The City Bus Line in Sylacauga served a real need in this area in days gone by. Last week we looked at a schedule printed in the Sylacauga Advance in 1946. I was glad to hear from Becky Blair whose grandfather, Lon Rudd, was one of those early drivers. Mr. Rudd also drove a cab in Sylacauga and for Crescent Stage Lines which later located near the City Bus Station. The wonderful pictures we are sharing with you this week are courtesy of Becky and her cousin, Brad Rudd, who lives in Coosa County. Mr. Lon Rudd was married to Recie McGrady Rudd. Their children were Helen Scott, Doris Conway, and Victor Rudd (all deceased). Grandchildren include Becky Blair and Brad Rudd as well as Debbie Reed, Mike Rudd, and Hanna Rudd. Thank you especially, Brad, for saving your history and letting us share it.
The bus was integral in taking people to town to attend school, to visit relatives, make doctors’ visits, and to shop or buy groceries. Not only were cars and tires scanty, but also gasoline was expensive and scarce. Sometimes just getting to town was not enough, and so cabs were an important part of the transportation link. You could call Sylacauga Taxi at 7.
Shirley Williams knows as much about the Gantt’s Quarry community as most anyone in Sylacauga. Her family lived in the Moretti Harrah area and in the Alabama Marble Company (Gantt’s Quarry) area because her Dad worked at both quarries. She remembers walking to the Gantts Quarry Post Office to catch the bus to town. Her parents bought groceries at the A&P and usually made a day of it on Saturday. She and her Mom would take in a movie if there were a good one, and her Dad would find a ballgame somewhere; and after the grocery shopping, they would catch the bus and take their groceries home. When Shirley started high school, she and her friend Peggy Benton (Culp) would ride the bus to Sylacauga High School and home in the afternoon. If a parade or special event were going on after school, they would stay and get a later bus home. Most riders disembarked at the Quarry Post Office and walked home. They paid with bus tokens, and the drivers wore hats and uniforms. The buses were like present-day school buses, but a little less fancy.
When I checked with Sylacauga’s first lady of real estate, June Atkinson, she remembered how good the driver on her route, Dewey Riggins, was to her. “He would see me coming, running late; but he never left me or anyone else. He was so patient with us all. He was a good man.” What a special thing to remember after all these years. Mrs. Atkinson thinks she continued to ride the City Bus Line to Howard Parker’s a little later in life when she worked there.
Nina Ward Lambert also remembered Mr. Riggins driving and what a good driver he was, as did Phyllis Crysel Cooper. Nina lived in the Five Points area, and her family had a car; but her Dad had to pick up riders who rode with him to work. Nina remembers riding the bus to school for quite some time and associated it with friends in the area who shared that experience.
Charlie Simmons’ Dad, Murray Simmons, actually drove the bus for more than ten years, so Charlie had some good memories to contribute, and some not so good. Like any boy, Charlie liked to ride with his Daddy as he drove the bus because the family did not own a car. He remembers two buses back in the day, that made the circular route at the quarries, Gantt’s and Moretti Harrah, and on to town, while one bus started in town and went to Oak Grove and around the loop. The buses stopped at the FNB Bank Corner, Woolworth’s Corner, etc. Charlie remembers a trip to Guntersville to see the boat races. A group of Sylacauga people who wanted to go reserved the bus and left on Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m. Charlie and his Dad stayed on the bus during the race, and Mr. Simmons stretched out on the back seat for a nap. Charlie, just a little fellow, curled up on a seat by the emergency door and went to sleep. When he had a bad dream and jerked, out of the open door on the gravel he fell. He remembers well that the doctor at the event patched him up and advised his Dad to take him to the doctor in Sylacauga if he were not much better by morning. He did not improve, so the next day they went to the doctor here resulting in a two week hospital stay with a concussion. Sometimes if things were slow in the bus business, Mr. Simmons would work for Mr. Clyde Arnold picking up bricks in Birmingham for Mr. Arnold’s hardware store, located on Norton Avenue.
I am so thankful to live in Sylacauga, Alabama, and share remembrances from people including Ray McDermiad, Becky Brooks, Charlie Simmons, Shirley Williams, Nina Lambert, Phyllis Crysel Cooper, Becky Blair, Brad Rudd, and June Atkinson. Thanks to Dr. Ted Spears, and Catherine and all the folks at B.B. Comer Library for helping with this research. I am reminded not to take for granted telephones, cars, good friends, and readers! We think we are terribly inconvenienced, but not so much when we remember these days when a single car was a real luxury, and not so long ago at that.
Until next time———