Mack Williams: Brief school bus sounds

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2019

Mack Williams

Even though my car’s oil leak is fixed, I still walk to the local Food Lion for the exercise. On my ambulatory way, I can still identify the recently laid-down oil trails on the street which I know to be mine. Scientists talk about “carbon dating,” but I have been privy to “carbon sighting” of my previous dripping route.

If Hansel and Gretel had been of driving age, and had been operating an automobile as previously “oil sieveous” as mine, they could have saved that bread for the ducks!

While walking the other afternoon, a school bus passed me, and I heard from it just a mere snippet of sound which brought back my youth. It resembled a brief laugh track like those used on TV shows back in the 50s and 60s, except that it was real. It came from a school bus passing me so fast that the usual pitch-sliding of the Doppler effect didn’t have time to take effect, as if the sound, itself were “caught off guard” from the physics of motion involved!

The sound was of children talking and laughing, bringing back memories of my old school bus back on the Old Concord Road. There was rarely any fighting then, just noise. I do remember a couple of times when the driver had to stop the bus to plead with us to lower our decibel level so he could keep his mind on the road (back then, it took a bus load of kids to produce the level of distraction provided by just one cell phone screen today).

The sound from within a school bus full of children sounds like just noise, but that noise is made up of multiple “binaries” (meaning two people talking, not Luke Skywalker’s expressing the need for “A droid which understands the binary language of moisture vaporators”).
Just like bundles of electronic conversations being carried in land-line cables, the school bus’ “fuselage” was like the outer cable wrapping of conversations being carried to and from Granite Quarry School.

That ride gave us insight into the “habitats” of those sitting close by on the bus, and in the classroom; so if one of us said to the other, “I know where you’re coming from,” we knew it physically and literally (kind of like the soil and the container in which the plant flourishes).
When I boarded the bus from W.A. Cline’s driveway, those already on board saw, in a natural-history way of speaking, my “habitat,” my “niche” within my heavily-tree-shaded boyhood home.

The next bus boarders had a tremendous hedge in their side yard; almost resembling those in Normandy, for which the U.S. Army fitted some Sherman tanks with plows for post-D-Day “plowing.”
Just before the left turn onto the Heilig Road lived a little girl on the right who wore horn-rimmed glasses. They made her seem older; perhaps because my mother, Lorraine Williams wore such frames.

One child boarded the bus after traversing decorative pampas grass, more common nowadays, being sold at Lowe’s.
Some children boarded with mothers at watch from yards, motherhood’s “radius” extended beyond the front door (actually, a radius unaffected by space, time, or death).

Similarly, some boarded with pre shool-age siblings on hand to bid them a “diurnal” goodbye.
Children were sometimes seen off and greeted by their dogs, which managed to keep a safe distance from the bus (more knowledgeable of its threshold than some two-legged creatures motoring past its swung-out sign).

Some of these children have since passed on, with no further need of conveyance or route.

Many people pay money to ride a Hollywood bus to see where screen and television stars live. On our little school bus route back then, we saw the homes of, and grew up with much more formative “stars,” their performances still remembered; some even continuing to be acted out upon ‘the boards’ within memory’s eye and ear.

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