Astute readers will have undoubtedly taken note of the fact that school buses make regular appearances in this blog. I like to photograph school buses. If I am out and about, be it on foot, bike, or car, and I see a school bus, it is almost a guaranteed fact that I will shoot a frame or two of it.
"But wait!" the astute reader prostests. "Why are you telling us this? There is no school bus in this picture! Just a streetlight and some forlorn, bare trees, waiting for the month of May so that they can sprout leaves again. Without a school bus in the picture, this whole conversation is absolute nonsense!"
Astute reader! Please calm down! Look... it's not my fault there was no school bus here. If there had been, I would surely have photographed it, but there wasn't. I couldn't. So don't get all upset with me!
Ha! Proves my point! Having once again just got up once it was too late to see daylight, at 4:00 PM I went out for my afternoon coffee break and I bought a bagel with cream cheese to go with it. And just a little further along I came to another street light and there, beneath it, was a boxy, clunky, yellow and black school bus and - as you can surely see - I did indeed take a photo of it. In fact, I took a couple of photos of it.
Now you see my entire photographic output of the day - a streetlamp with no school bus beneath it, and another with a school bus, seen in two views.
So I wonder why I like to photograph school buses so much?
Sure - their big, clunky, boxy, yellow and black design would appeal to any serious photographer, but I think maybe there is more to it. I think perhaps it has to do with the fact that as a child and youth, I led a school-bus deprived life.
It's true. I did. I recall when I was three and four, and we lived at place called Pend Air Heights, right by the Pendleton, Oregon, airport, just up the hill beyond the town.
On school days, I would see the big, yellow and black buses come up the hill and stop right by our house. My three older brothers would get on. I wanted to, too, but nobody would let me.
It was just awful. Sometimes, I felt so bad I cried out in desperation and pain.
"Don't worry, Billy," my mother would soothe. "It won't be long until you are old enough to go to school and then you will get to ride the school bus, too!"
Indeed, while five seemed like forever away, very soon I did turn five. I got to enroll in kindergarten!
And then what happened?
My dad moved us to a house right in Pendleton, two blocks away from Lincoln elementary. No school bus was going to pick me up to take me two blocks. I had to walk.
Nor could I eat cafeteria food, like my cool friends who rode the bus did. I had to walk back to my house for a home cooked meal.
My teacher was mean, too!
I felt damn deprived and picked on all around.
Then, just before my ninth birthday and the fourth grade, Dad told us we were moving to Missoula, Montana. I did not wish to go - except when I would think about school buses. In Missoula, maybe I could ride the school bus.
We moved into a house less than one block away from Willard Elementary, where, just about every day, RD Brandt catch me and pound me - until one day I pounded him. Then he didn't bully me any more.
Just before I turned 13, Dad told us we were going to move to Eureka, California. I did not want to leave Montana - I had become quite fond of the place - but, on the other hand, maybe in Eureka I would get to ride a school bus.
We moved into house just over two blocks from the junior high school. An easy walk.
I discovered, though, that it was not all bad. I did not much care for school, but I did like to write and whenever I would write a story, essay, book report or whatever, my English teacher and all the students would insist that I read it to the entire class.
I did. And then, to my amazement, because I was very shy when it came to the opposite sex, there would be girls who would want to walk home with me. They liked my stories. They wanted to talk about my stories. They treated me like I was Faulkner or something. So we would walk together. It was nice. I liked it.
There were a few times I got to ride the bus, because I was on the football team and there were a couple of schools we played that took hours to reach. Those bus trips were great. We players would gamble with nickles and dimes and we would swear, and somehow I, who lived in a Mormon home where cards were forbidden as a tool of the devil and so I knew little about poker or any other card games, would always come out ahead.
I won more than I lost. We would sing, "100 bottles of beer on the wall!"
Me, a Mormon boy, singing 100 bottles of beer on the wall.
Next, we moved to Sacramento, Calfornia and, yes, once again, it was into a house within easy walking distance from school. No bus for me.
So that explains it, I guess. That's why so many school buses wind up pictured in this blog.