffat County’s country schools came together with the eighth-graders from Craig to participate in a graduation ceremony. There was also an orientation for all of the soon-to-be ninth-graders.
When school started, country kids had to get used to several classrooms with several teacher, lockers, class passing time and new classmates. Since I was a 4-H member, I was already acquainted with some of my classmates. If there was any trauma associated with starting high school, I don’t remember it. I was prepared for high school work, too.
The family ranch is around 23 miles from Craig. About nine of those miles are on gravel road, from the ranch to Highway 13. Dad drove me that far to “catch” the school bus every morning — no matter the weather — and then he or Mom picked me up in the afternoon. I know that dad didn’t appreciate having to take time from ranch chores to get me to school, but he did it anyway. The alternative would have been moving to Craig during the school year, and none of us wanted that.
When I was a sophomore or junior, sister Charlotte joined me in high school. So did some cousins from Deer Creek, a community of ranchers along a road that forks off from Morapos, and some neighborhood kids. Then parents took turns taking and picking up bus kids. In later years, the school district hired a driver and provided a bus to transport students to the highway.
In the days when I rode the bus to Craig, it was filled with high school kids, maybe some junior high kids, too. The bus went as far south as the Loyd Camp, an oil camp, where it picked up several students. There were Hamilton area students, too, and most of them met the bus at the Hamilton Store.
I remember the bus ride to Craig as fun. One of our favorite drivers was Mr. Roth, a teacher and, later on, principal. I recall the time that one of the kids smuggled a dead cat on the bus. Mr. Roth stopped the bus and made him take it off.
It was late afternoon when I got home from school. I changed my clothes and fixed a quick snack and then headed out into the pasture to bring in the milk cow. She was wise to milking time so usually had headed to the far end of the pasture. I remember walking across the trickle of water in the creek, through some chokecherry and serviceberry bushes that by now had colored leaves and following a little path up a hill. At the top of the hill I could see our house below; I thought it was a beautiful sight,
By the time school started, the county fair was over and I had sold my steer(s), but sometimes I kept one over for Stock Show. So part of my chores was to feed him grain, followed by hay. While I waited for him to eat, I did my homework — usually math — right there in the barn.
It’s all part of my high school memories.
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