Burke School Buses

During the generation of the webmaster's parents, students walked up to several miles to school. By the 1950s, however, the Burke District had added school buses. There were two buses, one of which carried high school students to and from Diboll High School.

The best known school bus driver was Jake Lee, who lived adjacent the school. When Jake retired, he was succeeded by Jim Spears. The other bus was driven by Ray Hambrick.

Jake's route took him north where he picked up Andy Melancon, Leon Tidwell and several others. The road between the Tidwells and Zusle Rush's home makes a very sharp turn, and there was an old log road that passed through the pine timber starting in front of the Tidwells' house and exiting south of the Rush home, creating the illusion of a short cut. Several of the boys decided they could beat the bus around the main road by running down the log road through the woods. They finally convinced Jake to let them try. He gave them a head start at the Tidwell home and drove on around to the other end of the road. Finally, the boys straggled out of the woods, huffing and puffing, only to find the bus and Jake waiting for them with a big smile on his face.

For a short time one bus was driven by Mayke (May) Duval, the step-grandfather of the Rose children. During his first week on the job the bus was involved in a tragic accident. The bus had to be turned around on the shoulder of Highway 59 south of Burke not far north of the intersection of FM 2497, which necessitated its being backed onto the highway. That day there was an early morning fog that obscured the bus, and it was rear-ended by a car. One person was killed in the car, but fortunately no one was hurt on the bus. Mr. Duval was blamed for the accident and charged with vehicular manslaughter, but he was acquitted. However, his bus driving career was over.

Another tragedy was averted by Jim Spears bus driving skills. One morning the webmaster was on Jim Spears' bus when it crossed the tracks by Chester Johnson's house north of Burke. The railroad crossing was very rough, and Jim had to slowly ease the wheels across the tracks. The track north of the crossing had a blind curve, and just as Jim got the front wheels across the first rail a freight train came roaring around the bend whistle screaming. Miraculously, Jim was able to get the bus in reverse and get it off the tracks before the train arrived.

  1. M. Lee Murrah, Personal Recollections