An Unusual School Bus

By Marion Blume and Iva Tipton

During the 1920's, the Mackay Public School District found it necessary to establish a school bus route into farm section south of town. One of the first men to accept the job of bus driver was J.P. "Jep" Jepson, whose farm was at the south end of the route in the Leslie area. He was supplied with a bus, a White, which accommodated 15 to 20 pupils. His route was toward Mackay with a side trip of several miles across the Big Lost River to the area of the old stage station of Houston. After delivering the children in the morning , Mr. Jepson worked in Mackay as a mechanic during the day, which worked out well for him.

"Jep" was a good disciplinarian and demanded order from all on board. A few tried his patience, so he would let them off to walk the rest of the way home again for a period of two or three days or until they were ready to conform to the rules. His own children were no exception to these rules.

The roads were still gravel roads but the White bus gave dependable transportation. When the snow came though, it was a different situation. There were no snow plows and the road was broken out by anyone who chanced to travel that day.

"Jep" was always equal to the winter situation. He parked the White, put bows on his large sled and covered them with a canvas like a covered wagon. When there was several inches of new snow, he used a four horse team; when the road became packed, he reverted to two horses.

One of his rides said, "We loved the winter." Mr. Jepson would come sailing along, and we listened for his bugle to call us and would meet him at the road. He had been a bugler in the Spanish American War and we couldn't ignore that old bugle call. Even with the cold and rough roads, those were happy times. We were bundled up in robes and with heated stones to keeps us warm. If we were a little late sometimes, it didn't seem to matter."

None was ever left behind that was supposed to go to school. If a child wasn't waiting at the appointed stop, a few blasts on the old Spanish- American Was bugle would let them know in no uncertain terms that it was time to go.


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