Crittenden retires as 40-year Peavine school bus driver
PEAVINE – After 40 years at Peavine School, Cherokee Nation citizen Paul Crittenden has retired as a school bus driver. His retirement comes slightly earlier than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crittenden started in 1980 at age 29, driving an old leaky bus.
“I was a new driver so they gave me an old bus,” he said. “It leaked about everything it could leak. It had a good motor in it and a good transmission, but I was going to the mechanic shop that we used probably twice a month. So I drove for about five years. Then they got me a new bus. Boy, me and the kids we were all happy.”
After breaking in four buses over the course of four decades, he decided it was time to retire.
“I enjoyed all of it. It was 40 years, but it don’t seem like it was that long,” Crittenden said. “I was 29. I had dark hair and dark whiskers. My route was not exactly the same all of those years, but part of it was. I’d get two or three miles added in one direction or the other.”
He said he drove down some rough roads, in snow and floods, to ball games, and went as far as Oklahoma City for fields trips before GPS was available.
“We went on a lot of field trips, plus my morning and evening routes,” Crittenden said. “I used to take them to ball games and then I’d take them home after the ball games. Sometimes I’d get home, it may be 11 or 11:30 before I’d be in bed. But the thing about that, all those years, no accidents and I give God all the credit. He just took care of me and every kid that rode whatever bus I was driving.”
Working for four decades in one place, Crittenden said he will miss the students the most.
“I’ve seen many, many people come and go at Peavine School all the way from superintendents to the janitors, everybody in between. I got along with everybody,” he said. “Peavine School was good to me and I like to think that I was good for Peavine School.”
He said one of his favorite memories was working with his son Shawn for a time. “Probably my favorite time in all those 40 years, Shawn, my son, worked there while I was driving. So we were working at the same school, seeing each other every day. We would sometimes take the buses to town and fuel the buses up.”
Not only did Crittenden work at Peavine but also attended the school when it was two school districts.
“I went to a school called East Peavine for three years then they closed it, enrollment got too little,” he said. “Then we moved to what was called West Peavine, back then. Now we just call it Peavine. I spent three years at East Peavine and five years at West Peavine. So I’ve made many tracks around there, but I never imagined working for Peavine School.”
Crittenden said though he is retired, he’s not ready for the “rocking chair.” He plans to work in some capacity whether it’s helping people, finding another driving job, or going back to Peavine if given the opportunity.
“I’ve got a man wanting me to help him on a house,” he said. “I’m going to work not so much in the public, but when it gets better I may go down to Stilwell and apply for a job driving the old KATS van or something. I’m not just going to sit in my rocking chair and go back and forth. I’m not ready for that. When things get better, I’m going to try and pitch a lot of horseshoes for sure and see my buddies.”