A Patchwork of Memories

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EILEEN BLANKENSHIP

I was born near Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early 1920's. Raised in the general area of Broken Arrow I attended high school there. Later I went to Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha, Oklahoma where I received a Bachelor's Degree. I continued at University of Tulsa and received a Master's Degree and completed course work toward a Doctoral Degree. For a number of years I worked for Tulsa Public Schools. Kenneth C. Blankenship and I were married and have one daughter, <name withheld>.

HIGH SCHOOL DAYS

By Eileen Blankenship

We lived on a large farm in the country and depended on the school bus for our mode of transportation to and from high school. In those days the term "busing the children" surely did not mean the same or have the meaning that it does for our modern day society. In a sense, we were being bused but did not think of it in those terms-since we were not being taken away from a neighborhood school. In those days the time spent enroute to school and back gave all of us time to become well acquainted and to share our personal experiences. An esprit-de-corps has existed throughout the years and many of us still maintain contact with each other.

My brother and I had to be on schedule every morning in order to catch the bus which arrived at our home about 7.15 a.m. I don't believe we ever missed the bus. Our bus driver was very understanding and patient, but he was a bit elderly to be holding such a job.

When our high school had a football game, we rode the school bus, always hoping for game to be over before we had to board the bus to go home. The game of football was really rough - or at least it seemed that way. I well remember that there would be at least one or two players that ended up with a broken leg, arm or collar bone. There would always be such a scramble of confusion trying to get the player to the doctor. These things always bothered me, since I was a member of the pep squad and had to carry on with the group. I belonged to the Home Economics Club. We made and sold hot dogs, cold drinks, candy and whatever we thought would sell. The proceeds were used to buy band uniforms, or some type of equipment that might be needed in any of the different departments. I always wanted to play in the school band, but since I had been brought up playing the piano, I was not afforded that opportunity. Music had its rewards in later life. I was the pianist for different churches and did a great deal of accompaniment as well as teaching private lessons.

A school bus incident that has remained in my memory, took place on a spring afternoon. We were waiting outside the high school building for the arrival of our bus. Chatting, laughing and such in the manner that high school students do. Everybody appeared to be in a jovial mood boys chasing the girls around the school yard, pulling long curls or braids, to get attention from that "certain someone."

Finally our bus arrived and stopped right in front of our building. We ran pushing and shoving at times to see who could board the bus first. Everybody tried to sit by their special friend - be it girl friend or boy friend. In due time everyone was on, and the driver closed the door. We pulled away from our building - not knowing what was to happen in about ten minutes.

Our bus rolled along the highway approaching an intersection that was not too heavily traveled. We should have stopped, but did not; evidently our driver was blinded by the sun in his eyes. Suddenly our bus was struck broadside, with thirty-two students on it, by another car! It was a terrifying sound, with the crashing of glass, black leather seats being torn from the floor, bodies slamming against each other. My glasses were knocked off. I could not find my books, purse or any of my belongings. I wondered what had happened to my brother, since he was just a seat or two away from me. I tried to get up from my prone position, thinking I must be one of the fortunate ones since I did not see any cuts or feel any broken bones. By then I realized we were upside down in a deep ditch. After several minutes most of us had climbed from the bus through the broken windows and the back door.

I finally located my brother. He was trying to help a neighbor boy who was bleeding profusely from a severe cut on his left arm. My brother and another boy flagged down a passing car and rode into town to get help. Our friend was taken to the hospital where many stitches were taken to sew up the wound and his arm was in a cast for sometime. He was the only unlucky one, because the rest of us got out with minor cuts, scratches and bruises. The news had spread quickly and my parents were relieved to see us both and to know we were not seriously injured.

Strangely enough, my paternal grandmother heard the news over the radio that evening, in Winchester, Tennessee. She was relieved later to know that her two grandchildren were safe - not realizing it was our school bus that had been wrecked.

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