Looking at the Freeze

Cold weather school buses
Slowly cruise the subdivision
Basking shark radiators
Swallowing snowflakes
When the cardboard cover
Finally freezes and falls off

The picture above is of the radiator cover (or winter front) on a school bus. Growing up in a rural school district we rode the bus for nearly an hour each way to and from school. Our bus driver, Sonny O’Dell, would tie a large piece of cardboard to the front of the bus in the winter. I always wondered why. I finally found out after graduating from college – the diesel engine would run more efficiently if it was warmer thus by blocking some of the air rushing in, the engine would run hotter. Sonny was always losing his cardboard. If it was the least bit wet (and we all know that snow is wet) the cardboard would become soggy and eventually the holes he had made to tie it to the front grill would enlarge and rip through. Most of the time the cardboard would just disappear – there when we got on and missing when we got off. Then there were the times when the wind would catch it and it would fly off and whiz past the windows the length of the bus. The grill on the bus was much wider spaced than the photo. It really did look like a basking shark!

Currently it is cold out. Freezing cold. And I noticed when the bus came through that there was a cover over the grill. I was a little disappointed that it was a fancy plastic affair instead of the makeshift cardboard cover of my childhood…

18 thoughts on “Looking at the Freeze

    1. Thanks for the compliment! The weather seems to change hourly! We had fog, freezing rain, snow, sleet, and saw the sun briefly shine… I would like to skip the next month!

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  1. My pickup is a 93. Every December Wrangler adds a piece of cardboard to mine but it is not visible from the outside. It’s the only way I have decent heat without going 30 miles.

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  2. Growing up I walked to school so have no memory of cardboard on buses. May have been there, I just didn’t notice. To busy making foot prints in the snow where the sidewalks weren’t shoveled.

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  3. Wonderful word pictures, Muri. The exposed shark swallowing snowflakes. We too rode the bus a long distance; we lived on the very edge of the district so we were the first kids on and the last ones off. I don’t remember cardboard, attached or in flight. Our bus drivers were mostly women with booming voices and upper arm flab that jiggled when they shifted gears. We all loved Huey, the man who subbed sometimes, because he drove so fast over the crests of the unused railroad tracks that we would fly out of our seats, sometimes even bump our heads on the ceiling. Great fun when you’re a kid. 🙂

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    1. Haha!! I only had Sonny as my bus driver except for the year we spent in Southfield, MI. There were a couple of women drivers. One of them always smelled like cigars and so did her bus (I rode the bus home to a friend’s house sometimes and I hated that smell)! Sonny never drove fast but he did slide off the road once in bad weather… that was exciting (and also cold and miserable). We had to exit the bus and walk down the road to the nearest house to call for help. Luckily it was on the way home.

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  4. Nice memories of those little things like cardboard on radiators! I enjoyed this very much dear daughter. And happy birthday today I can’t believe you’re getting old. You don’t look at. I think you take after me.

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