No School Bus In Heaven – 50 years on

Floyd County KY schoolbus accident (1958) where 27 died - AP file photo“On Route 23 down in eastern Kentucky…”

So begins the mournful song written by Jack Adkins and Buddy Dee, and recorded by the Stanley Brothers in February 1958 at Radio WCYB in Bristol, VA. No School Bus In Heaven was the last official studio recording that Carter and Ralph would make for the Mercury label.

It relates the tragic story of a tragedy which took place 50 years ago in Floyd County, Kentucky, wherein 26 children and the driver of the bus in which they were traveling lost their lives when the bus plunged into the Big Sandy River

“These little school children have gone on to glory,” but they left behind heart-broken parents, families and friends. The children and the bereaved are remembered in a gut-wrenching article in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Survivors and those who lost loved ones rarely mention what happened in 1958. They spend most days at home, passing one another at the post office or the grocery store. They sit together in church, bonded by their silent grief and heavy hearts.

But it is a story the whole town knows well. Pictures of those who drowned still hang in local restaurants, schoolhouses and funeral homes.

“People don’t talk about it much. It’s too painful to talk about,” said Orville Ousley, 85, who lost one of his three sons in the accident. “When the anniversary comes each year, we avoid each other and we hide in our homes.”

Read the full piece from the Herald-Leader online.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.