Updated 29 August 1997

Stories from Long Ago...

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Mr. Dempsey the Bus Driver Submitted by Patty Reidy Miron

Our bus driver's name was Mr. Dempsey and he wore a toupee. He was a real mean bus driver and didn't take any crap from us kids. (Thinking back on the stuff we did, I now don't blame him as I wouldn't have either!!) Anyhow, we all got on the bus and we were loud, etc. Somebody threw something and he caught it in his mirror. At this point, we hadn't even left the school grounds. Anyway, he wanted to know who threw the item and of course no one would fess up. So finally, one of the guys said he did it, even though he didn't, just so we could get on the road and get home. So Mr. Dempsey started up the bus and away we went. At the time, the town was putting in new sewer lines on Stony Hill Road so we had to detour up Glen Drive and then come down the street next to Sunset Inn or Diner down on Boston Road. I can't remember the name of it now. Anyhow, we got up Glen Drive and we were all acting up again, so he pulled the bus over on the side of the road and shut it off until we could behave. We must have sat there for about 10 minutes and finally we shut up. While we were sitting there, a cop came by and wanted to know what was wrong. As soon as we saw him, we all shut up and were as good as gold. Mr. Dempsey told the cop nothing and that we were going to be on our way. The cop left and Mr. Dempsey started up the bus to begin our journey home. All was fine until someone yelled out "Toupee Away"!! It was hysterical!! We were all laughing so hard on the bus. Well, Mr. Dempsey slammed on the brakes, shut the bus off and opened the door and got off. We couldn't believe he just walked away from all of us (not the I blame him or anything!!) He started walking toward a house to call for help. Well, while we are sitting there again, the cop comes back on by and now is wondering where our bus driver is. We just all pointed to the house he went to. The cop goes to the house and of course, we don't know what kind of trouble we will all be in at this point, but we sat there another 10 minutes or so. Finally, someone showed up from the bus garage and gets on her bus and drives us home. Don't know what ever happened to Mr. Dempsey that day, unless he had a nervous breakdown or something. I don't remember if we got in trouble or not a school but I'm sure we must have. We didn't see Mr. Dempsey for a couple of days but when he finally returned, it was as though nothing had happened. I still laugh about it now when I think about it.

The "Spiked" Sneakers by Joe Roberts

Most people probably remember "Project Adventure" in gym (I also heard it referred to as "Outward Bound"). There were many challenging (and rather dangerous) activities associated with this program. Remember the log that was resting between 2 trees at about 25 feet up? The object was to walk across without falling. There was another large log leaning up against a tree; the object was to walk up the rather steep incline (again, without falling). There was also a high wall to climb over, and a platform on a tree from which people had to jump from (and land on another platform).

I had a gym class that was A block... at that time much of the "apparatus" was still quite wet with dew (and hence very slippery). I had seen several people slip and fall off of various logs from the dew. Not wanting to fall into the category of looking like a fool (landing on my butt in front of the whole class), I began to think of what I could do to prevent (or greatly minimize) the risk of being embarrassed. Eventually I came up with a plan: install sharp "spikes" on the bottom of my sneakers... the spikes would dig into and grip the wet logs much better than ordinary sneakers.

To make the "spiked" sneakers, I took my gym sneakers and installed about eight or nine 5/8 inch sheet metal screws through the bottom of each one (from the inside). I tried them out in the woods at home and they worked pretty well (but were slightly uncomfortable due to the screw heads digging into the bottom of my feet). I soon found out (the first time I wore them at school) that they were very painful to wear on a hard surface (like the hallways in school). They also made a bit of a "clacking" sound as the screws dug into the tile floor. On the long walk down J hall, my feet were killing me!

Finally the day came to put them to the test on the Project adventure apparatus. But... I wasn't selected to go up or across a high log... today the class activity was to get everyone over the high (about 10 feet) wall! Most people got over the wall by having two or three of the larger guys lift them up to the top. Seeing this procedure (and knowing what would happen to their hands if they grabbed the bottom of my sneakers to lift me up) I hesitated and stayed towards the back of the group. Finally I was the only one left... I was going to be forced to warn them to prevent badly cut hands. I began to explain to the guys (can't remember who they were) about the screws sticking out of the bottom of my sneakers. Mr. Whalen sensed the delay and came over to find out what the problem was. Finally I just lifted up one of my feet so people could see for themselves... Mr. Whalen had a look on his face like "I've seen everything now...". No one wanted to lift me up to the top of the wall with those sneakers, so the activity was considered "complete". I was pretty embarrassed about having to "disqualify" myself from the wall, but not as embarrassed as I would have been had I fallen out of a tree! After my "cover" was blown, several people started calling me "Spike". Eventually I did get to use the spiked sneakers on the "balance beam walk"... at no time did I slip and fall!

As a side note, all of the Project Adventure stuff at Minnechaug is gone. The woods where most of it was located is now a cleared out grassy area. In today's "lawsuit" oriented climate, I doubt any school would risk having "Project Adventure" on the curriculum!

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