Franklin's construction work, paying $30.00 per week, was ending and
his father's 'Shoreline Motel' was completed. Franklin's mother gathered
ideas - mechanics were required for the newly opened Bethleham mine. "No,
he didn't have any experience working on heavy equipment."
A bus line from Marmora to Belleville was for sale - $10,000.00. No we
didn't have money, it would never make enough to pay for itself. (This
nearly proved to be an accurate fact as our daily fuel was $5.00 and some
days we didn't take in $5.00)
Mrs. Smith Sr. & I encouraged him to at least go to Marmora &
wait for the bus returning from Belleville to see what was involved. I
could see the gleam in Franklin's eyes when he first saw that big, very
red motor coach, trimmed with yellow & all that chrome! Wow! (I know
I never had that effect on him!). The Belleville Intelligencer parcels
were dropped at 2 drugstores & had been left at several locations
en route - a reliable income.
Franklin & I met the bus leaving Marmora the next morning at 6:30,
however, we weren't the only passengers - there were about 35 of us going
to Belleville at a fare of $2.30 return. We rushed to tell Franklin's
parents of the income, surely we could pay for it. Franklin could do his
mechanical work (always helped by Mr. Smith & brother Donald) I was
always busy nursing, wherever we were. That year I had been nursing an
older (cardiac) lady - 7 nights a week. So at $6,00 per 12 hours, I had
about $1000.00 which was our down payment.
The Toronto Highway Transport Board seemed pleased to issue us our license
& explain we must pay a tax per mile. Franklin was young, but they
finally gave us permission. They needed a new name for this line run.
Franklin suggested "Terrier" (Greyhound). There already was
a Smith Bus Line, so I suggested "Franklin".
The new owner, Franklin, dressed in white shirt, tie, suit & long
top coat, met the bus again at 6:30 a.m. ( I was to take the fares) There
wasn't one person going to Belleville that day & very seldom thereafter,
until we carried students. Franklin was depressed, and all I could do
was say a little prayer- Only believe- all things are possible, and get
to the hospital each day from 9:15 - 3:15. This paid $33.00 per week into
Franklin's outstretched hand. The next payment was met when we sold the
car. Can you believe there were other young couples jealous of us?? We
did not waste one nickel. I remember asking Franklin for .30 some cents
for meat for our evening meal. He gave me .30 then I wanted 2 or 3 pennies
further-just in case…
However, we survived, Franklin canvassed businesses for parcel service
- .35 fee - or if large & heavy - .60. There were no tears in our
eyes when a funeral required flowers from Templer's. The only thing Franklin
refused to take were boxes of partially frozen chickens. We tried it once
& the drippings ran up the floor through the bus & he wasn't happy!
We progressed to several school buses. A busy operation, as the larger
school board allowed inter-school activities. We had as many as 16 trips
in one day, adding to our modest bookkeeping duties.
After talking to Mr. DeNure Sr., Franklin was convinced we should try
a tour to the East Coast. I attempted a brochure, set up the overnight
stops, placed an ad in the Marmora paper, obtained 11 days off from the
hospital & we were away. Most of these people knew Franklin from day
trips; but they were very distant with me. It was even worse when they
saw me take my suitcase & shamelessly stay overnight with that 'nice
boy' "The Singing Bus Driver". We finally realized my problem
& I introduced myself as Franklin's wife of 14 years with 3 sons!
A Western Canada tour was taken next. Again, Mr DeNure spoke of a California
tour, the only problem would be a lack of washroom stops through the deserts.
Mr. DeNure had stopped on their tour & said "Ladies go to the
right & men to the left" - along the highway! Fortunately, we
didn't have that problem - but did a lot of worrying about it ( No washrooms
on buses then)
However, our Alaska tour was a real problem for Franklin & his bus.
The dirt road with potholes & long days of travel (3 hours of
darkness) were too much for Franklin. He refused to go again - loud
& clear! One day we had a very scenic drive high in the mountains.
Just beautiful, until Franklin whispered to me "no brakes".
Two ladies from Manitoba had joined us en route. One liked to sing,
unknowingly she sang "Nearer My God to Thee" and we all
joined in! We obtained a new brake drum; flown in the night to our
area. Franklin spent the night working on the bus, bathed &
seemed ready for a full day of travel. Our Mexican tours weren't
as difficult as this!
Our sons proved to be our greatest asset. Craig obtained his Registered
mechanic's license, so he kept the buses in great working condition, as
well as driving a few tours. Stephen really enjoyed driving and caring
for the passengers. He sang as a driver & was known for his stories!
Monte took a business course, so gradually gave up taking tours &
manned a desk. Our daughter-in-laws were well accepted too - June was
known for her guitar & singing. Diane is a Reg. Nurse so people felt
secure in her friendly presence.
We were so fortunate in having, & still have, the best employees
imaginable! I can't name all of them, but in my time with the business
Marilyn Hall, Donna Folkard, Ron & Hessie Giles, Gena Ostrander,
Vivian McCumber, Marjorie Renard, Dennis Palmer, Walter Ruggles,
Bill Cook, Ted Algar, Peter Brissenden, Emmett O'Connor, Warren
Gendron, Melvin Handley, Larry Bertrand, Dick Bryer, Ernie Belch,
John Edkins & Art Pym to name a few. Percy Grice really helped
our business grow quickly. Our present staff are just as friendly
& dedicated and we are very appreciative to each person helping
our family business through the years.