Original writings by Adrienne Nater

The Bus
I want to Buy A Bus

She walked over to the desk, his desk, the President of the Bank of A. Levy.

"May I have a moment of your time, Mr. Mulligan?"

"Certainly. Thatís what Iím here for. What do you need?"

"I need a loan to buy a bus."

"A bus? How much?"

"Yes a bus, itís only $2,300"

"Why do you need a bus?"

"Itís for transportation of The Colonnades Drill team to competitions statewide and Ö"

"This is the group of girls that we are seeing marching up and down the streets in our La Colonia? How many in the group?"

"Yes, we have seventy-five now and it keeps growing. A junior group has been formed with kids as young as five. And eight boys are now forming an honor guard to march with us. One of our fathers, a retired military, is doing the instruction and raising funds to provide uniforms. The Rotary Club is offering flags, itís all so fantastic."

Had it been two years? Two years in the wilderness after a disastrous stent as Vice Principal at the public high school. As soon as the girls from the high school heard she was back they sent emissaries to ask her to help them have something they were denied ― a drill team of their own. Blacks and browns were not even permitted to try-out for the schoolís team. And now thereíre a reality ― the Colonnades, a competitive team; a visible story of success. And I needed a bus to get them out there.

"Customers are so excited about this; the local families love the efforts that these kids are exerting; so proud. Back to our business. Whatís your collateral? I have to have something."

"My 1946 Cessna airplane. Itís all I have. Here are the ownership title papers."

"And the payments?"

"Funds we will collect with paper drives, dances, menudo drives, raffles, contributions, any way we can find. The girls, their parents, the community has been actively supporting the team for the last six months. They put together enough funds for their uniforms, boots, instruments. Even the local businesses have contribution jars in their shops, and the owner of the shoe and boot business got us a special deal on our boots."

"OK, now tell me more about this bus you want to buy?"

"Itís In Los Angeles, thereís the name of the company and address on the contract. Itís been retired from a Catholic school district bus fleet. One of our fathers is a bus driver and mechanic; he verifies that the bus is sound and mechanically in good condition. Heíll take care of it, drive it and whatever else. He has room to park it next to his house. And the best of all, itís been painted blue, our school color. Mr. Arriaga plans on painting Colonnades on the sides in giant letters."

"Sounds good to me. Youíve done your research. Here take these papers, fill them out, Iíll be right back. Oh and just how soon do you need these funds?"

"Now. I left a small deposit check with the company owner so heíll hold it for us. He gave us only three daysÖ"

"Done. Iíll have the check for $2,300 in your hand in a few minutes."

I watch him get up; take the title papers to my airplane. I couldnít believe it, so quick, so simple. For the past year it was getting to parades in as many cars as needed. One of the mothers coordinated the efforts.

I looked up from my writing. Mr. Mulligan had disappeared into another office. This building was certainly unlike the grand edifice of the main office with its vaulted ceiling, marble floor, polished walnut walls. This was a small square structure located in a tiny strip mall, concrete walls, one large window; it was just as modest, plain as its customers. And Mr. Mulligan, this President of the Oxnard Bank of A. Levy devoted part of his time to the little La Colonia Branch.

I didnít know all of this was possible, and to such an extent. It restored faith in myself, in these kids, their faith in themselves, the community pride, I had doubts, but now by just doing the right thing I have a sense of triumph.




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