Tuesday, September 29, 2009

School bus stops

The last blog entry reminded me of my own misspent childhood and the ways that I would while away the time waiting for the school bus.

After the seventh grade my parents move to Arnold, Maryland. Because of the rapid growth in the area I had to go to a split-shift school for the eighth grade. The school split the day into two parts, a morning and an afternoon shift. I felt very fortunate to be able to go to the morning shift because it left the entire afternoon open for fun and games. The downside was that I had to catch the school bus at 5:30 in the morning. 5:30 in the morning in Maryland meant darkness and cold.

My friends and I, though, were very enterprising and would collect wood scraps from the then under-construction houses and build a small fire for warmth and, of course, for the fun of building a small fire. Sometimes it would be difficult to get the fire started so we would take some of the flammable floor glue to use as a starter.

One particularly cold and snowy day we collected our wood scraps and glue and started our fire. Just as we were starting to warm up the person who lived in the house nearest the school bus stop, someone we'll call Mr. Jones, came storming out of the house in his pajamas, robe and bedroom slippers yelling and screaming at us. "What do you think you're doing? Are you nuts? You're going to burn down the neighborhood. Put out that fire."

Before we could say or do anything he ran over and started to stomp on the fire in an attempt to put it out. Just then the school bus pulled up. We got on the bus.

As we pulled away I watched out the window at a site I will never forget. Apparently the glue starter stuck to Mr. Jones's slippers and there was Mr. Jones running around his front yard in the snow attempting to extinguish his flaming slippers.

The next week our school bus stop was moved a block away. You see, Mr. Jones had pull with the school system - he was the principal of the school. I never met Mr. Jones. I feel bad that his slippers caught on fire and I firmly recommend against using fire for warmth on a neighborhood street. But I can't help but smile every time I think of him running around his front yard with his robe flapping in the breeze and his slippers afire.

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