Born to be Wild

There is something so appealing to me about driving a bus, something almost magical. Today we went to the Living Room Cafe, a place where people in need can get a fresh cooked breakfast, ordered as if in a restaurant. The students act as waiters, taking orders and bussing tables. The only way the students can get there is by bus and I got to drive it today. Maybe the appeal for me has to do with the handle that when pulled into an arc opens the two large bus doors, maybe it’s the panel with the awesome buttons for mysterious functions, maybe it’s the very cool side mirrors which jut to the front of both sides of the bus at an almost 30 degree angle, maybe it’s the oversize steering wheel.

The first time I ever drove a bus was the summer after I graduated from high school. My summer job was the waterfront director at a camp for “emotionally disturbed girls,” the Luella Cummings Home. In actual fact, most of the girls at the school were hardly emotionally disturbed. Most were “deemed” promiscuous young women by some juvenile court or were pregnant. Part of my job was driving a bus from Toledo to the camp somewhere in Michigan. I got the job swearing that I could drive stick shift when actually I hadn’t a clue how.

It was 1968 and the hit song was Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” The girls and I loved it. It captured the spirit of the times. and it somehow captured the dilemma of their present situation. I was only 6 months, maybe a year older than they were. There but for the grace of god was I driving that bus rather than riding in it. Whenever the song came on the radio, the girls would get up in the aisle of the bus and dance with great heart and exuberance. It was their theme song and would often sing it in the cabins or at the waterfront.

Each drive was about 2 hours between Toledo and the Michigan camp. Because I couldn’t drive stick, there were lots of stalls and jerks and restarts and stalls again as I gradually, very gradually, coaxed my skill to greater facility, with the shouted encouragement of (and lots of laughter from) my busload of spirited and bold young women.

When I drove the bus today (an automatic by the way), I couldn’t get the song out of my head. Today, driving that bus, loaded with a group of young, enthusiastic, and abundantly hormonal teenagers, I was transported back to 1968, and remembered how I was born to be wild.

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never want to die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

This entry was posted in growing up, music, school and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Born to be Wild

  1. leamuse says:

    Perhaps different images come to mind, but the time and song, I remember it well! 🙂

  2. Jerome Bloom says:





  3. Wow. Another amazing detail I didn’t know about you.

  4. Next time, you have to dance in the aisles on the way back from the cafe! Get the kids to take a picture of you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s