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When kids drove the school bus

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi


May 25, 2019

Jon Hammond

When I was growing up, I lived on a ranch between Onyx and Weldon, in the Kern River Valley.

There were no high schools in Tehachapi or Kern Valley, so the kids who lived there had to go down to Bakersfield and attend Bakersfield Union High School, now just known as BHS.

There were dormitories on the school grounds and the kids would come down on Monday morning, and then stay in the dorms all week and go home on Friday after school. That was quite a transition, for little 12 and 13-year-olds to leave home and be gone from their parents each week – there were a lot of homesick kids headed home each Friday afternoon!

We'd ride down on the old school bus, down the winding Kern Canyon road [Highway 178] and into Bakersfield each Monday morning, and the bus would be left parked on the school grounds during the week and we'd ride it home on Friday. For the school bus driver, each fall they'd pick one of the high school boys, a junior or a senior, and he'd be the bus driver for that school year.

Can you imagine that now? One of the students driving the bus with those all other kids on board, especially on the river road.... We never had any problems though, no crashes. If there was a fight on board, all the other kids would break it up because we were in charge of ourselves, there were no adults.

- Wini Hammond Hurst


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