Can we ever get enough busing stories? The answer is YO. I mean, NES. I mean... wha?
Today we have guest blogger CARLA JOHNSON with her own eduhorrifyin' experience:
I have an IRONIC story of mandatory busing for you. When the new 'district lines' were drawn, we were paired up with Whittier Elementary. Since Whittier was built in 1883, it was imploding and a new one built (at 25th and Downing. Yet, for photogenic purposes we were on the 'tour' for the new kids) at Moore at 8th and Downing With a TV crew from Channel 4, in-tow. "A Tour of new schools… for Peace and Harmony." Even though we weren't going to Moore, we were promised everything was "about the same."
Originally, my other friends chickened out and went to the neighborhood Catholic School (white flight). My parents (and GRAND parents) WERE liberal (as you pointed out), AND we had black friends. My grandparents had black friends. I was taught YOUNG how NEVER to harbor prejudice in your heart.
Busing was POORLY planned. We'd waste an HOUR on the bus, daily. We did this for the first 2 YEARS, the last year, we went ALL DAY up at Whittier, then the other half the year was ALL DAY at our Home School. At least we were wasting an hour on the bus HALF the year. And YES! Whilst on the bus, bus mischief was made!
Anyhoo, the TV Peace tour went great! AND Moore Elem. still stands today. But it was a bait and switch. We went from fairly friendly "Tit Town," as Monty Monahan HAD to stand on his seat and announce every time our bus went by. I'm surprised he got a chuckle EVERY time (for THREE years. Mostly by "geniuses" like Robert Smith, who put a baby gerbil in his mouth and he accidentally swallowed it). But we ended up 12 blocks north of there, in "5 Points". NOT A COOL place to be when, coincidentally, "Roots" came out.
Here's my huge CHILDHOOD BULLYING MOMENT. My deskmate (we were 2 to-a-desk) and a few other girls wanted some of this new KIDS' GOLD that was just developed: "BUBBLE YUM" (before the 'Spider Eggs' controversy). I had some in my CLEAR book bag (I saved up for it) and my deskmate and her friends saw it and wanted it. I said "No!" I had people who were nice to me, but it wasn't THIS crowd. (Plus, it had just come out, I saved up for it, and wanted to savor it for myself.) So they threatened to "kick my ass" if I didn't give them the gum. So I sighed and said "alright"… none left.
At lunch everything was OK until we left the lunchroom door, where you walked past a power transformer (there's a FENCE now, thanks to this incident). We were supposed to go around the gym and to the playground, where we were able to watch the wrecking ball destroy the beautiful old school.
I was with a friend who pushed me up to the cement transformer surface to survey the earth below (NO supervision), and my friend was down below when we both heard "Whatever happened to that girl who's ass you were going to kick"? MY DESKMATE said "oh yeah" and turned and pushed me OFF the 6' surface, and my friend, Lisa Green CAUGHT ME. I ran the WRONG WAY. I ran to the FRONT of the school, under the Principal's office, NOT to the supervised playground.
I ran as fast as I could, but my deskmate caught me under the NEW WHITTIER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL sign where my deskmate and her older sister amassed a group of 30 girls who punched, kicked, scratched, slapped, and pulled my hair out. And they took everything in my book bag, (including my GIANT stack of unused Garbage Pail stickers I had collected).
They ripped the dress my mom made, which was coincidentally the one I wore on TV as the "busing 'Peace' ambassador." At the moment they were trying to stand me up and fight the sisters. (I was TRYING not to cry, but after they pulled my hair out N, S, E, W, at the same time I couldn't help it.) I saw a couple of friends peek around the corner, so I talked, no, SCREAMED with MY EYES: "HELP ME!!" and before I knew it adults were on the scene.
But the school didn't call my parents(!), whom I BEGGED to come to school the next day with me (they wouldn't)… they didn't "GET it"--the whole story, that is.
Later, I found out my deskmate and her sister had a "record" for that and were expelled from DPS. A few other girls "disappeared," too.
That was 4th grade. For the next 2.5 years everyone KNEW that to make me shrivel up into the fetal position they just had to threaten to "kick my ass." They'd laugh and then give me the "ways out." When "Roots" came out it made ME more empathetic, but the general populous angry. All the white kids were "made slaves." I "belonged" to a FRIEND (thank god), but the most violent kid in the school was Cheryl Potter. She'd smack teachers… anyway, she re-named me "Bones." I didn't gain a pound from 4th 'til 6th.
MY IDIOT WHITE BULLY* in Denver (who's bullied me, then inserted herself into my parents' probate (WHO DOES THAT?) - (But, yeah, a story I should sell in a novel, for another day…) of *Heidi Prescott, now Agnew) from South Denver asked me "Why weren't you prejudice after that happened to you? I never could understand that." "That's not me," I said. "I had more friends hugging me and trying to put me back together than were in the gang that beat me. Boys, too."
I was PUT on Student Council by the Principal. I got to meet Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Sr. I got to hug both and asked all kinds of questions about how can I help the world for this student-Peace Summit! And got to go to see Earth, Wind and Fire at Gilpin Elementary… SWEET (they were Gilpin Alumni!). They gave us a concert after the Q&A session. I didn't talk to anyone about my ass whoopin', didn't life give them a worse ass whoopin'?*
I started to go to the houses of the friends I made (especially where my friends with a single mom and the house was in incredible disrepair - sad. It was SO sad, in fact, my 6th grade teacher, who lived in South Cherry Creek (being a family friend of my parents), came up to my parents at a FONDUE dinner to have ALL the girls over for a "sleep over" (I bet you can't do that these days!). She drove me and 4 friends - she came in to see my mom and say "hi" while the girls came in, and I was embarrassed to show them our worn out '60's furniture, and while I was grabbing some records to play they said "WOW, YOU'RE RICH!"
We went upstairs, my mom gave them cookies, and we were on our way. I said, "I'm not rich, WAIT until you get to Mrs. Glorfeld's house!" (During the sleepover, we lost the class hamster, but otherwise, for a moment, we were on a "retreat" (the guys got there's the week after).)
p.s. Oh yeah, I came from swim practice and had pigtails in my hair as I walked up to South High for the first time registering. I encountered Randy Rundell who said "Are YOU expecting to wear pigtails in THAT building? Think again…" as he ripped up my registration cards. I got inside, and they couldn't use my cards, so I didn't get into ANY class I'd planned on or wanted. I still think he's probably off somewhere being a dick.