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What is a skoolie? It's a school bus converted over to a camper. My family had two buses when I was growing up. One or the other would sit in our driveway when it wasn't in use. During the summer we would sleep in the bus just because it was a cool thing to do.

If we didn't travel somewhere in the bus we went camping it. This bus ended up being in a tornado (July 1968) while we were camping at West Branch State Park. The bus wasn't damaged.  I remember the folks next to us were tent camping. They weren't hurt but it was a hell of a night in that tent.

Skoolie One of our skoolies! Year: 1967

I am currently looking for photos of the inside of either of the buses.  I haven't found any photos within the vast amount of slides my father took when we were growing up! I do have slides of places we had visited with the bus and will be posting them eventually. I do know there are 8mm files of the bus which will be harder to convert to digital format than the slides were.

Me with the Bus 1968 Me with the bus 1968

The bus would sleep 8. (Both were 60 passenger school buses.) There were 2 sets of bunk beds in the back and a couch/sleeper in the front. In between was a frig and stove that ran on natural gas. It also had a little floor heater in the middle of the floor. Note the gas tanks on the back. We could place about 3 bicycles on the back bumper with the gas tanks.

We even had a portable potty that could be set up and used if necessary. The thing had plastic bags that could be disposed of after use. I'm not sure which was worse: using it or the gas stations along the way!

Ohio state law did not require us to paint the bus. Other states did require it though so in our travels we did have some inquiries about the color.

It wasn't the fastest form of travel. If it got to 50 mph we thought we were flying. I don't remember the gas mileage on it but this would have been the era of 20-30 cents per gallon.

Over the years both of my brothers and I were good at breaking into the bus.  All you would have to do was reach in (the door had some slack), grab the rod and press inward with your other hand on the outside of the door. The door would pop right open. This technique could be a bit hard on the forearm though.

We traveled a lot of the United States in it - from New England to South Dakota. I remember in particular the trip to Expo '67 in it. We kept running into the same set of hitchhikers along the way. Dad kept picking them up. The hitchhikers ended up going to the Expo as we were.

We did break down in Oswego, Iowa. I don't remember much about the town though we spent a week there while dad rebuilt the engine in the bus. You did have to ask the pharmacist to shut down the drug store if you wanted to see a movie at the theater. (He owned both establishments.)  There were lots and lots of corn fields.

Trips we took in the bus:

Location Photographs Outside Links
Expo '67 Expo '67 Expo '67 | Flickr Site | CBC Site
West West 1966 Wall Drug Store | Mount Rushmore | Badlands
South Forthcoming Grandfather Mountain
Michigan Forthcoming Mackinac Island
New England Forthcoming  

Skoolie Sites: | Wikipedia

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