"I ran Cabin Creek most of the time. I liked it up there. Some drivers wouldn't go up there because it was rough.
"When I quit Charleston Transit, I went into the garage at Greyhound on Pennsylvania Avenue. Those buses kept coming in, and I thought I'd like to drive a bus again. They sent me to a school. I started in 1951.
"I went everywhere -- Pittsburgh, Richmond, Winston-Salem, Beckley, Charlotte, Cleveland.
"In '55, Greyhound went on strike. I was off two months. When I first came back from Ohio, I worked for the C&O Railroad. I was a brakeman from Hinton to Handley. While we were on strike, the railroad called me back to work at Hinton.
"I would decide if I wanted Greyhound or the railroad. We were going to pick up some cars in the middle of the track, and I cut the engine off. We had to go around the curve and come around the middle track. The conductor walked over, and we were walking westbound. I heard this train. That train was coming right down on us. I knocked the conductor over against the station and I got out of the way. That's when I wanted to come back to Greyhound and stay on strike.
"I've had some well-known passengers. Ken Hechler, for one. He was in Washington as a congressional representative. He lived in Huntington and caught me there, and we went clear to Lexington, Va. I had to wait on a connection at Portsmouth, Ohio, and he would ask me if we were going to make it. I would always tell him I didn't know, just kidding him. He would change in Lexington for Washington.
"Dan Maroney, our union president, got me on this thing to haul Kennedy around when he was campaigning in 1960. Kennedy sat right behind me. He didn't say too much. We were both in the Pacific, but we didn't talk about those things.
"One time, he asked me to stop in Kenova. A bunch of ladies were down there waving when we were on the way to the airport. I let him off, and he shook hands with them.
"At the airport, he told them to show me the airplane. They'd named it Caroline. I got on and took a good look, because I was a pilot, too, at one time.
"At Mount Hope, when we were going to Beckley, I parked the bus while they were speeching and all. Here comes this guy who said, 'Pete, what have you got in this bus? I've been chasing you from Charleston, and I couldn't catch you.' Bob Consodine, the reporter, was supposed to be on the bus, but he missed it. So he had taken a cab. The bus was loaded with reporters.
"After I took him to Mount Hope, they wanted to go to a mine. So I took them. I was waiting in the bus. I saw a miner standing at the entrance of the mine. I got off and went to talk to him, and here came Kennedy himself, nobody else, and he came over and talked to that miner.
"We were at Institute at the college and one of Kennedy's people asked if I could get them to the TV station as quick as a car. I said I was pretty sure I could. So they all loaded on. I did not know there was but one TV station in Charleston. I took him to WCHS on Virginia Street. They all got off then came back with their heads all hung down and told me I had the wrong station. I went on over then to WSAZ.
"On the second day, I took him to Hamlin, then to the glass plant at Milton. I parked at that big airplane they have in Milton and waited on Teddy. He brought something to Jack.
"I worked for Greyhound almost 36 years. I always treated that bus like my mother was sitting on it. I retired in '87. I couldn't stay at home. The Eye and Ear Clinic asked me to pick up passengers for them, so I did that about nine years.
"These girls would give me the most awful directions. They would say to go down a certain road to a pine tree then go to a sycamore tree and turn right. I found hills and roads I didn't know were in West Virginia.
"On Feb. 16, 1998, the WVU airplane went down near Walton and killed both pilots. One of them was my son, Leo II. He'd been with WVU 13 years. He was 33. I was just a tree-jumper pilot compared to him.
"We have a daughter, Sandy Rucker, a teacher at Poca Middle School.
"We moved out here in Poca, and I'm not used to it. We lived in Cross Lanes 42 years.
"I'm kind of glad I got to be this old. Sometimes I wish I had gone to Canada instead of the Navy. People who went to Canada made good money. I went to the Navy and made $21 a month. And now my government won't take care of me. Once in a while, I get some medicine from the VA, but that's all."
Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.