Jeanne Eytcheson recalls the day her husband came home 44 years ago telling her about an opening for a bus route driving special education students from Caston schools to those in Logansport. With their son just entering kindergarten, it was convenient to take on the job because they would both end up having the same days off, she said.
“I just kept on going, never stopped,” she said.
She did the Caston-to-Logansport route for the special education students for a while and now drives solely for the Caston School Corporation, she said. She picks up about 50 to 65 students every weekday morning on her mostly rural route throughout Fulton County before dropping them off at the bus parking lot in the city of Fulton, where the kids walk to their respective schools. Then in the afternoon, it’s time to take them all home.
“The kids are a whole lot different than they were years ago,” Jeanne Eytcheson said. “Mostly their language problems and discipline. Bus drivers can’t do nothing about it, though. It all has to be handled in school.”
Two generations prior, Elmer Eytcheson spoke of a similar experience. Indianapolis Star Magazine reported he didn’t mind the kids making noise, “as long as the boys don’t fight.”
From elementary school to high school, Richard Gundrum rode the bus driven by Jeanne’s father-in-law, Donald Eytcheson, who was also the Gundrum’s neighbor.
Now 57, Gundrum recalled how small-town life meant it never took long for news of misbehavior on the school bus to reach one’s parents.
“You knew you were going to get in just as much trouble when you got home,” he said with a laugh.
They were different times, just as Elmer Eytcheson’s horse-drawn days were in the eyes of his descendants.
“That was just the great thing about growing up in a small-town community — your neighbor was the bus driver and they looked out for the kids,” Gundrum said.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or email@example.com. Follow him: @PharosMAK.