There was no more miserable SOB alive than Hubie Hendrie.
Arm full of books, step up on the school bus, ‘Hi, Hubie!’
‘Sit down and shut up!’
I can’t remember anything else out of Hubie’s mouth. Never a hello. Never How ya doing.
Kids fooling around on the bus? Hubie would grab the offenders by the ear and relocate them (such things could be done in the nineteen fifties).
One day, as I left the bus and entered my house, I spotted my dad.
‘Gee, Dad, my bus driver is the meanest man in the world.’
Dad stops shucking corn and looks at me…’Hubie’s famous, you know.’
I gave my father a puzzled look.
‘Hubie is the lead singer on the Mitch Miller show.’
For those who remember, the Mitch Miller show was a very popular evening weekly program that featured the bubbly Mitch Miller and his large group of wonderfully talented male singers. It was a late fifties, early sixties ratings hit. Everyone in America loved to ‘Sing along with Mitch’.
Could not wait for that week’s running of the show on TV. Put in a bid for the sole black and white TV, and sat close to the screen so that I could spot my evil bus driver.
Didn’t have to sit close. Hubie was front and center, directly behind the arm pumping Mitch Miller.
As miserable as Hubie was as a bus driver, he was wonderfully joyful and ebullient as a Mitch Miller singer.
Big smile. Head snapping smartly to the tunes. Never saw a happier man.
Hubie not only sang in the group, he also often performed solos.
Hubie checked his happiness at the door as he left the New York City studio.
‘Hey, Hubie! I saw you on Sing Along with Mitch last night!’
‘Sit down and shut up.’
Dad told me not to be too concerned. Hubie was miserable with adults, too.
But I had the full Hubie experience. Hubie’s wife was my music teacher. So matronly, with glasses on a string hanging over a large bosom. She belonged on a British comedy show.
Unlike Hubie, she was a bit nice. Never told me to sit down and shut up. Not getting beaten sometimes improves morale. It is because of her that I still hum Frere Jacques and Camptown Races at 3am while binge watching CNN.
(Never said my life was normal).
I only remember one other bus driver, Mr. Matthews, my kindergarten bus driver. For some reason, I was always amazed at how he worked the clutch.
Mr. Matthews never told me to sit down and shut up.
But Mr. Matthews didn’t appear on my TV screen every week.
So I give Hubie the edge as top bus driver, even with the nasty abuse.
Can’t believe I just said that.