Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Magic Bus

When I was 19 years old, it became obvious that I needed to be able to live independently soon. My sister was already out of the house for a couple of years, and Mom and Dad were planning ahead for when I would leave the nest, too. The house I grew up in was too big for just the two of them, and their dream was to travel and live simply. Dad was nearing 55,and he really didn’t want that day job anymore. Their new lifestyle would be to live in some kind of RV in the winters, then put it in storage in the summer to travel with a Jeep and tent trailer.

So, Mom and Dad starting looking at the commercial RV’s on the market. Most were cheaply constructed and designed more for sleeping lots of people rather than full-time living. My father was at the peak of his engineering and craftsman ability – a mechanical engineer by profession, he also was skilled in welding and construction, able to put his ideas into physical form. So why not build his own motor coach? And that is just what they did.

They purchased a used school bus and drove it home, knocking out the back gate to get it into the backyard. For the next four years Mom and Dad worked on transforming a yellow school bus into what would be their home for the next 20 years. The roof, set at a height suitable for grade schoolers, had to be raised six inches. The sliding glass windows were removed and replaced with a solid exterior. Many square feet of yellow paint was scraped off and the outside primed and painted. And the interior was customized, with open living spaces, nooks and crannies for storage, and beautiful wood paneling and built-in furniture. The engine needed rebuilding, and Mom and Dad pulled the engine out and rolled it to the garage a hundred feet away using old wooden tent poles like the Egyptians built the pyramids -- the engine would roll on the tent poles laid on the ground, and Mom would grab one from the back, place it at the front, and they thus proceeded slowly down the driveway.

Four years later it was complete – this picture was taken on November 6, 1983 on the first drive around the neighborhood. By this time I was out on my own, the house was sold, and Mom and Dad were at the brink of the best years of their lives.

Time passes, and needs change. Mom and Dad moved into a mobile home in Hemet last January, where they can be closer to doctors and shopping. And the bus is on sale on Ebay this week. Just like my parents, there is not another one like it in the whole world.

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All original text and photos are copyrighted Doris Reilly © 2006-2018. No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.
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