He recently parked his big yellow school bus for the last time after first driving one some 40 years ago for the Macon County school system. He began four decades ago by driving a bus full-time for a year, then several years as a substitute driver and finally 35-years of the full-time driving position.
When he first began driving he also hauled whey and fed hogs for a living. The morning and afternoon routes allowed him time to do other things in mid-day.
In the past few years he has hauled the children of some of the first students he carried on his route.
“The first year I drove the ‘Galen Station Wagon', ” he said, as if it were a brand ot its own. He describes the bus appearance like a suburban style Chevrolet. “It would hold 16" ( students), reminiscing about an earlier time when he would travel over White Oak Creek and Long Fork Creek and gather students for a drop off at Aubrey Dallas's store at Galen.
“Shorty Holland would pick them up there on the ‘big bus', ” he said. Mr. Louie would then pick up more students in the Galen station wagon from Cave Hollow and other areas on the way to the school.
School bus driving isn't for everyone. Like all drivers he witnessed many memorable events in his driving career. From time to time students would give him trouble, but his approach was the same to all. “I tried not to make no difference, I tried to treat kids the same.” he said.
He's been known to stop the bus and to take some to the principal where they would get, “a good talking to”.
The physical appearance of the buses has changed over the years, "the backs of the bus seats were once lower so you could see better," he said.
Louie was married to Edith Givens Dyer and they had three boys David, Stanley, and Jimmy.
Stanley has two girls; Rachel and Jessica, and they each have two children. Jimmy and wife Stacey have two boys; Hunter and Lucas, and two girls; Marah and Mateah.
After the death of his wife Edith he married Mildred Andrews, but was widowed again in 2006.
A common love for horses runs in his and his children's blood.
“I rode horses all my life,” he said. He owned “Ebony's Dude” for thirteen years, even winning the state show in the Saddle Pleasure class.
“He's a good storyteller too," said Stacy, his daughter-in-law. “The boys say 'Big Dad has always got some stories to tell'." He and the boys enjoy the old western TV shows together.
Louie has known hard work. While driving the bus he grew tobacco, raised hogs, milked cows, and raised a garden.
“I don't garden much now, ” he said, though further discussion revealed he doesn't call raising turnip greens, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, and radishes, "much garden”.
He enjoyed the bus routine picking up students, transporting a load to and from the vocational school and the route home in the afternoon. “I ran four loads a day for 23 years,” he said with pride.
Louie feels that the work ethic of 40 years ago has changed much. He referred to a time when children had hard work to do after school and to a time when parents expectations of the children reflected clearly on those he carried morning and night. He says still, “The good outdoes the bad”.
The courthouse square whittler's bench and Ferguson's fruit market is his retreat now. "He hates that he's not gonna be driving the boys," said Stacey.
He will miss the bus and the laughter and the noise, and the occasional pranks he witnessed that gave a student or two the “special” front seat. But for now, he will whittle away, and tend his garden, and visit with the grandkids; it sounds like his plate is already getting full.
Some might say, "It is the end of something simple and the beginning of everything else."
Good Luck Mr. Louie!