Farmer and part-time bus driver Russell Bishop started the day by milking the cows and warming up his school bus. After her breakfast, his daughter Mary Lou joined him on the bus. On cold mornings a neighbor brought Mary Lou a heated brick wrapped in newspaper, to warm her hands. The bus took an hour to reach the Martinsburg School, unless the harsh Indiana winter slowed the ride. Twelve classmates rode the 10 miles with Mary Lou and her dad.
Lunch pails in a rural school, Wisconsin, 1939
Waiting for the bus, Nebraska, 1938
Most kids had few belongings to entertain themselves with on the bus and at recess. Marbles and jump ropes were popular at the time and they could be played in groups or alone. Both were inexpensive, but highly prized by the children who owned them.
When students attended schools that were far enough away to require a bus ride, lunch at home was no longer possible. Children might have used lunch boxes such as this one, or simple tin pails from home, filled with homemade biscuits or egg sandwiches and sometimes cookies.