Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thank God and Greyhound

A bus from the 1950's - click to enlarge
Photo: www.wkikpedia.org
  The song written by Larry Kingston and Ed Nix and made "famous" by Roy Clark sort of says things for me.  My first Greyhound trip was in 1959 from Jacksonville, Florida to Arkansas City, Kansas.
  My first experience with Greyhound in Jacksonville was before the trip.  Sort of new to town and a student at the Naval Technical Training Center, Aviation Storekeeper School I was in town one weekend day and wanted a cup of coffee.  I walked in to the bus station restaurant only to be told that I was "on the wrong side", the "white folks are on the other side".  Surprise, surprise, surprise.  Here's a kid from Maine, with 3 years in Ohio behind me and I had no idea things were 'seperate', they were.
  My first trip came after finishing that school and I was finally on my way to my first duty station, Naval Air Station, Alameda, California, with a stop in Kansas - there was a girl there, and in a couple of million other places too; but I knew this one.
  I don't know what time I left Jacksonville, afternoon I think, and it was a long ride.  Up through Alabama to Montgomery, over to Jackson, Mississippi and up to Memphis.  All along the way I looked out at, or went in to bus stations of all sorts.  In the bigger cities they would be actual bus stations but in small towns maybe part of a store or gas station.  But one thing stood out.  The "black station/waiting area" were nothing but separate.  In the small towns little more than a 3-sided lean to, or shed.  No heat or cooling, no shade or cover from bad weather.  I most remember Tupelo, Mississippi, home town of Elvis and home to the tiniest little shed with no door "black waiting area".
  We crossed the Mississippi outside of Memphis and rolled on through Arkansas to Fort Smith, and crossed into Oklahoma and headed into Tulsa before finally landing in Kansas.
  Funny Arkansas in Kansas is pronounced as Are-kansas or R-kansas (both the town and the river) but in Arkansas (the state) it's pronounced R-kansaw.  It's one of life's puzzles.
  But Thank God and Greyhound I was on my way to my first duty station, and my first Navy job.
Those were the days.  Yes suh!  the geezer says so. - click to enlarge

No comments:

Post a Comment