The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on November 15, 1981 · Page 54
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 54

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 15, 1981
Page 54
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Page 10 The Sallna Journal Sunflower Sunday, November IS, 1981 Sunday, November 15,1961 The Salina Journal Sunflower Page 11. Kansas Profiles Betty and one of the regular riders on her bus Cleaning the bus Is a daily chore for driver Betty Hanchett Sixteen years as a Salina School bus driver hasn't cooled Betty Hanchett's 'HANKERING' FOR DRIVING B, >etty Hanchett says she's always "had a hankering for driving." Hie "hankering" may run in the family. Her mother drove wreckers for Camp Phillips when it was in operation. Betty has been a school bus driver for 16 years in Salina. And her husband, Cliff, has been a long-distance trucker for the past 2Vfe years. When she started driving in 1965, she was the only woman bus driver for Salina Transit, the company that supplies transportation for Salina UD305 students. "There have been a lot of changes since then," Betty says. "When we first started driving there were no defensive driving classes. Now, I have to have a physical every two years and pass a defensive driving course every three years." The youngest of her six children was born about a year after she began driving the bus. "He bad to ride that bits for the first five years of his life," she says. "Nov. he'd rather walk." Among her first assignments was the Schilling bus route'. The air base was closed, but the Waiting Wives — women whose husbands were serving in Vietnam and other areas out of the country — and their children were flooding into the housing area. Betty has some fond memories of those first trips. "I think I had fewer problems when I started out. I was hauling the Schilling kids, and I felt they were more disciplined than a lot of the kids today." There was one incident that she remembers, however. "Some of the kids egged the bus on the last day of school. I knew who had done it, so I went over to the base commander and he called the kids in. They had to wash the bus down." Her current route is northeast of town. It's the smallest of the routes, but she picks up more children than some of the larger ones — 45 students a day. "I don't have too much trouble with the kids," she says. "The kids that you normally pick up, they know the rules and regulations and that helps a lot. "I think all kids are basically good kids. The mornings are fine, but in the afternoons, when they've been cooped up and have all that energy to spend ... "I really have no problem talking to a child when his peers aren't around, but when he's surrounded by his peers, watch out. I can see it in my own kids as well as bus kids." If Betty has a minor discipline problem on the bus, she usually makes the disruptive child sit in the front seats for a while. "It seems the ornery ones usually sit in the back," she says with a chuckle. M. Betty starts her rounds about 7:30 a.m. Lajor discipline problems call for sterner measures, however. The first time there's a big problem with the child, Betty tells the principal, who talks with the student and his parents. The second time, the student is off the bus for a week and the third time, the student can't ride the bus the rest of the year. But none of the problems she has with children make her as angry as those she has with adult motorists. "My real pet peeve is still the motorists who go around you when you're stopped and have your lights on. It would be so easy for a child to be hit — a school paper blows out of bis hand and across the road and he daihes out after it. And it's really up to the adults in the community to set a good example for the children." Weather can be a problem for bus drivers. "As long as the schools are open, we try to make our routes, although sometimes we're late." Betty's bus slipped into a ditch once on Stimmel Road when she had to move over to give an approaching car some room in bad weather. "Nobody was hurt and the bus wasn't damaged." And, during one recent big rain when some of Salina's streets were underwater, the engine on Betty's bus flooded out while she was on her way to Roosevelt- Lincoln Junior High with the youngsters. "I called in on my radio, they got a mechanic out right away and we were on our way in minutes." She's had only one accident in her years of driving. "I was backing and I wasn't watching carefully enough because something was going on in the bus, and I hit a car." Again, no one was hurt. JL he bus occupants can be distracting. "Kids bring some unusual things aboard — spiders and snakes and such, and they'll bring them out and somebody screams. "And sometimes we'll get a wasp or hornet on board in the spring or fall. What I do depends on what the kids do. Sometimes one of the kids can shoo it out a window. Sometimes I'll pull over until we can get it out. You can't let it unnerve you." There are things which make it all worthwhile, Betty says. "Some little kid will get on the bus and give me a handful of dandelions. "The young ones are the most fun — they're expecting everything wonderful. Their eyes are big and they're full of excitement. "And for three years I hauled handicapped people out to the OCCK (Occupational Center of Central Kansas). Most, but not all, of them were mentally handicapped. Their outlook on life makes me feel ashamed when IV unhappy. Most of them are happy all the time. "Really, kindergarteners and handicapped people are my favorite riders." Betty has loved her years of driving the bus, but she's looking forward to retiring as a school bus driver in a few years when her youngest son is out of high school. She'll still be driving, though. Betty plans to join her husband on his long-distance hauls. "I was able to go with him on three runs this past year. The first time I went out with bun, I thought I'd hate being cooped up in the truck. But I didn't feel at all cooped up. "I love to drive and see the country, and I love to be with him. He's been on the road 216 nights this year. That's a lot of time away from him." Until the day comes when she Joins Cliff, however, she'll continue to enjoy driving her school bus. > "One time our boss told us that we haul the most precious cargo on earth. I believe that. It really makes you want to do better." Photos by Jeff Britegam Story by Barbara Phillips

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