I am told, that as an Only Child, I was supposed to have an imaginary friend growing up. A very real companion nonetheless a figment of my imagination. A Childhood Harvey, as it were.
Truth is, I didn’t. A very imaginative child I was indeed, but I did know the difference between reality and imagination and I did not have an imaginary friend. (I actually tried for awhile, but it just wasn’t interesting to hang around with someone who wasn’t there.) The closest I think I came to having an imaginary friend was Benny the Bus. Benny was my Mom’s name for the bus, a general nickname applied to any bus that we were waiting for or that went by.
In Green Bay, when I was a little kid, they had these old GM buses that from the front actually looked like a face. The windshield was split down the middle like two eyes and there was a grill below that like a mouth, and there was a metal shade detail above the windows that looked like eyebrows or bangs. I spent a lot of time as a kid waiting for Benny and riding Benny wherever I had to get to. When I was in junior high, the city bought new buses. They were going to buy more GM buses, but that didn’t work out for some reason, so they bought these Neoplan buses from somewhere in Europe. The new buses didn’t have a face, but they also didn’t always work that well so sometimes you got the old GM bus instead of the new bus.
Over time, there were more new buses, but they kept running the old GM buses, too. A few years ago I actually saw one of those old buses still on the road in Green Bay. Didn’t see one last time I was there, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were still a few that made it onto the road every once in a while. Of course, Benny’s finest hour came in 1997.
The buses now don’t have a face. They don’t come from GM either. Apparently, I am heartened to discover, that there are some companies still making city buses here in the United States, Los Angeles uses some of them. I wonder if any of them are made in Michigan?
When I see the pictures of Detroit today, the crumbling wreck that used to be one of our most beautiful cities—of course, there is a dwindling group who remember that Detroit, you’d have to be at least sixty to remember Detroit before Middle Class Flight and before the Riots—I sometimes dream that buried in the rubble of one of those old buildings, under broken glass and fallen bricks, there is a little seed. There is a little egg, and inside it sleeps a little tiny bus, a little Baby Benny, waiting to burst out of his shell, burst out from under the debris and remains of a dead industry and roll down the street.
I know enough about Washington that no one there wants to hear a story about some sad, aging single girl who sick of waiting on buses that don’t show up and claims she’s late for stuff because her bus was running late and had to stand the whole way because the bus was crowded because it was so late. So, don’t worry about me. Here’s a story from Washington: there’s a little girl who misses her friend, Benny. He’s been gone for a long time, and she wants him to come back. Oh, please, Mr., can’t someone find my friend? Can’t someone bring him back? I know he misses all of us.
Leave no stone unturned . . . .