Friday Flashback #214

Yellow school buses seem to have been around forever. Wherever we grew up, nearly every Westporter rode in one.

Yellow buses are still ubiquitous — though these days, they’re mostly empty. More parents than ever drive their kids to school — the ones who are not still home distance learning, that is.

For many years, 2 families ran Westport’s school buses: the Cuseos and Masiellos.

Here’s a photo — courtesy of John Cuseo — of an early local bus:

What do you remember about your school bus (or driver)? Click “Comments” below, to share.

35 responses to “Friday Flashback #214

  1. In the ‘50’s when we all rode buses, mothers volunteered to ride with the children. In first grade it was my mother’s turn which meant I could ride on the front seat with her. What a privilege.

  2. Gee Dad was your School Bus really black and gray ?
    No son the cameras back then were color blind.

    But seriously the school bus back then, same as cars back then had no seat belts. We are decades later with seat lap belts, shoulder belts, air bags and so many more safety devices built into our cars and yet no such thing is mandated for school busses. Even in ones that travel on highways like I-95 no seatbelts. We do have in bus cameras that produce troubling news clips and YouTube videos of bus accidents, but……

    I don’t get it…

  3. One thing I remember is the smell of diesel exhaust. School bus fleets are starting to pivot to electric, but there’s a big price delta.

  4. I remember the first time I rode a school
    bus home , probably 1st grade, I got on the wrong bus. I was the last kid on the bus and the bus driver just kind of stared at me until I started to cry. I told him I didn’t recognize any of the stops. I can’t remember how I finally got home but that memory will haunt me forever.

  5. walked to school but remember Ray the Good Humor man!

  6. I absolutely remember Ray. He’d park his truck near the golf range pro shop and always stop in for a quick chat. As far as school buses are concerned, I remember ole #1 with Bill Lockwood with his chewing tobacco. I think #1 was a 1939 bus.

  7. Michael Calise

    Back Then there were many independent school bus drivers. One was Don Brown with a single bus. Another was Bill Lockwood who lived next to Greens Farms School and parked his buses there.

    • Michael: you could go broke fast betting against your memories of old Westport but I think you meant Ralph Brown who lived at Cottage Lane. Don Brown was his son—probably a classmate of yours. Ralph was a brother of Al Brown Capt Westport PD

  8. William Briggs

    When we went to Green’s Farms Elementary in the 50’s Mr. Lockwood owned and operated the yellow bus we rode in. His house was right next to the school and that’s where he parked his buses. They were OLD buses. Gas powered, not diesel. I remember that bus struggling in Low low gear trying to make it up the big hill on Roseville Road. Mr. Lockwood was a one-man show. A quiet guy but nice to all of us kids.

  9. Bruce Fernie checks in from Italy, with this photo of himself and Kari Felske. They were headed to first grade at Burr Farms School, in December 1957. Their bust stop was on Long Lots Road, at Sprucewood Lane. Those were the days!

  10. J. (John? Jack?) Wandres

    Weston, 1950s (?): Elmer Zimmerli and the Little Green Bus. This was way before school bus design and safety became standard. Mr. Zimmerli was the driver. We kids would wait out front of our house . . .and wait . . .until the LGB showed up, because Mr. Zimmerli, too, would have to wait at some other kid’s house who was late to catch the bus. Up Lyons Plains Road, then left onto Steep Hill Road (and I don’t remember the rest of the LGB run). In winter on slushy roads there were times when we were never sure if the bus would make it up the hill . . . and so we would get out and help push the bus up past an icy era.

  11. Amazingly I was not part of a school bus route until I reached 10th grade at Staples. I always walked to and from school when I lived in Queens; and then when I moved to Westport in 4th grade I frequently walked home from Coleytown El and Jr High, and vaguely recall getting driven to school in the morning on a number of occasions—and definitely in bad weather.

    I got my driver’s license in March of junior year at Staples. So overall I spent less than two school years taking the bus, which was probably an anomaly back then.

    On the other hand, I did have a decent number of bus trips for school soccer games from 8th grade through 12th, with the longest probably being to Wethersfield High School for an early Saturday morning preseason jamboree senior year. In general, I remember it being noisy with a lot of chatter on those soccer bus trips. I suspect the trip to Wethersfield was much quieter than normal.

    And, if I remember correctly, Joe Cuseo was frequently our driver and he was a big fan of our team. But maybe Dan would or Jeff Lea know this for sure.

    • Joe Cuseo was the Staples soccer bus driver. He wore a cowboy hat, and occasionally rolled out a red carpet for players to walk on. Coach Albie Loeffler cringed. He could control a lot, but he could not control Joe.

      • My instant reaction to the first sentence, Dan, was how Mr. Loeffler seemed simply to tolerate Joe. I guess he only had so much energy to maintain is otherwise stoic exterior.

  12. Christopher Jones

    In the days of yore we had no school bus, just the regular CR&L bus that serviced the route from the Hillspoint, Compo Beach areas to downtown Westport.
    We cued up at the end of Apple Tree Trail, handed Paul the bus driver our bus ticket, and sat with other children and adults, untethered, unsecured, and unmonitored.
    No stop signs or flashing lights on the busses. Somehow we all made it safely to Saugatuck School without one hovering mother in sight.

  13. I was in 2nd grade in 1955-56 where we were at Greens Farms Congregational Church, due to Greens Farms School being beyond capacity, We had 2 busses. I took bus 9, a short squat bus with a single red light in the center. Mr. Lockwood owned it and it went on a long route up Roseville Rd,, Cross Highway, Bayberry Lane. Long Lots,.Maple Avenue, Old Road. The other bus was bus 7, which was a modern bus with red lights on either side (no amber lights or stop signs back then) –I don’t recall if it was owned by the Lockwoods or Cuseos. It always arrived after our bus, and we always booed it as it came in. My sister Karen was in Kindergarten at Greens Farms school, and took a somewhat older bus (by Cuseo standards) that would go up Long Lots up to High Point Rd. and Hyde Lane, and execute a turn before discharging its passengers.

    When Burr Farms School opened, we were not given bus service to the upper reaches off High Point Rd. based on the logic that if we had bus service, the bus stop would be too close to the school to allow for bus service. Parental pressure eventually resulted in us having our own bus.

    We did have to walk to Long Lots but certain commuters were known to offer us rides as they passed by, and one person who would only offer us rides if his neighbors would be outside noticing. We moved from Westport before high school, which was ashamed as Staples abutted our back yard.

  14. Michael, There was a Don Brown who lived on Cottage Lane. I’m not sure if you’re talking about him. He worked at the golf range around 1955, and eventually joined the FBI. Are we talking about the same Don Brown?

    • Michael Calise

      The Don Brown I mentioned was his Father. I graduated from Staples with his son Don whom you are speaking of. He joined the Marines with us and we went through Paris Island together. I have a fond memory of the day we were discharged. from Paris Island. We were all in a line at attention. The DI who spent every day of boot camp punching me around because I was the “New York Italian” and he was going to “break me” was looking down the line and he walked up to Don and said Private what’s your name as if it it was the first day he had ever seen him. I nearly fell over!!. that was Don sailing through twelve weeks of boot camp without a hitch! As you pointed out he went on to join the FBI. Sadly he is no longer with us.

      • Mary Schmerker

        Oh my yes, we are talking about the same Mr. Brown and his son Don. What fantastic memories. I am not sure that Mr. Brown ever drove my route to school but oh do I remember him driving out to Girl Scout Camp Aspetuck in the summer. We would sing at the top of our lungs and he would always smile. Greet us as we got on the bus and then when almost to our destination we would break out into the song: Here’s to Mr. Bus Driver, Bus Driver, best of the all. He’s merry and Jolly, we love him by gulley, ……..
        I am pretty sure that it was his son Don who occasionally brought a rabbit sandwich To Bedford Jr. High for lunch. I also remember that from Bedford Jr. High and Staples (1950’s) we rode a city bus to school. It would drop us off on Riverside in front of the Catholic Church. Often going home we would opt to walk down the Post Road to Colgans Drug Store ( Now Tiffany’s for new comers) and just maybe a boy might buy a coke for a girl friend before getting the bus….Those were the days my friend. We thought that they would never end…sadly we have hit times right now that are memorable and some of those memories will not be such pleasant ones.

  15. Kathleen Fassman

    My bus driver was my own two feet. Everyone in my town walked to school. We even went home for lunch. On our own two feet and back again. Maybe that’s why childhood obesity was less of a problem. There was a ‘warning’ bell that sounded 10 minutes before the late bell. If you were late you went to the principal’s office.

    Times have changed.

  16. Wait what?! You had buses?! My father – Mr Christopher Jones – has told me and anyone else in the car a million times as we passed the old school on the way to the train station that he walked there from Apple tree tr. What’s next? Air conditioning?

    • Mary Schmerker

      Did he also mention walking in ten foot snow drifts to school? Just joking. That was always a line my dad used to give us. He had to walk from Crooked mile to Staples in all kinds of weather or so he claimed.
      He was Staples 193? . I’ll have to double check for the date but it would have been in the mid 1930’s. So we of course perpetuated the ‘tale” to our kids when they complained.

    • I grew up in Newtown where all the buses were independently owned. My father owned/drove bus # 4. I never rode on his bus-most of the time I walked. I remember every year before school started he would bring the bus to our house and we kids (there were a lot of us) would clean it inside and out. We were allowed to keep any money we found in the seats. I think a big haul was a buck fifty!

  17. Anyone remember riding the bus from Burr Farms and the bus driver would sing out “ Who wears short shorts?” And all the kids would sing and answer, “ We wear short shorts.?” It was a popular song and my uncle Stan was the bus driver doing the singing. Anyone remember that and that particular song? It was 1957 or 1958 when that song was popular.

  18. Joyce Hergenhan

    I grew up in Armonk, NY, during the 1940s and 1950s. All the school buses were red.

  19. Britt Elizabeth Anderson

    We called him “Leadfoot.” I think his real name was Gary. Long Lots – Hillspoint/Roosevelt route. Nice man, young and played great music.

  20. Clark Thiemann

    I was later than many here, but my high school bus driver was the great former police chief Ron Malone who drove our bus for a few years after retiring in the mid-1990s. Everyone was always on their best behavior and we used to joke he had the traffic lights scheduled for us so we never hit a red in the morning.

  21. You Westporters were pampered. I grew up on Long Island and we didn’t have school buses. I had to walk three miles to and from school — uphill both ways!

  22. Well, I never went to school on a bus. My parents took me to school up to the 4th grade and I rode my bicycle there after that. I was not on a school bus until my mid-40’s, accompanying a group of Westport kids on a trip to the Cloisters in New York City. That was fun.

  23. I definitely remember at least one Cuseo – could it have been John?- driving the Saugatuck School run from the mid 1950s. Stop was at the mailboxes at Menard Drive/Saugatuck Shores. And the long-suffering Mr. Farcas from Bedford JHS days.

  24. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    Interesting memories, here! 🙂

    In the early 1960’s, many a Weston school teacher used help out the schools to drive a school bus.(Mr. Meehan,Mr Zacavish,others..there was a (scary)bus driver,a George Vogel,who drove like a maniac on Weston’s roads; he was mean, teasing all of us kids, ”driving past our bus stops’..(in those long-ago,1960’s days , he’d call all the girls on the bus::’Girlee’.)
    (I’m amazed I still remember all this, another life-time ago ! 🙂

    (My older brother,Jeff, still remembers the bad January,1961, blizzard in Weston,esp. Rte 57 (aka ‘Gifford’s Hill’) ‘when the school busses and many cars were all stranded up the steep hill there, to Weston schools.’)
    (I’m sure that still happens, there..)

  25. I know this is a bit off the topic, but talking about Cottage Lane, there was the Rutski family with two kids, Ed and Star Holda, Ben Kulis, who drove a CR&L bus, Chappa ( I can’t think of his first name) and a couple other families I can’t remember I’m talking late 1950s or so.

  26. Lucinda Mirk Setnicka

    Some on this feed HAS to remember the school bus driver, Ray Space (Greens Farms Elementary). We riders did not believe his last name was “Space,” so one time he stopped the bus, pulled out his driver’s license, and “proved” it to us! I also remember, on my birthday, in kindergarten, my bus ran into a tree on Beachside Avenue. We were delayed for hours and I was so worried the “walkers” were going to eat all the cupcakes my Mom was delivering to celebrate the day!