Washington … or bust!

Posted March 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm


by Forest Harvey

Sixty four years ago (1948-49) as a freshmen at Clinton County High School, the Class of 1952 set its sights on a trip to Washington, DC. Mary Ina Smith was our class sponsor for the four years. For most of us, if not all, it would be our first trip there. We started the planning early to raise the necessary funds needed to make the trip. We started a number of fundraising projects. Two of our projects failed, our Yearbook and The Senior Play.

As time passed we requested bids from Greyhound Bus Lines and Short Way Lines. When the bids came in we found we were short of the needed money. We found an alternative way. Wolf Creek Transportation Company, owned by a very nice man whose name was Mr. Coffey. He would take us to Washington for the money we had. So we were on our way!

The school bus, type 6-cylinder, stick shift, blue and white, had a luggage rack on top. On the side was painted Wolf Creek Transportation Company. Our luggage was placed on the rack and covered with two big tarps.

Guess where me made our first stop? “Wolf Creek Dam.” Some of the class had never seen it before. (Eddie Lovelace and I were there together for the dedication. We had caught a ride on a flat bed truck.) After a rest stop and checking the tarps, we were on our way.

After a day of riding, we spent our first night on the road in Bristol, Tennessee at Martha Washington’s Inn. At supper all four country boys at my table drank milk. It was served in paper containers, the first we had ever seen. Dwight Sells cut his open with his knife. I waited to see how Eddie Lovelace opened his and followed him. We were up early the next day and were on our way to the big city.

In those days the Appalachian Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway were steep. The radiator in the bus got hot and we all had to walk up Skyline Drive. I wondered in my mind if the people who saw us knew that “Here comes the Judge,” Eddie C. Lovelace, Class President and the Class of ‘52 from CCHS in Albany, Kentucky.

The second day we reached our destination. We were to stay in Letterman’s Tourist Home on F Street. We got to see all of the sights that we went to Washington to see. We walked up the steps to the top of the Washington Monument and rode the elevator down. I did not see any cracks in it back then. Ms. Smith was once mistaken for Marilyn Monroe. Of course, we all had our pictures made in front of the Capitol with our State Senator.

Mr. Coffey was a good tour guide. He had been there before with other students. Everyone could see that we were from “Wolf Creek,” wherever that was. It was printed on the side of the 1950 Chevrolet bus.

It was fun to watch the little children dance in the streets if you would throw them money. When you stopped throwing money, the dancing stopped. Not much has changed in Washington, DC in some ways.

I do remember a funny story about three of the guys and Ms. Smith. They came to Letterman’s Tourist intoxicated. They had started up the stairs and she noticed them. She named one of them and told him to come down. He stopped and said, “I have to pee.”

The trip home was a hot one. No AC in that bus. We rode with all the windows down, which cut Mr. Coffey’s gas mileage, as did the luggage and rack on top. I do not remember where we spent the last night on the way home. We may have slept on the bus. The most of us were out of money. Gale Cross still had a five dollar bill but he did not want to break it. “Hello, Albany.” It was good to be home.

Without Mr. Coffey, the most of us would never have been able to go to Washington, DC. He was a good driver and tour guide. He may be deceased. Blessings on his soul.

Forest Harvey