Ode to school car lines
By Suzanne Hunt Shuffitt

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Suzanne is a self-employed horticulturist in the Ocala, Fla. area. A 1979 graduate of Russellville High School and a 1984 graduate of WKU, she appears on radio and in print often with her gardening features. She is the daughter of Russellville barber Pete Hunt and of the late Sue Hunt. The following reprint is courtesy of Ocala Magazine, where it appeared last week

1967. Way back then in Russellville, it wasn’t really car line. Mama used to park on the side street under a huge deciduous tree. The bell would ring and we’d all run out of school like a herd of cattle in a
Sometimes, I’d get to the four-door white Buick first. Mrs. Huffines might be in the front seat visiting with Mama. If she had her good clothes on we’d go to the library, grocery or relative visiting.
On the way home, we usually stopped at Sterling’s Market. Mama’d give us each 25 cents. I’d always picked a frozen banana Popsicle. I’d stretch way over the side of the freezer ‘til my feet left the floor. I figured one or all of my three older brothers would grab my dangling feet, flip me in there, close the sliding doors and leave me ‘til the next day.
1999. Those first days of car line for the rookie mamas in Florida are the most nerve-racking, frustrating and dysfunctionally educational! Electric megaphones screaming out names, your child’s name obediently posted in the vehicle window, slowly creeping to the correct orange cone, the crossing guard (who you had better heed or she would give you the tongue lashing of your life) and motorcycle cops with the radar guns. If that isn’t enough confusion, throw in a Florida August downpour right when the bell rings.
Ten years later, many of my girls’ school years have come and gone. I now take pleasure in my car line time. I have found these to be the most productive and relaxing 20 minutes of my day.
Sometimes I visit with another mama or return business calls and organize my next day.
If I arrive early, I park in the shade of the Live Oak, stick my bare feet out the window and dive into the pages of my recent Southern novel. It’s not a real good idea to try to read while the line is moving. Those habitually anxious picker-uppers get a little testy if you’re not riding the next bumper. And, heaven forbid, if you should have a generous moment and let someone in line in front of you.
The reward is still the same. I pick up my precious cargo. She wants to stop and get a snack. (Twenty-five cents ain’t enough!) We share the happenings of the day just like I did with my mama.
At the end of the day when it’s all said and done, I’ll weather the storms, humor the impatient souls and sometimes rush to be the last car through the gate for as long as I am able because the reward of car line is much greater than the sacrifices.

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