More Than Transportation

By Reba Phelps

One recent Friday while driving down I-49 enjoying Flashback Friday music on the radio, I heard the Salt-n-Pepper song, “Push-It.” Feeling nostalgic about the tune I turned it up as loud as the radio would go with factory installed speakers in an economy size company vehicle.

Every time I hear this song it brings me back to 9th grade year. I still wrestle with the same guilty feeling every single time I hear this song. In the grand scheme of things this song, by comparison to today’s music, is definitely rated PG. This song brings back a memory that is ingrained in the fabric of my childhood.

Obviously, it wasn’t because the lyrics have any type of sentimental value. It is the pure fact that our School Bus Driver, Judy Adkins, absolutely refused to let us hear this song. She wouldn’t merely just change the channel. She would turn it off so quickly we would still be singing along for a few seconds before we realized someone had put a halt to our entertainment.

Our morals were closely guarded on her watch and she took her job seriously.

If you had the pleasure of riding her bus then you knew that in the mornings we listened to Country Music and in the afternoons we listened to Pop Music. Sometimes, there was a compromise and we swapped the morning routine with the afternoon routine. The one thing that was never compromised was her letting us hear that vulgar song. The kids that rode her bus were more than just mere riders. We were family. She treated us like her own kids and kept our shenanigans to a minimum.

Her love for us was evident the one day that she dropped a student off and waited for the child to cross the road. As the child exited the bus and began to cross the road a vehicle came speeding over the rolling hill behind us and proceeded to pass us ignoring the “stop arms” that protruded from the side of the bus.

Mrs. Judy screamed the child’s name and blew her horn simultaneously to keep her from stepping out in front of the illegally traveling vehicle. The child stopped just in time. Once she knew she was safe she proceeded up the road where she found that the driver had stopped to apologize.

She accepted his apology but not before she really let him know how she felt about him endangering one of her children. The profanity that left her mouth earned her some street credit that day and we couldn’t help but chuckle once all was well. We all felt sufficiently protected in her care.

I will always feel like she saved the child’s life that day and all the while teaching us a valuable lesson of the pitfalls of being an inattentive driver.

As a teenager I boarded her bus so many times and was always greeted by her welcoming beautiful smile and big blue eyes. As riders, we knew if we saw those big blue eyes peering at the reflection in her rear view mirror someone was about to feel the wrath of Judy. Our respect for her ran deep. More often than not my siblings and I were the last ones to get off of her bus so we always had extra time to visit. She loved dropping us off and then stopping at her family’s house just down the road from our stop. Mrs. Judy was never short of good advice and stories to share about her family. She was ever so proud of her children.

Mrs. Judy passed away suddenly at the early age of 40. As I sit here writing this story at 43 it almost seems surreal that she was so young and didn’t get to meet her first grandchild who was born just two months after her passing. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that she dreamed of being a Veterinarian and had a passion for animals. She had this passion before it was the trendy thing to do. She chose the path of motherhood instead and never regretted a moment of it. She also chose the path to drive a school bus to mentor and love every child that stepped on her bus. She was more than a means of transportation to the children in her care, she was family.

My tenure on Mrs. Judy’s bus was contained to four years but the legacy of love, patience and kindness she left behind will last a lifetime. This same love and kindness is also evident in the two children she left behind as they raise their own children. I am not sure that she ever knew how much she was loved by her students but there is not a single time I do not think of her and the impact she had on me and my siblings when I visit Goldonna.

Proverbs 6:20-21

“My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

17 thoughts on “More Than Transportation

  1. Reba you have a rare talent for the expression of deep emotions. Judy was a beautiful person inside and out. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of her sweet soul.

  2. One of the most beautiful stories I have read about the impact the love of an adult who truly loves children can have on those children. That adult can be anyone, but they realize that there is more to love than just having fun with having fun with children. There is love, but also discipline, protection, teaching right from wrong, and so much more. Judy sounds like the kind of person who could teach the ones who teach kids, you have to love them, but teach respect to them. She had the respect of the children on her bus, and she taught them many things, sometimes without even talking to them. Oh, that we had more school employees like Judy today. I love children, and I taught children many years. Children need discipline, guidance and boundaries, and many times, they don’t get these at home, so it is left to others who love children to do what they can to teach these children.

    Thank you for this story. Judy was a great woman.

  3. A wonderf story! It’s anazing, the impact that one teacher … one adult … can have on our lives. For me, that teacher was Vic Profis, my ninth grade English teacher, may he rest in eternal peace. At a VERY awkward and lonely time in my life, he recognized my uniqueness, which I know with every fiber of my being gave me the courage to become the woman I am today. I am 58, but I will never ever forget him.

  4. As I stand at my kitchen sink with the hot water running, warming bottles for my current motherless puppies. I’m fostering for the Heart of Louisiana Humane Society, as my daughter, Judy’s great niece that so loved so much is the president of. The tears are falling! Oh of how this has brought me down memory lane of one very special school bus driver, mother, wife, daughter, sister and dearly miss aunt. Thanks Reba for this beautiful article!

  5. This brought tears to my eyes this morning. Such a lovely memorial to someone special who took her job as a calling . Thank you for sharing!

  6. Beautiful legacy! We never know the full impact that one life and even one act of valor can have on others. This can inspire us to always be mindful that our lives are not just about ourselves.

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