1948: Bus driver saves children in collision

By THERESA BLACKWELL, Times Staff Writer
Published October 28, 2007

INDIAN ROCKS - Following a hair-breadth escape from tragedy, parents of 40 Indian Rocks school children were singing the praises of school bus driver Thomas J. Farrell on Oct. 30, 1948.

A truck struck Farrell's fully loaded bus on the narrow island highway last night and the bus went out of control.

Only the strong arms of the driver prevented what might have been one of the worst school bus tragedies in Florida history.

Farrell was proceeding north on the main island road when a Foremost Dairies truck approached toward the south. Witnesses said the milk delivery van driver apparently was preoccupied and forced Farrell further and further toward the right side of the highway.

Realizing a collision was inevitable, Farrell set his brakes and shouted to the children to hang on to the guard rails. An instant later, the milk truck struck the school bus, almost head on, shoving the 40-passenger vehicle off the road.

It was at this juncture that Farrell displayed his greatest skill. Off to his right yawned the brink of the lagoon, with a water depth of 8 feet. Jerking frantically on the oversize steering wheel to keep the bus from plunging over the low embankment and somersaulting into the lagoon, Farrell halted the bus in the nick of time. Another foot of forward movement would have meant disaster.

Hearing the crash, residents and proprietors of nearby stores rushed to aid the badly shaken but otherwise uninjured children. Farrell was on the verge of nervous collapse. With tears streaming from his face and his shoulders shaken by sobs, Farrell said only a merciful providence saved "his kids."

Oct. 17, 1936

Babcock says tariff hurts citrus trade

CLEARWATER - Standing on his qualifications as a citrus man, H.C. Babcock of Orlando spoke here last night at the Gray Moss Inn and urged voters to send him to the U.S. Senate to protect the state's citrus industry.

Babcock, president of the Association of Citrus Growers and Shippers, is the Republican nominee.

Babcock branded the government's new reciprocal tariff agreement with Cuba, which allows fruits and vegetables to enter this country "where they become directly competitive with growers of Florida products," as "disastrous."

"If I am elected, I will work for an immediate repeal of the reciprocal tariff program," he said. "This competition is decidedly unfair and will be fought by me even though our previous representatives in the United States Senate sat idly by and did not lift their voices to protest when the tariff program was initiated ...

"The agreement is disastrous to vegetable growers who often have to leave their produce rotting on the ground because they cannot meet the underselling by Cuban growers whose produce has been dumped on the American market."

Oct. 20, 1948

Predatory fish, turtles removed from lake

CLEARWATER - With the shores lined by interested sportsmen, workmen from the state Fresh Fish and Game department yesterday removed predatory fish and turtles from city-owned Crest Lake, soon to be converted into a year round "fishing hole" for Clearwater boys and girls. The project is being sponsored by the Clearwater branch of the Pinellas Conservation Club.

Oct. 20, 1948

Children will have more toys this year

CLEARWATER - Toys will be more plentiful during the coming Christmas season, according to salesmen now making the rounds of Clearwater stores. With material shortages imposed by the war virtually alleviated, salesmen say toy stocks for the Yule trade this year will be back to prewar levels.

Looking back

Headlines through the years

A look back at the events, people and places that made North Pinellas the unique place that it is. The information is compiled from past editions of the St. Petersburg Times.