By Mike Avitt
This picture was loaned to me years ago by Max and Maxine Anderson. Max's father, Jesse, was a bus driver. The Ford Garage was across the street south of the Mount Ayr Mill & Feed, which Jesse owned.
We can see two billboards across the street on the corner where United Food Market would build their new store in 1954. My newspaper notes say United Food Market bought these lots from Billie Finch in February 1954.
School bus service was implemented in the Mont Ayr school system in 1939. In June of that year plans were made to purchase a school bus because of the lack of town schools in the southern part of the county.
Many students in that part of the county couldn't continue with their high school education because of transportation costs.
The Mount Ayr School Board moved to purchase a 35-passenger Superior School Bus and it arrived in August 1939. The cost was approximately $1500. After fourteen potential drivers submitted bids, George Kidney was selected as the first bus driver. His pay would be $30 a month. The lowest bid submitted was $26 a month.
The first bus route drawn up by the school board started east of Caledonia and continued west until it reached State Highway 169. The route then made its way north to Mount Ayr. Students taking the bus would pay an annual tuition of $9 because they lived outside of the Mount Ayr School District.
Of course, buses wouldn't travel on mud roads. I know the Sale Barn Road (Ringgold County Road P-46) was graveled in 1935. It seems to me the first bus route used this road and county road J-55. I don't know when J-55 was graveled.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2017