LIFESTYLE

Long-time bus driver turns in her keys

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Linda Maynard posed with some of her youngest riders as her 35 year career as a school bus driver neared an end.

A two-generation era has come to an end.

Linda Maynard retired Dec. 20 as bus driver for the Greencastle-Antrim School District. She had been behind the wheel for 35 1/2 years. Before that, her father, Raymond Myers, drove for eight years in the 1960s. Her mother, Betty Myers Bitner, started her 26 year legacy about that time, too. She was the first female driver for the district.

Maynard gave creedence to advice from her elders.

“I became a bus driver because my mom thought I should,” she said.

Bitner and fellow bus driver Clarence Stotler taught her how to drive, and Glenn Musselman took her to Chambersburg for the driving test, which she passed.

Maynard, 66, became a substitute in 1977, and went fulltime in 1978. Her first route was in the northwest section of Antrim Township, but over 27 years was devoted to the Coseytown area. On the road for five hours a day with the high school and elementary runs, she took on extra duty with an early morning band and choir route, and also drove mid-day when kindergarten was still half days. She also transported athletic teams to events.

“I was on the road all day,” she recalled.

Still, the schedule fit Maynard’s lifestyle, including summers off. Her sons Troy and Brian were in school.

“When they were off, I was off.”

Driving a multi-ton orange vehicle with 130 youngsters over the course of the day could be intimidating to some, but Maynard took it in stride. The work was her calling.

“I just love kids,” she said. “They always made me feel good. By the end of the summer I’d think ‘Yes, I’m ready to go again.’”

She had only two mishaps during her tenure. Once another vehicle rear-ended her bus. The other accident was scarier. She drove up the Worleytown Road hill after school, and made sure the students were ready to hop off as soon as she stopped. She was alone as the bus slid down the hill near the sewer plant.

“It was snowing in buckets. I slid onto a barn bridge. God put me there.”

From then on, whenever it was snowing, Maynard drove the route backwards.

Since the 1970s, of course, Maynard has seen changes in her passengers.

“Parents don’t teach the same values as in the past,” she noted. “The language is terrible, even in kindergartners. But you keep your cool, regardless.”

Some of her charges have returned as adults to apologize for their behavior. She is proud of the successes they earned in life.

Maynard will miss her co-workers, the actual driving, and the kids, but is ready for retirement.

“It is just time.”

She and her husband Jerry will have more time to “pick up and go”. She will also be able to delve into her scrapbooking and genealogy research without interruption. Plus enjoy her two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

On the last day of school in 2013, Maynard gave each of her riders a letter explaining why she would not be in the front seat in the new year, and a packaged treat. She didn’t want to give them time to fuss over her departure.