It’s almost the middle of August which means the kids are going back to school. The summer went by so fast. They should give parents the same amount of vacation time as the children get. I haven’t talked about education issues in awhile but I have some things I want to talk about now. We won’t get into all of that heavy stuff today since it’s the weekend. Earlier this week I was having a conversation with my co-workers about school and how it was a good thing now that the city has so many school buses to take kids to and from school. Back in my day most of the kids in Orleans Parish rode the RTA bus with bus tickets. I really can’t stress to you how important it was not to lose those bus tickets. Bus tickets were more important than money. That was a long walk home without them. My friend Fred used to lose his bus tickets for weeks at a time and always have to walk home. That must be why he stayed so skinny. One year they changed up the system and gave us stickers to put on our student ID cards. You could get on any bus in the evening by showing the sticker. We were all over New Orleans in places we shouldn’t have been. That only lasted one year. They got rid of that quick. I’m sure we cost the RTA millions in free joyrides and made at least ten drivers retire.
Thousands of school children of all ages would be on Canal Street in the afternoon just walking around. That was the meeting place for school aged children. Most of the city’s bus routes connected up there so we all could hang out thee and still get home. You could stay up there for a long time if your transfer didn’t expire. If it did then you were stuck and had to walk from Canal and that was a lot of neighborhoods to make it through to get to your house. That happened to me a few times since I was so careless with small stuff. The thing about being on Canal after school was that since there were so many people from all over the city up there you could run into anyone and see anything. If it was football season there was always a chance for a good school fight to happen. Some days you might get a cute girl’s phone number. Some days you might run into friends from elementary school that moved to other neighborhoods. On other days a group of guys from Fortier High School might try to steal your new tennis shoes (I shouldn't be picking on a school that had their building stolen after Katrina. I was a just a joke.) It was always fun, sometimes dangerous, and we did it everyday either way.
After the Canal experience was over everyone would go the bus line that took them home. My spot was the St. Claude Bus Stop on Canal and Rampart in front of the Popeye’s Chicken place where the old man used to sell newspapers and pecan candy in the front. The only goal then was not getting on one of those round shaped buses where the windows didn’t open. This was extra important if it was raining because a crowded bus full of sweaty people who have worked all day and rain water does not mix very well. You also didn’t want to get one of the bus drivers who had a bad attitude so he would pass up a bunch of stops just to make everybody walk a little longer.
Just thinking about those times in my teenage years reminds me of how you change with age. Back then I couldn’t wait to get up there in the evening to see what was going on. Now you can’t get me to go anywhere if I think there will be the slightest argument. I’m glad these kids today don’t have to deal with all that stuff after school. Besides, we got out at 3:15. Kids now get out anywhere between 4PM and 5 PM so they wouldn’t get home until dark. I guess we can chalk transportation up to the positive side of school reform.