MONROE – What do you do if you grow up with a bus lot in your backyard? Well, if you’re George Blake you build a 55-year career in the school bus and transportation field.
Blake, the long-time dispatcher for All-Star Transportation at its terminal in Monroe, retired from the school bus business on Tuesday. His co-workers sent him off with a retirement luncheon and a few parting gifts, including a special wristwatch.
“I grew up with a bus yard in my back yard. I’ve been pushing buses for 55 years,” Blake said. “I started when I was 10 and got my driver’s license when I was 18.”
He explained that his father owned and operated a transportation company in Ansonia – Blake Bus Service and Fitzgerald Bus Company. As a 10-year-old, he hopped behind the wheel of a school bus and drove it to a nearby gas station that was selling gasoline for 10 cents a gallon. It was too good a deal to pass up. But as he was going down the road, a police officer pulled him over to ask him what he was doing. When he told the officer he was trying to purchase cheap gas, he was allowed to go on his way.
You name it, and Blake has done it – he’s been a bus driver, bus company owner, dispatcher and more. Over his long career, he’s also put in a lot of miles in Connecticut and beyond.
“I missed the first three days of my senior year in high school because I was bringing buses from Blue Bird back to Connecticut,” he said.
At age 65, he decided to retire because his wife retired in the fall. Blake says he doesn’t have any immediate plans, other than to enjoy his grandchildren and to rest. “My wife is the boss, and she wants to move,” he added, so a relocation to someplace down south may be in the future.
Reflecting on his long career, he said simply, “I’ve done it all.”