Feb. 10, 2020

A SIMPLE WAY OF LIFE CAN BRING THE ULTIMATE HAPPINESS.

In the forties, very-few people owned automobiles.  Most everyone rode city buses, peddled bicycles, or walked.  I knew one woman who pushed her husband (a talented Tailor) to work-- in his wheelchair-- every day-- rain or shine. Thank goodness for sidewalks!

 Most Friday nights I stayed overnight with my Grandmother.  She patiently spent time teaching me to read…encouraging me to spell…and to excel in all areas of learning. She couldn’t afford a car so she never learned to drive.  But it didn't matter because we enjoyed taking the bus to the grocery store, to the library, and most Saturday afternoons…to a movie.

 And most of the time, her neighbor Carolyn would also be on the bus. My Grandmother knew Carolyn’s father because he worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad, in the office next to my Grandmother.  She heard him talk about Carolyn’s birth; about the many doctors who evaluated her condition; about all the doctors agreeing that nothing could be done about Carolyn’s right leg being ten inches shorter than her left leg.

Regardless of where the bus stopped to pick-up Carolyn, the driver would leave his seat to reach down and help her climb the three very-steep-stairs onto the bus. She always smiled and said “thank you”. The bus driver never started the bus until Carolyn was safely in a seat. When Carolyn stood to leave the bus, there was always a gentleman---either black or white—ready to help her down the challengingly-steep stairs.

 I remember times when the bus was so crowded-- people were standing in the aisles but—when Carolyn got on the bus---young and old men alike, rushed to help her to their seats. She always smiled; she never-failed to say “thank you”; and she demonstrated the grace and dignity of a beautiful young lady.  

No one seemed to notice Carolyn's severe limp or the big, clumsy, built-up shoe she wore on her right foot. No doubt everyone had—at some time---heard the sad story of the pretty little girl---an only child---who was born with a short leg, a leg that never grew to match her other leg.

Educators, in an attempt to shield Carolyn from the potential stares and ugly comments of other students, set up a schedule of home learning for Carolyn that existed from the first grade until she earned enough credits to receive a high school diploma.

It wasn’t long before a popular department store on Pine Bluff’s Main Street offered Carolyn a job in their bookkeeping department.  Day after day, Carolyn rode the bus…to and from her job. In fact, she worked in the same office for more than forty years.

Eventually, Carolyn lost both parents, the department store was forced to close… and, for the first time-ever, Carolyn was alone. But, it seems she already had a plan.

Traditionally, every city bus has a turn-around spot where the driver stops and changes the bus’s outside sign.  Then the driver turns the bus around….and drives in the opposite direction. The turn-around spot for the East 2nd Bus was located in front of the town’s oldest nursing home. Carolyn lost no time relocating to the nursing home.  The bus, the bus drivers, and all the passengers on the bus had—for years—been her best friends---her family. Soon, everyday, Carolyn was touring the town on her bus.  She visited with the bus drivers and the passengers…and appeared to be completely happy.

Carolyn found her place in this world. She found contentment with her familiar routine and with the many familiar faces. Everytime I saw her---- she was smiling, talking, and enjoying her simple life.