|End of an era
Anyone out on the streets of Cottonwood last week might have been shocked to see an old 1956 school bus turn the corner at Tire Guy's last week pulled along by a wrecker!
IF you were old enough to remember the 1950's and '60's, you even might have recognized it as St. Gertrude's Academy's second bus, driven usually by Sabi Frei, and maybe one ridden in by you if you were a student at SGA during that period!
When the school closed in 1970, it was purchased by myself and turned into a camper. The bus had an engine overhaul the year before, so its V-8 Chevy 227 engine had only a 1000 or so miles when turned into a touring camper! My family took it on several trips, as far away as Disneyland, but several times to Spokane, to Seattle, to McCall, to Boise, and various other trips, probably totaling 5000 or more miles on the motor. Several of you "Golden Oldies" still living in Cottonwood, might well remember the many trips taken to area restaurants by anywhere from six to fourteen adults, for an outing for an evening! Possible also that you were in Riggins, when stopping for gas, the old faithful would not start. For many heated minutes in the hot Riggins sun, my bus and myself endured a ton of smart remarks, until.....eagle eye
Buddy Hood spotted a wire that had come loose under the engine hood! On our way and smart remarks squelched.
For myself, seeing the old bus leave was a bit nostalgic, as I have come to know that my birthplace amazingly, was Cottonwood! And my siblings and I went to school here at old St. Joseph's grade school and myself personally graduated from SGA in 1955. Completing college, I returned to SGA when offered a job there, after I had asked only for a recommendation from my old principal, Sr. Augustine. Leaving for a job offer at Bishop Kelly in 1964, my destiny again changed as I had the good fortune of being selected for math updating sessions at Reed College in Portland over four summers and at San Jose State College during the school year '64 -'65. Offered a teaching job at Palo Alto near San Jose, at a big 400 boy Catholic high school, my family returned to Cottonwood and SGA when offered my position back there.
During my first years at SGA, I drove that bus from Greencreek each morning to SGA, just in time for school to start, and then drove the students home afterward for a time, until coaching BB ended the after school trip. Many times some of you readers took BB trips to games as far away as Anatone with George Henry or Sabi Frei as the pilot.
So, goodby old bus, laid up at my home for several years with a hole in the gas tank, two flat rear tires, and a blown head gasket! It is now in the hands of Bruce Gibbs from Kamiah, is being tuned up at Forsmann Repair, and sometime in the future you will probably see the old bus completely restored and back on its wheels! Indeed, the end of an era for myself, SGA, and many of you!
But hasten to add, our return each time we left back to Cottonwood was the best blessing our family could ever have been given! So myself, born here, worked here, will probably die here, with a grave site already purchased for my wife and myself, at our Cottonwood cemetery!
officially at birth given the name Patrick J. (Jerry) Wren
Jake Wren recently sold the old school bus he purchased when St. Gertrude’s Academy closed. The bus had served as one of the Academy’s buses and was driven for years by Sabi Frei. Photos by Shelley Schlader.