Archive for Thursday, June 1, 2006

Massey moves on after more than three decades

June 1, 2006

As was fitting on the day of her last ride, Jane Massey wore yellow.

"Of course, we love yellow," Massey said.

For 38 years, Massey drove the same stretches of road twice a day, transporting USD 491 students back and forth from home and school.

During that time, Massey has seen the district and her passengers grow. She began to mark her time not so much in years, but in generations.

"With a lot of the kids, I've had their parents before them," Massey said.

The end of the 2005-2006 school term last week marked the end of Massey's career with the district.

Both she and Marvin Beem retired as bus drivers. Beem worked in the district for seven years.

"It's a good community to work for here," Beem said.

Before their collective last rides May 23, the district's transportation staff had a last hurrah for Massey and Beem.

"I've no bad feelings here or with the people," Beem said. "I've enjoyed myself."

The feeling seemed to be mutual for Massey.

"After long enough, you become family," Massey said.

After the party, both Beem and Massey walked off to their buses for one last drive.

Massey took her bus from the barn near the district offices to Eudora West Elementary.

Driving over to the school, Massey said some of her past passengers ---- or their parents---- had sent her gifts thanking her for the work she'd done.

"Not all the students knew it was my last day," Massey said.

As the children walked out of the main entrance of West packed full of belongings, yearbooks and other items associated with their last day of school, Massey directed them on her bus.

She was kind but kept students on schedule.

After one passenger told Massey she left something back in the school, Massey let her go back but urged her to hurry.

"The ones you had to get onto the roughest are the ones that come back and give you hugs," Massey said.

Once all the students filed in and sat down, Massey took to the road to drop them off at the Eudora Community Learning Center.

"They're pretty quiet today," Massey said.

After leaving the learning center, Massey continued on the rest of her route. In all, her route covered 26 miles from the district offices to past the old Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

Her route grew with the district, Massey said.

Looking back at her time, some of the best parts of her job came at the beginning and ending of her routes.

"What I always enjoyed was going out early in the morning and seeing the sunrise. It's so pretty in the morning," Massey said. "Then coming in by yourself in the evening and coming home."

In all, Massey said her last ride didn't seem remarkable.

"It was just like usual," Massey said.

Although the ride seemed like business as usual, eventually the fact she drove bus No. 3 for the last time finally sank in.

"It was a little sad," Massey said.

She realized she was going to miss her passengers the most.

"I'm going to miss the kids," Massey said. "I'm going to miss the little ones especially."

After a week of retirement, Massey said things were going fine. She plans on going to more garage sales and visiting family in Colorado.

She'll also still be tooling around town in a yellow vehicle. She drives a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle.

"It's my baby bus," Massey said.

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