Aberdeen School Bus Driver
Dennis Yancey: Ferd Dalke was a bus driver for the Aberdeen schools for nearly 20 years. He retained the same route for nearly all of his bus driving career - a route covering the area North of Aberdeen from the outskirts of town out about 6 miles. Among the kids he picked up and dropped off were me and my siblings. He retired in June of 1979. I always remember him as a very kind man and as a humble person who never attracted attention to himself - although he was surely worthy of praise for the great job he did over the years and the way he treated the kids.
Ferd's 90th Birthday
A newspaper article concerning him and his career below.
Article and picture courtesy of Ferd Dalke and Carl & Ann Hege
Kids Like "Good Old Man" as Bus
Aberdeen Times - 6 Feb 1980
"Ferd, you are a good old man, we like you for a bus driver", the little girl smiled as she spoke, then jumped down off the bus at the end of another school day.
Comments like this have brightened many a day for the school bus driver, Ferd Dalke, over the past 18 years.
Although he still helps out when the school district needs an extra driver, Ferd officially retired on June 2 1979. Through the entire 18 years of service he drove the same bus route, north of twon and enjoyed every minute of it.
Ferd was born in Oklahoma, but his parents moved to Idaho shortly after. In 1920 the Dalke family settled in Aberdeen where Fred attended school.
In the spring of 1930 he went to work for the Kraft Cheese Co at their factory in Aberdeen, remaining with them for nine years.
Ferd met Helen Brucks in 1932 and began the courtship that ended in marriage for the couple on June 15 1934. Helen lived with her family on a ranch way out in south Pleasant Valley. This was quite a distance from the little twon of Aberdeen at the time. There was nothing but desert west of town and no roads to follow.
Ferd would take off through the sagebrush, dodging rocks, headed for the Brucks farm and his date with Helen on Saturday night.
Folks didnt have much money during those depression years, so the couple's wedding was a simple one, followed by a big chicken dinner for relatives, friends and neighbors, prepared by Mrs. Brucks.
Ferd and Helen lived in Aberdeen and he continued working at the cheese factory until March 1939 when he decided to become a farmer. With the sum of $1,089 borrowed form the FHA the Dalke's leased a farm in the Grandview area, bought some horses and machinery and went to farming.
It was rough going in those early days following the depression, but with lots of hard work and cooperation they managed.
Helen raised a garden, canned and preserved the produce from it. She sewed for her family, and also helped out with the chores, taking care of the chickens, and raising bum lambs given them by neughbors.
They kept cows, and at one time were milking 10 of them by hand. Ferd didnt like to milk cows and he did love sheep, so the cows were sold and a band of sheep took their place. Ferd raised, and enjoyed working with the sheep until his retirement.
In the fall of 1944 the Dalke's purchased the farm north of Aberdeen where they lived until 1974. They sold this place, keeping enough ground to build a new home.
The Dalke's three children - Delon, now living in Yuma Arizona, Karen Dirks, Bpoulder Colorado; and Nancy Clark, Chicago area, grew up and enjoyed the advantages of country living on this farm.
During the winter months Ferd would supplement the family income by sorting spuds at a warehouse in Aberdeen.
In January 1961, Ferd got a chance to drive a school bus. He thought this would beat sorting spuds, so he accepted the job. He really enjoyed those few hours with the children each day, and grew to love them all. Many he watched grow from six year old first graders to young men and women ready to graduate.
Ferd's bus carried the largest load (69 or 70 kids) of all the bueses. With his careful driving he attained a very good record with no accidents in the 18 years he was a driver.
The hardest times were the winters when the snow would drift and pile up several feet high. He remembers one time when school was dismissed early because of a blizzard. He was unable to drive to town for his bus as the roads were closed. Finally the snow plow got his road opened up, then went ahead of the bus, clearing the roiad for the entire route.
They had almost reached the Lewis Johnson farm, when they came upon Edith Herr's car stcuk in the snow. Mrs. Herr was the mail carrier for Sterling and she had been stranded since about eleven oclock that morning. They were able to get her out of the snow and she returned to Sterling.
The snow plow could only pen a one way track and the banks of snow along the road were much higher than the bus. "Thank goodness. there weren't too many such winters", Ferd remarked.
Ferd drove the bus for many activity trips. taking the seniors to tour the I.N.E.L. several times.
The trips he really enjoyed were those taking the Special Education Students on outings. These kids were so well behaved, and appreciative of any little thing done for them. They always liked to sit up front, close to the driver. "It was always a pleasure to take them,'. Ferd said.
"ALL THE KIDS were good. and always well behaved. I never had any trouble with them. I was good to them and they were the same with me. I loved them all,'. commented Ferd.
He never let a holiday go by without goodies for his kids, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and the last day of school, each child received a gift, an orange, or candy, some- times a hand made ceramic article, or puzzles.
Of course the kids didn't forget their bus driver either .
There were always gifts and cards on his birthday and Christmas, get well card~ when he was sick, and many times groups of his kids would come to his house for a surprise birthday party in his honor .
Ferd could easily fill a book of humorous, cute, and sometimes sad incidents in the life of a school bus driver .
He recalls the time a small first grader, who had been learning about President Lincoln, came bounding into the bus all smiles and happy. He stopped. and looked at Ferd for a moment or two, went on back and found a seat. then in a few minutes he was back, looked at Ferd again, and said "say Ferd, who did you vote for, Abe Lincoln or the other guy?"
Then there were the near catastrophes. The bus had just started the homeward journey, when a little third grade boy rushed up front and said "Ferd, I have to go to the bathroom". Ferd told him he was sorry but it was too late now, he would just have to sit down and wait until he got home. He hadn't had time to go after school, he informed Ferd, and didn't know if he could wait that long.
WELL, you guessed it. His was the very last stop on the route. He sat squirming in his seat for a few minutes, then was back up front, "Ferd, I don't think I can wait". "Well, should I stop the bus and let you go out in the barrow pit?" Ferd asked. With a small sigh "no, I'll try to wait." It wasn't long until he was back, "Ferd, I just can't wait any longer," "Okay, we'll see if you can use the bathroom at the next house," Ferd told him.
The school bus waited out in the road while the little fellow went in the house with his "friend". In a short while he was back on the bus, looking much relieved, and happier .
Ferd had nothing but praise for his boss, Mr, John Wonderly, and said the Aberdeen School District is very fortunate to have John as bus supervisor . He has saved the district lots of money in the transportation department. John is a wonderful boss, he is always cheerful, never loses his temper, and is just great to work for, Ferd said.
Ferd will be missed by the school district and especially by 'his kids', as he will miss seeing them every day.
Asked what he will do now to occupy his time, Ferd said he has many interests plus four grandchildren, two boys and two girls, to keep him and his wife busy.
They enjoy traveling, fishing and camping, and Ferd has taken courses in leather tooling and photography, and plans to do more of both.
In the summer he gets out his old John Deere A, the first tractor he ever owned, and works up the soil on the two and one half acres of land around their new home.
Ferd does all the gardening now (with lots of supervision by Helen) and has made their home located on a hill overlooking the Aberdeen valley, a real show place.
The Dalke's have always been active members of the Mennonite Church and are interested in community affairs. Ferd was a charter member of the Boot's and Saddle Riding Club of Aberdeen, which was active for many years and won numerous awards. He has always been interested in Helen's hobby ceramics, and helps in any way he can with this. What started out as a hobby about 25 years ago has turned into a business, with Helen holding classes several times a week. Ladies from all over the Springfield, Aberdeen, and American Falls area come to learn how to make ceramic pots, vases, figurines. etc.
She belongs to the Eastern Idaho Ceramic Association and the Gem State Ceramic Association; both of which hold annual shows for display, selling and competition. Awards are given in the Professional class and the amateur hobbies class, with Helen bringing home several of these. She also loves to sew and has made many beautiful quilts for her family. With all these interests. children and grandchildren, the Dalke's will surely enjoy retirement years.
See a recent Photo of Ferd
Ferd's 90th Birthday