Walking To School
Today, it is almost taboo to allow your children to walk to school, and that got me thinking about walking to school as a child. For Kindergarten and First grade, I rode a bus to school, but that school was over 10 miles away (as the crow flies) on the other side of town. In fact, we took the Interstate expressway to get there, so I don’t think walking would be a good idea. That school was closed in 1978 and has since been demolished, but I did get the opportunity to go there for a few hours while I was in high school for something.
Grades 2-6 were in a new location for me, as my family moved to a new house. This school was 8½ blocks away and me, Mike, Angie, and Brent along with a few others here and there, walked it every single day. I would meet Mike and Angie at the end of my block and we would pick up Brent another block down the road. We walked it in the rain, in the snow, it didn’t matter, we walked it. And to be 100% honest, if I had to do it all over again and I had the choice of a bus or maybe being dropped off my car, I would choose walking it. Some of my greatest (and one of my worst) childhood memories were from walking to and from school every day. In 5th and 6th grade I was on the safety patrol and I was a crossing guard on one of the roads close to the school. We were there to help the lower grades cross the roads safely.
One of my worst memories was the day that my best friend Brent got hit by a car, crossing a busy road in front of his house. There was an adult crossing guard (police as it was a really busy road) about a half mile away down the road, but they were usually gone by the time the safety patrol had finished. Brent was a runner and he ran across the road, taking a stupid chance and got hit by a little sports car, sending him flying through the air. It was devastating, and I ran to his house to get help. He survived and we are friends still today, but he had a long road to recovery back then.
Grades 7 was at another school (Junior High) that was 10 blocks away and we would walk that every day, picking up more friends along the way. We had to walk right past the elementary school to get there, so that was strange at times. But on the way home, we would stop at this local drug store and play video games for a while and often get some junk food. I remember playing Battle Zone and Defender all the time.
My family moved out of town midway through my 8th-grade year, so I was at a different much smaller school. That school was about 5½ miles from my new home, so I rode the bus most of the time. I did catch a ride a few times and even walked it once.
Grades 9-12 were at the high school that was joined to the junior high school. I again rode the bus most of the time. I did walk it several times when my sister neglected to pick me up or practice lasted longer than normal. When I walked the train tracks were the most direct route and would cut about 1½ miles off the walk. I rode my bike a few times and rode my moped a bunch of times. But walking wasn’t usually an issue, it was just how things were and you did what you had to do. I wasn’t alone, I knew others that walked it as well. If the parents were not available, and no one was around to drive, you just walked. We didn’t have cell phones so you called the one or two numbers you knew and that is it.
Once I got my driver’s license I drove every day unless my car was acting up and then I either caught a ride or rode the bus. I really hated riding the bus. For some reason, there was always someone in the back of the bus who was college-aged and making trouble all the time. They were still in high school, they just got held back a bunch, they were like 21 when I graduated and they were in 11th grade, lol. I’m sure his parents must have been proud.