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February 5, 2017
New Fairfield Consolidated School opened on January 31, 1941 and it was then that school buses became a reality in town. Prior to that the students attending the one room schoolhouse in their school district would walk to school or if they were lucky a parent would bring them by horse and wagon.
Getting back to 1941 the “rule of thumb” was a student living under a mile from the school would have to walk to school. Those living more than a mile away were bused to school. The buses were station wagons (as shown in the photo) driven by local residents. A wooden sign saying “SCHOOL BUS Stop when bus stops” would be attached to the rear of the car. About eight or ten years later a “big yellow bus” joined the fleet of station wagons.
The students walked from their home to the designated bus stop in their neighborhood which could be quite a distance. For example, the Leach children lived at the very top of Pine Hill Road and had to walk to where Pine Hill Road comes out to Route 37. In the morning it was downhill but after school it was uphill all the way, a distance of at least two miles.
After graduating from 8th grade a bus took us to Danbury High School. For the boys who opted to attend Henry Abbott Technical School one of the older boys who had a driver’s license would drive the group to Danbury. When Bill Delohery and Ronnie Ahrlich drove in the mid-1950s the school was still located on Main Street in Danbury and then opened the new school located on Hayestown Road.
This week when school began in our four schools the station wagons have been replaced by a fleet of probably close to thirty buses that have a seating capacity of 60 to 70 students and travel back and forth over most every road in town.