Elissa Krakauer, Freddy Jao, Nora Lehman, Rachel Elkin (behind Nora)
Sara Krakauer, Elizabeth Barr (behind Sara), Catherine Barr, Jocelyn Meek
The number of children on our dead-end street has gone up and down over the years. The picture above was taken in 1984, so all the children shown are now adults. But when they were younger, the bus stop at the end of the street was an important place both for them and their parents.
To the left is a picture of Elissa contemplating her first step out into the real world, as, with her mother, she awaits the bus that will take her off to kindergarten.
Although she looks a bit nervous, kindergarten must not have been too traumatic, since by now, Elissa has traveled to more than thirty countries. You can click on the picture to see a larger version, and then return here with your browser's "Back" button.
The bus would come around a curve on the crossing street and stop to make the pickup. It's illegal in most states to pass a stopped school bus. But in addition, as the years went by, the drivers developed a technique of stopping in a way that entirely blocked the street, so that no driver would be tempted to try to pass during the loading operation in the morning, or the unloading in the late afternoon.
The bus stop was not just a meeting place for the students. It was also a gathering of the parents, particularly on the first day of school of each semester. It became traditional for the parents to gather in one of the homes for coffee and tea after the bus departed on the first day.
Seen to the right, Esther Elkin, Carolyn Meek, and Margie. Parents from longer distances down the street sometimes drove their children to the stop, instead of walking. Again, you can click on the picture for a larger version.
Neighborhood friendships made the waiting and the trip easier. Elissa and Ursula are seen below on the left, and Sara and Catherine on the right, both photos taken at the bus stop. They are still friends decades later, even though Ursula and Catherine now live in Texas.
Eventually the bus arrived (it must have looked very large to the kids).
A very tall pine tree stands on the corner - I'd guess that it's about 35 meters tall (115 feet), and the diameter of its trunk is about 0.8 meters (about 2.5 feet). It's the one on the right with the red tape around its trunk in the picture below.
But another tree was even more fun - it had a low horizontal branch that made for easy climbing, and it was strong enough for several children to sit on it at once. Someone also had hung a swing from one of its higher branches.
Nothing lasts forever. Those trees are now a pretty sad sight (picture to left).
The climbing tree has died, and its branches have all broken off. The lowest branch snapped, and the sharp end has been sawed off for safety, as you can see.
That red tape around the base of the tree on the right tells you that it's not long for this world. It's marked by the Town for removal. Even in 1980, it was rotted in the center of its trunk, and it leaned at an angle over the road. The Town has finally decided that there's now a strong chance of it coming down some day in a storm. Note 2
Our kids having grown, we no longer visit the bus stop, except to pass by on the way to somewhere else. But there are now new children who wait there for the bus.
February, 2018 update: Over five and a half years after I first posted this entry, the climbing tree has gotten even more decrepit. Its branches and bark are falling off, and it's full of holes made by boring insects and woodpeckers. The old swing is rotting on the ground, frozen into a pile of snow.
But there's now a new generation. Here's a picture of Elissa's daughter Darwin visiting the climbing tree. Darwin will turn five at the end of February, 2018, and she'll start attending kindergarten in September. But she won't stand at this bus stop, as she doesn't live in Wayland.
(You can click on the picture to enlarge it, and then, in most browsers, click on it again to zoom in.)
By the way, the big pine on the corner was removed - there's nothing left of it but a stump.
Note 1: Someone my age can't see the title "Bus stop" without thinking of the movie of the same name, starring Marilyn Monroe.
The movie was loosely based on a play by the same name written by William Inge. I once saw a "summer stock" performance of the play in the small town of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, when I was at Camp Robinson Crusoe for the summer (either as a camper or a counselor - I don't remember which).
The performance was in a room in what is now the Sturbridge Town Hall, which was used as a "theater in the round", with the audience wrapped three-quarters of the way around the performers.
The "stage" didn't have a lot of maneuvering room. In one scene, there was a staged "fight" between two of the characters, and one of the actors accidentally bumped into a prop, a standing rack filled with magazines. As it fell over, with great presence of mind, he reached out and grabbed it with a free hand, pulled it back to an upright position, and continued his fistfight with the other actor. [return to text]
Note 2: Removing the tree will not be easy, since, as I noted above, it's probably about 35 meters tall. What I didn't note is that it also is leaning over a 7,900 volt power line feeding our entire street. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the power has to be turned off to be able to remove the tree safely.
Below, you can see the base of the tree on the left, which looked more or less like that even in 1980. On the right, the official Town notice of a tree removal hearing (the notice can be enlarged by clicking on it).
I didn't attend the hearing, so I don't know what conclusion was reached. [return to text]