"Old Red" the hooked up, dented, bounced around, elderly 24 passenger bus was retired with a celebration-of-life service on Sept 11, 2018. The beloved "Old Red" has served faithfully, and sometimes not so faithful, for 38 years. It was a sad, mixed blessing, happy day. Although Red's last run up to one of the highest points on Dickinson Cattle Co. was uneventful, not all of Old Red's land voyages were without incident.
As Old Red aged the jumper cables were needed more often. Different parts seem to have new sounds and unappreciated screaks increased. Red had been buried in ranch mud, high centered on rocks, pulled out by tractors, once hung a corner on the guest pavilion, poked by Watusi horns and one even got her head and horns caught in the door causing a rapid exit of guests out the back escape.
Old Red came off the Detroit Chevrolet assembly line in 1985. Red's first, and best 206,273 miles were easy hauling children for a Meigs County public school up until 2001 when purchased by Longhorns Head To Tail Tours of Barnesville, OH. Red saw hundreds of kids hammered over the head with books and pig-tails yanked, yet seldom was one culprit proven guilty.
When Red's home became Longhorns Head To Tail an older set of passengers were a little more mellow on the aging seat covers. Red was in service for narrated tours of the Longhorn ranch for most of 18 bouncy years.
Red started out with the traditional yellow and black public school colors. Promptly when hitting the tourism trails he was painted bright purple with spots. A 10 foot long tail was installed to swing gracefully in the back -- everything else in the pasture had a tail -- why not? Later in the evolution of service Red received the bright Red color which was proudly carried to his eternal rest.
Red had some problems. Normal buses don't have coon problems. When a tour narrator would accidentally leave a small door opening, the aggravating varmints would sneak in to eat the cow candy treats remaining on the bus. At times there were coon tracks on-top-of, under and all around the dash, seats and even windows. Tour guests had to wait until the coonulation process was fumigated.
Old Red was made in the USA with no flimsy plastic parts or computer components to short out; made to wear to the very last and keep going and going -- something of bygone golden years.
Over the years several horns were installed. First the standard weak Chevrolet mellow sound, then an old-fashioned ooga horn, a high pitch truck horn, then after the excessive pasture bouncing just no horn at all.
The maiden voyage was in 2001 with the Barnesville Chamber of Commerce. There was an official ribbon cutting. Celebrities from the local area declared that the tours were a hit and thousands of people, of all ages have ridden Red the following years, rubbernecking out the windows. Thousands of pounds of cow candy have been handed out the windows to anxiously waiting long-horned cattle.
Unlike Red, most end-of-life school buses are melted for recycled steel. An EPA government program, supposedly to reduce emissions, now offers select government (not private) school buses a 25% of new purchase price if the bus is cut in half and a 3-inch hole is drilled through the motor.
Due to the great years of service the owners decided to rest Red on a tall hill with a mile of visibility from Ohio State Highway #800. Old Red lives on, no torches, no coons or possum -- the doors are closed. There is a clear view for thousands of people to recall Old Red's great service to all who were lucky enough to have been aboard. Old Red stands proudly -- as his own memorial.