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Mr. Cox and His Chewing Gum: A School Bus Tale

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.

Not that I want to be a smart aleck here, but right now I can save you a lot of valuable time. That’s really what life is all about today, right, saving time? Sure, it is. And to do my part of this serious social skill, I am going to start off with telling you the elements of this hub: joy, safety, happiness and sadness—four rock-solid emotions that help any hub fly.

 Vintage Ford school bus.

Vintage Ford school bus.

Truth be Told__________

this hub really has nothing to do with a school bus. But to stop confusion in its tracks, I put a school bus photo on this narrative—a vintage model (top) and modern edition at the bottom. Me personally? I didn’t like to ride any of the school buses that I had to board when I was going to school. Just as long as the loud mouth bullies just kept to their work of harassing the innocent students thus leaving me and my friends alone, that was really all that mattered to us.

This piece is really about the first school bus driver that I ever had: Mr. Linyon Cox and I guess here, but his first name is a mystery. Some pronounce it by saying LeNN-Yon or maybe LeeNYon. I tried to learn how to say his first name correctly due to the fact that people in (my day) 1961, people cared more about their name and identity than they do in 2018. We just identified our good-hearted school bus driver, Mr. Cox. Not Mr. Cocks or Mr. Coxx, but Cox—the same way that famed bass player and personal friend of the late Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox, spelled his last name.

Now Enjoy the Four Elements__________

that I said in the beginning would help to be the foundation of this hub: joy, safety, happiness and sadness. Fact: all of these four elements are important, but the truth is, I could replace one or even not use but three of the four and you would not know the difference. And again, I am trying hard to not be a smart alec.

The First Hub Element is Joy – and with Mr. Cox, his smiling face was the first thing that I seen on my very first day of first grade. Mr. Cox and his chewing gum. I never learned what brand he chewed, but my friend, he chewed the daylights out of his gum. Later in years, I was talking to God one day and it occurred to me that I should have been thankful (at that time with Mr. Cox) that he wasn’t a chewing tobacco addict. I mean, to see him chew tobacco with the vengeance he put to the chewing gum would have been worth selling tickets for. Mr. Cox’s gums were going 90 to nothing when he was in the zone with a bus full of students and if chewing a pack of gum per hour kept his driving skills sharp, thank God.

The Second Hub Element is Safety – and again, with the gum here. Along with Mr. Cox’s excellent driving skills and his gums going at it like there would be no chewing gum tomorrow, he also had an extra-sharp of observation as he drove us to and from New Home School. More than once I would sit near the the front of the bus just to watch “The Mr. Cox Chewing Gum Show” and now, he would keep both eyes shooting from left to right just to make sure that there were no wild animals or wild kids hiding somewhere in the bushes who might jump out causing us to meet with some accidents. But you put Mr. Cox’s chewing gum along with his laser-like eye movement, Mr. Cox had THE safest bus in the entire school district. (e.g. “K.I.T.T.” on Knight Rider’s hood had a red laser moving from left to right).

Third Hub Element Belongs to: Happiness – and I can attest to the fact that when I was on Mr. Cox’s bus, all was right with the world. Sometimes Mr. Cox did have to be a mild disciplinarian when a couple of those bullies (I told you about) in the beginning. All Mr. Cox had to do was say, “Haw, haw, now look-a here, boys!” And that was that. He never had to stop the bus to paddle their butts or even raise his voice. I wish, (among the wishes that never came true), that someone, even me, had submitted his name for election to the Nobel Peace Prize or even TIME’s Man of The Year Award. Either one fit Mr. Cox because his daily life was a life lesson of some sort.

My Last Hub Element had to be Sadness – and now I am wishing that I had not even published ‘sadness’ because sadness is a Buzz-Kill for any occasion. No one really prays to be sad. Well, to be honest, I am sure that there are some folks in our massive world who pray, “Dear God, thank you for every blessing and I have to say. I was a bit too happy yesterday, so God, would you, if you see your way clear, to let me be a little sad today. Amen.” I just hope no one really prays that prayer. But sadness did rear its scaly head a few years ago I was told. Mr. Cox was diagnosed with Dementia had to be admitted to an assisted living facility just so some professionals could take care of him.

Did Mr. Cox take his chewing gum along when he was admitted to the nursing facility? I do not know. But I was told that everyone who knew him when they visited him would remark on his wide and beaming smile like the one that he wore while he drove his school bus.

I also wonder if Mr. Cox (with that “beast” Dementia) knows right now if he is aware of that wide and beaming smile? To that I have to reply: Does it matter?

August 24, 2018_________________________________________________

Modern school bus.

Modern school bus.

© 2018 Kenneth Avery

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