PROSPECT – April Fool’s Day is usually filled with jokes and pranks. But not this year at the Prospect bus terminal. On April 1st, 2021, Carol Howson retired, and it was not an April Fool’s prank.
Typically, we would host a retirement party but due to Covid restrictions, guests were allowed in small numbers to see Carol and wish her well. Carol received many cards of gratitude, quite a few current and former employee visits including school and town officials, a book of memories from fellow managers, and a video compiled from some of her fellow co-workers.
Carol, who has been the manager in Prospect for over 30 years, decided to retire a few months ago after some reflection when schools were closed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She realized what kind of life she had without having the alarm clock going off at the crack of dawn or having her phone ringing at all hours of the day and night.
Carol has not only been a manager in Prospect for over 30 years, she built a 45-year career in the school bus industry. She started driving a bus for the Dufour family back in 1976. After 4 years of driving, she had the opportunity to join the management ranks as the Naugatuck Manager for Dufour Brothers.
Over the years she has run busses for various towns such as Waterbury, Naugatuck, New Haven, Prospect, and Beacon Falls. She has also worked for many companies over the years to include Dufour Brothers, Ryder Transportation, D&L Transportation, Dufour Transportation, Laidlaw Transportation, and All-Star Transportation. But working for the Dufour family has always been the most important to her. “The Dufour family companies have always been the best to work for. They have always treated me well over the years. They trusted me to run my terminal as if it was my company and that is what I did. They have always been family to me”.
Carol has had many shining moments in her 45-year career. One of them having her daughter Kelly drive a bus for her in the Prospect lot back in the mid 1990’s. This also gave Carol the opportunity to see some of her grandchildren on a regular basis when they would ride the bus with Kelly. When asked what else really stood out over the years? She said, “Today! Having all of these people come to see me on my last day, to wish me well tells me what kind of impact I had on others.”
Having so many years in the business she was able to reflect on some of the toughest situations she has had to deal with over the years. “Having the fuel delivery guy get sprayed with gasoline and running towards the office was a difficult situation. You don’t plan for those things and you have to just react quickly”. She also mentioned how difficult this past school year has been and dealing with Covid. Just the weekend before her retirement, she was tasked to deal with some Covid issues with students and with staff members. She also mentioned that this year was so difficult because of the shortage of drivers. But Carol being the person that she is, always found a way to get it done.
She mentioned some of the things she is not going to miss such as cleaning and moving busses after a snowstorm. The hours of preparation to move the vehicle before a storm, clean off some, move vehicles, clean the rest, and then move all the vehicles again has been quite a large task in Prospect. “I am not going to miss it at all”.
When asked what she will miss the most about being the manager at the Prospect Terminal. “The people” she said. “I have been blessed to have the best set of drivers, monitors and staff – how they have stayed loyal, always acted and performed in a professional manner, and having a great work ethic. You cannot ask for anything more as a manager”.