Back in the day: Edmonds School District bus safety in the 1930s

By Betty Lou Gaeng | Dec 07, 2018
Courtesy of: Edmonds Historical Museum

Reading a recent article about school bus inspections failing, I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit about how things have changed since I was a little 6-year-old girl in 1933, all ready for my first day of school.

As I have written before, our country was deep in the Great Depression, and we were living on an isolated 10-acre chicken farm north of the little community of Alderwood Manor.

We were just trying to survive in hard times.

Alderwood Manor Grade School on the North Trunk West Road was our destination on that first day of school in September 1933 – 196th Street SW and 36th Avenue West in today’s Lynnwood.

My two older brothers and I had to walk about a mile to catch our bus on the east side of Highway 99, near Lake Serene – where the retirement home Chateau Pacific is today. We had often walked to Lake Serene that summer, so we had no problems with finding our way.

For the few of us waiting for our transportation that morning, we found it was to be in the back of Leo Echelbarger’s hay truck. We had benches to sit on, and Mr. Echelbarger had swept the bed of the truck clean of any hay.

We were not worried.

I am sure no one even inspected school bus transportation back then. Actually, Edmonds School District very soon managed to reroute a regular school bus for us.

When President Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, the public schools seemed to be one of his first priorities. Looking back on those times, I am sure that President Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor had a lot to do with that.

Among the many school improvements for Alderwood Manor Grade School were new school buses, a playfield, and a library with new books – complete with a real librarian. In 1934, when I started second grade, we had brand new school buses and one even picked us up right in front of our house.

For me, it couldn’t get any better than that.

Betty Lou Gaeng is a local historian and member of the Edmonds Cemetery board.



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