Updated: Aug 14
My father Morris was a bus driver throughout his adult life. He could not help but use his humor while working and thus the headline above. This is an example of his humor while at work. A passenger was waiting at the foot of the door of the bus and asked that question, "Does this bus go to Brooklyn College?" My father replied: "No it graduated!." He would close the door as if to indicate he was pulling away. He inched slowly away and then stopped. He opened the door to confess to the passenger that the bus does go to Brooklyn College. I think they would invariably smile realizing how funny that answer was despite their initial reaction to the door closing.
His humor was further exhibited by the way he interacted with his friends. On several occasions they would all gather at each other's apartments. This time they were at our apartment. I would sometimes be allowed to stay in the living room. Of course, the children should be seen but not heard rule was in full effect. Soon I was like the fly on the wall watching their bantering and laughter. Invariably all of them would tell a joke and my father would be no different.
The joke I remember, with fondness, was my father telling the group of friends of how this man took a flight on Transworld Airlines (TWA) and was happy to be taking his first flight. The stewardess came down the aisle and asked him, would you like coffee, tea or milk? The man replied I would like your TWAT(ea) at which the stewardess slapped him in the face. The people in the room all laughed but the loudest laugh came from me, standing in the corner. The group was quickly silenced and with darting glances among them waited for what might come next. When the sound quieted, my father asked, "Marty do you know why the stewardess slapped him in the face?" I replied, yes I did, he was on the wrong airline.
The laughter resumed but it was more a collective sigh of relief, I think. I continued to watch and listen. They continued with their evening of talk, jokes and high-balls and I continued watching in the corner of the room.
Of course the moral of the story, for me, was make sure you know what airline you are on before ordering anything.
His dedication, humor and smile, earned him one the first recognition awards that the city of New York impliemented. The poster above were put on buses and subway trains throughout the 5 boroughs to honor him as Top Operator. Whenever I took the train or a bus I looked for this recognition as a Top Operator. He was always a Top Operator to me.
This was not his dream job. He took it as a temporary job during World War II. He applied to be a fighter pilot but because of a severe case of acne, he did not pass the physical requirements for training. It was a big disappointment to him. Nonetheless, this temporary job became his adult career as a bus drive. He retired from the New York City Transit Authority at the young age of 55 and moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.
I remember his last year on the job when he worked 7 days a week, and holidays, so as to get the maximum pension that was allowed based on money earned during the last year of work.
The only way my sister and I could see him was to get on a bus he as driving to say hello and spend time with him anticipating his responding to "Does this bus go to Brooklyn College? with, No it graduated!
It was special to be able to ride with him during his last year on the job. Love you Pop.