Media Archive

SAD 68 bus driver retires after 35 years

Article from Bangor Daily News, Friday, June 16, 2006

By Diana Bowley
Staff Writer


DOVER-FOXCROFT - Nola Shannon's shock of white hair didn't come overnight; in fact, it took just about 35 years, the same amount of time she's been employed as a SAD 68 bus driver.

Really, Shannon, who retired this week as a chauffeur for district children, said she had actually enjoyed the job. But at 77, the woman with the quiet demeanor and wide smile figured it was time to let someone younger take over the wheel of Bus 7.

"I've enjoyed it; it's been good, and the schools, the teachers and the bus company have backed us up," she said Wednesday during a surprise retirement party thrown by her employer and fellow bus drivers.

Shannon wasn't looking for a job when Eugene Gammon of Dover-Foxcroft approached her in 1971 to become a bus driver. She figured she would give it a try and ended up staying longer than any other bus driver in the district.

Jenny Chase, bus transportation supervisor, recalled riding the bus with Shannon at the wheel in the 1970s. She said Shannon most often would take the athletic teams to the away games and oftentimes was the only fan in the audience.

Handling a bus filled with kids was trying at times, according to Shannon. She said there has been a big shift in the attitudes of children over the years. Early on, the children showed respect and gratitude, but that isn't the case today, she said. She still gets a kick out of the youngsters, however.

Chuckling, Shannon recalled one "little fella" who liked to chew on the back of the bus seat. School officials had the boy write her a letter of apology, which she kept over the years. In his letter, the boy wrote that he wouldn't chew the seat anymore and if a seat was found chewed, it wouldn't be him.

Making it a point to walk the full length of the bus to check it each night before she retired, Shannon said she spied a backpack beneath a seat and reached for it one night. Curled up under the backpack was a kindergarten pupil who had fallen asleep.

There were some harrowing moments during her career as a bus driver. Shannon recalled the day a tire from her bus rolled down the road in front her and into the woods. She had just crested a hill when she lost the dual wheels on the bus. The bus stopped and no one was injured, she said.

She also won't forget the time she struck and killed a bear that ran directly in front of her moving bus. That collision with the "poor thing" earned her the nickname "bear killer," she said.

Shannon will continue to do her favorite jigsaw puzzles and just enjoy her retirement, she said.

The bus driver said she has her memories, but she will miss greeting the children in the morning.

"Even now I hate giving it up," Shannon said.



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