Below is an excerpt from Doug Evan’s “Doug’s Rainier Blog“, an also a former student from Ashford who knew what long bus rides were like. In many ways, things haven’t changed much since 1946.
“Getting to school from Longmire was not always easy and , on occasion, could be very interesting. During my twelve years of school at Ashford Grade School and Eatonville High School, 1934-1946, we Mount Rainier kids caught the school bus each morning about 7:00 AM, either at the park headquarters building, or some years during World War II the bus only came up as far as the Nisqually Entrance.
Parents took turns driving us down and picking us up in the evenings at Gateway Inn. During most of my grade school days we lived up at the mill site of the Paradise Mining and Milling Co., and so I had an extra two miles to go, usually with my dad who drove to Longmire to work each morning in our 1929 Model A Ford. In winter the road was usually plowed early up beyond the mill site, but occasionally it wasn’t, and if the night’s accumulation of snow was a foot or more, we had to walk. Yes, I actually did walk two miles through a foot of snow to get to school, but rarely.
Getting to and from Eatonville High School entailed seventy miles on the bus each day. We used this time variously: snoozing, reading, chatting, quarreling, singing, and shooting craps. Yes, one of the boys from National made a small portable crap table over which lunch money ebbed and flowed. This was all during World War II, so the popular music of the day was dominated by patriotic and romantic songs, often laments for husbands and lovers who were overseas in the military. These were the songs commonly heard on the bus ride to and from Eatonville.
Another aspect of that bus ride was the abundant army traffic on the road. Convoys of army trucks were common and could slow the flow of traffic for miles. Occasional companies of marching recruits were strung out along the road between Longmire and Elbe, sometimes in rain or snow. One morning an army tank misjudged a sharp curve near the old town of Alder and was stuck nose down over a steep bank.
So, I think it’s safe to say that those two hours each day on the school bus were not boring. I have fond memories of it. It ended with my graduation in the EHS Class of 1946; there were 37 of us. We had a delightful 50th reunion party in Eatonville in 1996.”