English 9, Lesson 20 – The Most Memorable Stories From A Bus of My Own by Jim Lehrer

For the past four weeks I have been reading Jim Lehrer’s autobiography A Bus of My Own.  In this essay I am going to talk about the two stories from the book that I consider memorable.

The Pinball Machine

If you have read this book, I am sure you read the caption and immediately know what the story is. 

I do not remember the exact of Lehrer at the time of this story, but for arguments sake, let’s say he was under ten years old.  Lehrer’s father had a meeting with a friend and gave Lehrer some money to play with the pinball machine.  Lehrer had never beaten this certain machine before and expected to lose like he always did.  He had felt the urge to go to the bathroom and figured he would play a round, lose, and then go to the bathroom.

Turns out, he won the first round, and the second, and the third, and fourth and every other turn after that.  The more games he won the more he needed to use the bathroom, but he did not want to leave the game, especially since he finally beat it.  Finally, Lehrer could not hold it in anymore and, in crude terms, peed his pants.  Only then did he leave the game to run to the bathroom to hide from the embarrassment.

The Loss of Betsy’s Brakes

When Lehrer was a child his parents owned a bus company known as the Kansas Central Lines.  Business was not very good, which eventually forced Lehrer’s parents to go bankrupt, but this story is from before then. 

Business was not good meaning the bus line did not have much money, meaning the Lehrer’s were not able to get new buses and experienced frequent maintenance problems.  One of the buses, known as Betsy, had a problem with its brakes. 

One day, when Lehrer was only 12 years old, he was helping the driver, Cameron, by being his “assistant driver.”  Halfway through the ride Betsy’s brakes gave out and became completely unusable.  Somehow, Cameron managed to control a brakeless bus through traffic and delivered all of the passengers to their final destination unharmed.

Lehrer and Cameron had not told the passengers about the ‘small’ problem with the brakes so they would not be scared.  It was a good plan, until Lehrer yelled that the brakes were out as soon as he saw his parents.  The passengers heard, and it is safe to say they went ballistic.  Some were angry while others were grateful that Cameron managed to not crash the bus. 

Fred, Lehrer’s brother, gave him the nickname “Mr. Big Mouth”, which stuck for a very long time.


In all honesty, I am not sure why these two stories are the ones that I find memorable.  Maybe because they were the first two stories in the book or maybe it is because I am around the age Lehrer was when these things happened.  Or maybe I just find the stories comical and it stuck in my brain.  Either way, these are the two, very entertaining stories, I find memorable from A Bus of My Own.

Thanks for reading!

Author: sophiaelahirpc

Part-time 9th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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