February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

10 things you don’t know about me…Leonard Winchester

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?
I don’t have one favorite childhood memory, there were so many experiences. I was brought up on a farm before moving to a small village when I was 15 years old. I loved being around livestock, although cleaning stalls and chicken coops was not one of my favorite jobs, or memory.

I loved riding horses and ponies, swimming in a hole in a local creek bed, lying on the porch roof at night because it was so hot upstairs (no AC back then), delivering papers when we moved to town, except for Sundays when the paper with ads was so large. The reason I liked delivering papers was I got to know everyone in town, and they got to know me.

2. What is your favorite part about driving a bus?
The kids, of course! They keep me young.

3. What is the last book you read?
“Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton. It is about a Special Forces group of soldiers who were sent to Afganistan in late October 2001.

4. What was your favorite class in school?
Recess! No, seriously, I was not a very motivated student, but I did enjoy Industrial Arts, which I took all four years of high school. Because of being raised on a farm, I was attracted to anything that involved working with my hands. I learned enough in that class to be the proverbial “jack of all trades, master of none!”

5. What is your favorite place you have traveled to?
Any place in the USA is great, I’ve been to over half the states. But my favorite place is home.

6. What advice would you give a parent who is sending their child to school for the first time?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. With your child’s bus driver, teachers, and your neighbors who have children who will be riding the same bus.

7. What is your favorite movie?
Again, I don’t have one favorite. Some of my favorites are any movie with John Wayne, The Godfather series, Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes, and all the Star Wars movies.

8. What is your favorite sport?
Hmmm…..Fastpitch softball?! Followed closely by high school football, volleyball, and boys & girls basketball. Actually, almost any high school sports.

9. What was your favorite part of your job as a locomotive engineer? Operating that huge, powerful diesel-electric locomotive, feeling the rumble of the engine as the throttle is advanced is a feeling I miss to this day. When I started on the RR back in the day, the locomotives were not computerized like they are today. It took some skill to start a 150 car train moving from a standstill. One had to feel and listen to the engine rumbling so as not to lose traction with the rails, which would usually result in tearing a train in two or more parts if that happened.

10. What is the most important thing a child should know about riding the bus? Well, according to my daughters, it’s “Get on, Sit down, Shut up and Hang on!”, because that’s what was on a sweatshirt they bought me soon after I started driving school buses! Seriously though, I guess the most important thing they need to know is to follow the driver’s instructions. School bus drivers have many responsibilities, but our main responsibility is getting students to and fro safely, and it helps us if students cooperate.

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