The Yellow Dog

Thinking back to our school days, most of us have at least a few memories that involve a school bus. Even if you had the good fortune to live close enough to school to walk, or could get a ride from Mom or Dad, school buses were a big part of the whole school experience. It’s how you got to those out-of-town football games, field trips and band competitions. It was a place where friendships were made, a few paper airplanes were thrown, and those not getting a coveted window seat learned just how long they could go without a breeze in the Florida heat. It turns out that school buses themselves have an interesting history here in Florida, one that reaches back even farther than the age of the automobile.

An early school bus drawn by two horses in Piedmont in Orange County (ca. 1900).

An early school bus drawn by two horses in Piedmont in Orange County (ca. 1900).

Florida’s first school buses were drawn by horses or mules rather than the growling diesel engines we’re familiar with today. Duval County is often credited with establishing the first horse-drawn school bus system in 1898, but it’s safe to say other counties likely had similar arrangements–or at least some of the local schools did. Teachers sometimes did double duty and drove the bus, picking up their charges every morning and then dropping them off in the afternoon on the way home. In at least a few cases, older students did the driving!

Horse-drawn school bus in Jacksonville (1898).

Horse-drawn school bus in Jacksonville (1898).

Once automobiles came onto the scene, it was only a matter of time before schools began using them to transport students. The first engine-powered school buses didn’t come from the factory looking like a school bus, however–they were converted from cars. In the earliest days of the automobile, a car body could be easily removed and replaced with whatever the owner needed–a flat bed, a series of benches for seating a crowd, or even an enclosed space for camping. So, when a local school district decided they wanted a bus, someone would remove the factory body from a Model T or similar car and add on a bus body. As school buses became more popular, companies started selling ready-made bus bodies, complete with special lights, door locks and a paint job. The Smith-Neil-Rivers Body Corporation in Jacksonville was one such company, but interestingly their standard color options didn’t include yellow–the choices were green or orange!

A wooden-bodied school bus on Okeechobee Road in Fort Pierce (1925).

A wooden-bodied school bus on Okeechobee Road in Fort Pierce (1925).

Inspection certificate for a Chevrolet Six truck modified to serve as a school bus in Jefferson County (1934). Click or tap the image to see a larger version.

Inspection certificate for a Chevrolet Six truck modified to serve as a school bus in Jefferson County (1934). Box 1, Folder 13, Jefferson County School Board Records (Series L46), State Archives of Florida. Click or tap the image to see a larger version.

As more people bought cars and speed limits began to creep up, the safety of these early wooden-body school buses came into question. In the 1930s, state education authorities began to get more involved in regulating school transportation programs by requiring inspections and setting qualifications for bus drivers. In 1934, the State Board of Education adopted a recommendation from State Safety Director Asher Frank requiring that all school buses be painted orange with SCHOOL BUS in black lettering. That same year, the board decreed that by June 1, 1935 all school buses in the state would have all-steel bodies. In 1938, the state began requiring buses to have that familiar extendable STOP sign on the left side. A Jacksonville company made 1,102 of them for $3,028 and distributed them to the counties.

Clay County bus in Green Cove Springs (ca. 1965).

Clay County bus in Green Cove Springs (ca. 1965).

Certificate of physical fitness for Jefferson County bus driver Mrs. Pearl Walker Williams (1948). Click or tap the image to view a larger version.

Certificate of physical fitness for Jefferson County bus driver Mrs. Pearl Walker Williams (1948). Box 1, Folder 13, Jefferson County School Board Records (Series L46), State Archives of Florida. Click or tap the image to view a larger version.

Although school bus body styles have gotten a few updates over the years, not to mention air-conditioning, the general concept remains the same. Over time the orange color prescribed by the state morphed into the bright yellow we know today. On a couple of occasions in the 1950s, bills emerged in the Legislature calling for school buses to be painted red, white and blue, both as a nod to patriotism and as a safety measure. Yellow won the day each time, however, and as a consequence the buses have earned the nickname “yellow dog” rather than…  well…  whatever you would nickname a red, white and blue bus.

What’s your favorite school bus memory? Share this blog on social media and include the most interesting place you remember traveling on one of Florida’s good old “yellow dogs.”

 

 

 

Photo Mystery Monday: January 4, 2016

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Photo Mystery Monday of 2016! Let’s travel back in time a little…

What is going on in this picture? Do you have a guess as to what year it might be? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see?

Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!


UPDATE: Edward F. Andrews in a glider towed by an automobile at Daytona Beach in 1911

This photo shows Edward F. Andrews in a glider towed by an automobile at Daytona Beach in 1911.

Mr. Andrews had this comment about his experience:

“I have found this to be dangerous. A machine, which if free would be perfectly safe, is made as erratic as a child’s kite by the attachment of a rope. I, for one, shall seek other means of getting into the air.”


Photo Mystery Monday


Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? Do you have a guess as to what year it might be? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see?

Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information.

For Teachers

  • Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives
  • Standards: SS.4.A.1.1, LAFS.68.RH.1.2, LAFS.68.RH.1.1, LAFS.910.RH.1.1, LAFS.910.RH.1.2, LAFS.1112.RH.1.1, LAFS.1112.RH.1.2, LAFS.1112.RH.3.9, SS.912.W.1.3, SS.912.A.1.2

UPDATE: JAWS II!

Much of Jaws II was filmed at Navarre Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin, Florida in 1977.


 

Photo Mystery Monday: November 16, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.


Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? Do you have a guess as to what year it might be? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see?

Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


UPDATE: Auto-to-airplane transfer stunt at Daytona Beach

This photograph was taken on December 1, 1921 at Daytona Beach.

The Mabel Cody Flying Circus featured night-flying, wing-walking, auto-to-airplane transfers, single- and double-parachute drops, and acrobatic loop-to-loops. Mabel Cody (who was not officially a pilot) was hired by fairs and promoters like George E. Merrick to attract crowds and potential land and home buyers.

Mabel Cody is flying above Sig Haugdahl in his Frontenac automobile. Stuntman Louis “Bugs” McGowan is transferring from the car to the plane.

Louie “Bugs” McGowan, Sig Haugdahl and Mabel Cody

Photo Mystery Monday: November 9, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.


What people, objects and activities do you notice? What year do you think this is? Let us know in the comments! Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight. What can these details tell you about life in Florida at the time the photo was taken?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see? Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

 

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


UPDATE: Florida in WWII

As many have observed, this photograph is of African American soldiers, circa 1943, at Camp Gordon Johnston during World War II. These soldiers are shown outside of their barracks. As Kim Atkins noted in the comments below, this photograph shows the soldiers relaxing. Notice the smile on the central standing soldier’s face and the man coming through his legs with an even bigger smile on his face!

On the duck sign, the number “816” indicates the unit number. As an amphibious track company, Unit 816 would be training for beach arrival on an enemy shore. Beaches and marshes provided the perfect classroom for preparing soldiers to engage in amphibious warfare.

For more information on Florida in WWII, check out our new online exhibit here.


 

Photo Mystery Monday: November 2, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.


What people, objects and activities do you notice? What year do you think this is? Let us know in the comments! Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight. What can these details tell you about life in Florida at the time the photo was taken?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see? Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

 

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


UPDATE: No-Shave November!

Just in time for Movember, this photo from 1959 shows a man without a beard being “punished” for fun due to his lack of facial hair. As Nancy Holaday noted, some of the men are smiling, including the beardless man.

Claude Kenneson observed that the men were wearing buttons, and Betty Dees on Facebook noticed a George Clooney look alike on the left.


 

Photo Mystery Monday: October 26, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.

What people, objects and activities do you notice? What year do you think this is? Let us know in the comments! Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight. What can these details tell you about life in Florida at the time the photo was taken?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see? Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

 

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


UPDATE: Pig on the beach!

This photo shows the crowds enjoying the outdoors at the beach in Seabreeze, Daytona in 1904. Many are watching a pig in the surf in the far-off distance at the right.

Some people seem to be dressed for swimming. Others are wearing ties and fancy hats. Among the horse-drawn carriages there is at least one automobile. 1903 was the first year of the Ormond-Daytona Beach Race. In 1903 and 1904, several world speed records were set.


 

Photo Mystery Monday: October 19, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.

Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? What clues do you see? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice? Let us know in the comments! Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight.

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see? Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

 

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


UPDATE:

This photo shows a safe being delivered to the Polk County Bank in Bartow by means of an ox team pulling a flatcar over temporarily laid railroad tracks.

Reader Patsy Glasscock noticed details such as the prevalence of men wearing hats, the difference between the men in more casual clothes compared to those in business attire, the lack of women in the photo and the presence of a child.

Several readers mentioned the gap in the rails on the dirt street, indicating that the track was temporary. Jon Hoppensteadt observed that no one in the photo was armed, indicating that the safe was probably empty.

We had originally had this photo dated some time in the 1800s. As Jo Reimer noted, the Polk County bank was organized in 1886. Thanks to diligent research by blog readers, and with confirmation from our Archives Historian, we’ve updated the catalog record.

Thanks all, and join us next Monday for a new photo!


Photo Mystery Monday: October 12, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.


Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? Do you have a guess as to what year it might be? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice? Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see?

Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo on Florida Memory as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


 UPDATE: This photo shows actress Ann Blyth swimming in the underwater set during filming of Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid at Weeki Wachee in 1948.

Astute blog reader Susan noticed the contrast between the squeaky clean set and the natural background. Here’s a view of the set before it was lowered into the water.

And we had a real mermaid join us in the comments!

Thanks everybody!


 

Picture Florida: October 2, 1947

This photograph was taken on October 2, 1947. What can this picture tell you?

Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? What clues do you see? Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight.

What people, objects and activities do you notice?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see?

Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Monday when we will update the post with more identifying information.

 

For Teachers

  • Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives
  • Standards: SS.4.A.1.1, LAFS.68.RH.1.2, LAFS.68.RH.1.1, LAFS.910.RH.1.1, LAFS.910.RH.1.2, LAFS.1112.RH.1.1, LAFS.1112.RH.1.2, LAFS.1112.RH.3.9, SS.912.W.1.3, SS.912.A.1.2

UPDATE: It’s Fuller’s Earth!

Fuller’s earth was mined by the Floridin Company in Quincy, Florida. Fuller’s earth has been used in the movies to make pyrotechnic explosions look more spectacular as the fine particles linger in the air and reflect light. It also has uses for filtration, as an absorbent and as a cleaning agent.