Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Night School Memories: Bus Tickets and Canal Street

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.


Miz Bliss said...


We had bus tokens in DC. Student ones. I remember getting on the bus with one once and being told by the driver that I couldn't use it because school had already ended. I was HOT because school had NOT ended for me. I refused to get off and he refused to move the bus. Someone on the bus got mad and paid my fare.

There are NO school buses in DC for regular students going to public schools unless you are special ed...

Public transportation is it unless you're lucky enough to get a ride.

Beauty Jackson said...

We acted a FOOL when they introduced those ID stickers. If a friend lost their ID, that's when you do the window toss. You get on the bus, wait, and the friend tosses the ID out the window. Those tickets were the business. I was 21 years old still using my sister's bus tickets when I was broke. She had a mad case of pretty girl syndrome, so she was getting a lot of rides after school.

The evening bus ride was the comedy show. We'd been pent up all day, so on the ride home, we would get it IN. I had no problem talking to strangers, so between the bus ride on the S. Claiborne and the Paris Road, we accumulated a lot of padnahs. Good times man.

It drives me NUTS that there is no bus service of any sort in DC. You can't do ANYTHING to show these kids that you give a damn about how they get to school, or if they even go at all? That's very telling.

K. said...

I lived in a little town on the Gulf Coast without a sewer system. We dreaded rain because the next morning mosquitos were everywhere; the wait for the school bus meant a constant flailing and slapping by every kid at the stop!

bayoucreole said...

Would you believe, my brother still has that RTA ID. He posted it on his facebook page. Kids were everywhere with that thing.

E.J. said...

Man, you brought back some memories. Yes indeed. After school I used to transfer to my bus to the Westbank on Canal St., and I remember that place was crawling with teens and school uniforms! I also remember how the bus drivers would pass up the girls from Seton and the Warren Easton kids when they were looking a bit too rowdy that day. lol

We used to get tickets to cross the bridge in the morning without paying the toll. My momma commuted with me to her job every day for 4 years! LOL

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember those bus tickets. I would put them in the letter holder and give you and your brother and sisters each day you attended school, to and from home. I also remember when you were at Clark High School and lost your bus ticket to get home. We lived across the bridge in the lower ninth ward on St.Claude. That was a long, long walk home. But you made it. Thank god the weather was good. You drank all the water you could find. After that day, you rode the bus with a ticket everyday. HA! HA! HA! By the way, is that your long lost bus ticket you have posted on this blog? It finally showed up,HUH. A little late, don't you think?

With all the love in the world,