by Beth Gay
Each year on the first Saturday in April, some very special drivers make their way to Lake City, Florida. If you are a passenger in any of their vehicles, you can nap and rest easy along the way, for these are among the safest drivers on Earth. They are active and retired bus drivers going to The Trailways Retirees Club Reunion.
In 2005, about forty drivers, bus company employees and wives and friends attended. Martin Lavin of Davy, Florida, the president of the group said, “Giving an estimate, I’d say there were about 45 million miles of safe driving represented in that room last weekend!”
L.H. “Pat” Patterson of Jacksonville, Florida, drove from April 1953 until June 1987. While driving Trailways buses, he logged two million five hundred thousand safe driving miles – by himself!
Drivers logging a million miles or more during their careers include Milton Alcorn, Keith Skiles and Allen Shiflett, all now of Tallahassee, Florida; Bill Spear of Dawson, Georgia; John Hightower of Bonifay, Florida; and Jim Corn of Jacksonville, Florida.
Acknowledged as the person with the most knowledge of the history of the Trailways Bus Company is Jon Hobijin of Orlando, Florida. Hobijin says, “The story of Tamiami Trailways starts not with buses, nor with potential passengers, but in land development in Florida and centers around Barron G. Collier. Later, as the bus line [took]form, it became the story of three companies until the mid-1970s when it was eventually sold.” For a detailed history of the company, visit Jon’s Trailways History Corner at http://cw42.tripod.com/Jon-4.html.
Trailways has been in existence for almost 70 years. Today it’s a regionally based ground transportation system comprised of privately owned and operated companies (franchises). Primarily serving passengers up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and in the Southeast and Midwest, Trailways offers locally based scheduled services west of the Mississippi in Texas, Montana, California, Washington, Oregon and in British Columbia, Canada.
The Trailways Retirees Club began in 1976 with meetings held in homes at first, then, as the membership grew, in hotels and motels in Tallahassee, Tampa and other cities – changing locations each year.
There are about 100 members of the group. Marty Lavin, who drove for 20 years and has 1,300,000 safe miles in his own logbooks, is president.
Otis Sanders, Tallahassee, Florida, is vice president, and Keith Cruce, Cullman, Alabama, secretary. Cruce was a ticket agent for about ten years, then served as a dispatcher for the remainder of his career. Barbara Lavin, Davy, Florida, is treasurer.
All bus drivers and bus company employees, active or retired, are welcome to join. Contact Marty or Barbara Lavin for information, 954-452-1131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbara Lavin said, “As far as we know, there is no other active retirees club for bus employees.” In addition to the annual reunion, regional members meet monthly at breakfast. Members keep loosely in touch via email.
About the author
Beth Gay is the editor of The Family Tree, now the online publication of The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library in Moultrie, Georgia (www.electricscotland.com and then click on Beth’s Family Tree). She contributes columns to several Georgia and Florida newspapers. She is Cow Milking Champion of Ocala, Florida, and Elephant Racing Champion of Marion County, Florida.