Pass those memories to the young
I was talking with a reader the other day and he made a request that I repeat some stories that I told almost seven years ago.
When I was still in junior high school, a church revival came to Ozark in Dale County where I lived. They conducted their services every night at the baseball stadium in town. By the way, in addition to being the place the Ozark High School team played, this stadium was home to the Ozark team that played for the Alabama-Florida Baseball league. This was a league that brought semi-professional baseball to our area and some of you may remember it. In fact, there are ex-players living here in Brewton.
Anyway, back to the revival. Things have changed in the years since this all took place. At that time prayers were still allowed in school and buses were still allowed to make their rounds to pick up anyone who wanted to go to town to the revival. (A personal note here. I wish it was as in the old days. I think a little prayer and revival might go a long way.)
My grandfather, Harley Hughes, was a school bus driver. He made his living doing this in addition to being a farmer. I never lived on my grandfather's bus route. My brother remembers him as being a very funny person, but he teased me too much for me to want to spend much time with him. About the only time we rode with granddaddy was the day we rode to his house to go in the woods to select our Christmas tree.
Anyway, we had a much more interesting person driving our bus. Mr. Lige Riley was our driver. He was old and half blind. Mr. Lige's wife, Lottie, worked in the school lunch room. This was at the small school out in the country called Skipperville. At that time we went through the ninth grade there and then were transferred to Ozark to attend Ozark High School which later became Carroll High School.
Mr. Lige Riley was a hoot. He drove the bus with the blinder pulled down in front of his face to where I am not sure he could see where he was going. He probably drove by habit as he had been driving for so long. Miss Lottie always sat in the seat right behind him and who knows, she may have been directing him in his driving.
The night of the revival, I got on the bus at my house and we were off to pick up the rest of the people who wanted to go. We had to turn around at Mr. Sam Watson's house and that is where Mr. Lige had his first accident. We took Mr. Sam's mailbox down and just contimued on our way. When we arrived in Ozark, we had to park on the campus grounds as everything was so crowded. Mr. Lige ran into a tree as he was parking and Miss Lottie jumped up out of her seat and yelled, "Lige, what are you doing?" I will never forget the look on his face as he turned to her and said, "Lottie, sit down". I am sure if we had not all been there, he would have said a whole lot more. By this time all of us kids were laughing so hard and so loud that Mr. Lige had to turn his attention to shutting us up. It was not an easy job.
Poor Mr. Lige. He would never have qualified to drive a bus today. There were many times that he would slide on a slick dirt road and end up in a ditch. In those days most of the roads out in our neck of the woods were still red clay and a rain would turn them into bogs. Mr. Lige would just empty out the bus and put the boys to work pushing the bus out of the ditch. The problem was that the boys were ususally pushing to get the bus stuck even faster.
Mr. Lige and Miss Lottie have been gone many years, but I will never forget that riding the bus with them was an adventure. I will bet you have similar stories to tell. Your children and grandchildren will listen and remember, so tell them. They need to be passed on. I could tell you others, and may do so. I could tell you, and may already have, about the time that I lived in the Dale County Jailhouse.