By BILL DUNCAN
The View From Here
The high cost of fuel isn’t all bad. If what I read in the daily newspaper is correct, today’s school children will someday be able to tell their grandchildren they had to walk to school five miles to school in hip deep snow. The bold headline in my Sunday newspaper announced:
“More kids walking to school due to high fuel prices.”
That walking to school in the snow claim never worked well with my own children since they all knew I grew up in Florida. Besides until I moved my family to Oregon my older children only walked a block to the nearest school. My two youngest sons grew up on the farm in Roseburg far enough out in the country that the big Yellow School Bus with flashing red lights stopped right in front of my property and transported them to school.
I don’t see this deprivation of bus transportation to school happening to any of my rural young neighbors any time soon despite the high cost of fuel, but I am sure it will soon be happening within the city where neighborhood schools are within walking distance of most students. Out here in the country, it require establishing a designated site for the school children to gather thus cutting down on multiple stops for the bus en route to the school and that would require some walking for them.
However, I selfishly wish for the multiple stops to continue because I live on a two-lane roadway feeding into Roseburg. The morning commuters think of it as a freeway and even exceed freeway speeds rushing into the daily grind. Only during the school year does that early morning and late evening traffic slow down – all because the Big Yellows turn on their flashing lights to on-load, or off-load passengers.
In all my school years I never rode a school bus. My family home was within blocks of the elementary school and only a short walking distance to the high school. I remember taking a long route to the high school to avoid a confrontation with the school bully who lay in wait to express his authority over us 90-pound weaklings. Frankly I was frightened of this monster but one day he lay in wait for me on my devious route and pounced on me from behind a hedge.
I was just warding off his blows until a housewife ran out of her house and handed me a broom telling me to defend myself. She had seen this bully in action before. I used that broomstick to best advantage and beat him to surrender. Then I brazenly told him if he ever came near me again, he’d get the same whipping.
He never bothered me again. I discovered something about bullies that day. Bullies are all cowards.
I am not advocating violence for the sake of violence, but sometimes lessons come from Theodore Roosevelt’s wisdom to speak softly and carry a big stick. I would pray that no bullies are laying in wait for those children who may be walking to school because of the gas crunch.
However, according to the AP article about the new trend, it may have some beneficial side effects. Health advocates have long encouraged students to walk stressing its health benefits. Since obesity in the young is a national problem, this may offer a healthier graduating class. I just hope there are plenty of housewives along the way ready with broomsticks to ward off the bullies.
And enough crossing guards to get the hiking students safely across busy streets.
(Bill Duncan can be reach by writing to P.O. Bo 812, Roseburg, OR 97470)