Front Page News

April 19, 2017


 

The Marston Bus Company Celebrates
80th Anniversary

 

In the 1930s there was no bus transportation to bring children to school in Pittsfield. Youth in the outer reaches of town had to fend for themselves, walk long distances, be driven by parents, or catch a ride with neighbors.

 

Conjecture would have it that when Samuel W. Marston’s children graduated from South Pittsfield’s one-room school house, he began to drive them to the high school Academy Building in town. He lived on Webster Mills Road and eventually began picking up other children on the way.

 

In 1937 he rigged up what might be called a “school bus.” He simply took an old farm truck chassis and built a wooden box on the back. It was held on by a chain and binder, had benches on each side, and steps that were hinged and dropped down to the ground by loosening or tightening a rope. After the children were seated, probably not too comfortably, the rope would be pulled and the stairs secured back in place. The door was then closed and off they would go.

 

Among the families of the children he picked up were the Kimballs, Morrills, Bartons, and Wheelers in Epsom, Warrens and Frosts in Chichester, and numerous children in the South Pittsfield-Webster Mills Road areas.

 

By 1941 business was so good that Mr. Marston and his wife flew to Syracuse, New York and picked up a new, modern, factory-made school bus. The purchase was arranged through Pelissier’s Garage. The Marstons drove the Ford bus with its Bender Body back to Pittsfield and began a regular route in the South Pittsfield-Catamount Mountain Area.

 

That year Sam’s son Harvey graduated from high school and he began driving the bus. About 1948, “old Sam,” as he was later called when a grandson was named after him, purchased a new and bigger bus. Again it was a Ford and held 48 passengers instead of 36 carried by the earlier bus. During the 1960s Harvey purchased the company from his father.

 

In the meantime the school district purchased buses and hired drivers to bring children from other outlying parts of town. Harvey’s son Sam A. Marston began driving in 1970 and son Tom in 1971. About 1977 the school district wanted to get out of the bus business. Gordon Weldon, School Board chair, approached Harvey in his driveway on Webster Mills Road and asked if he would take over the whole operation. Arrangements were made, Harvey paying $1.00 for three town-owned buses, and from that date forward students in Pittsfield have been bused by the H. A. Marston Company. 

 

At that time there were four routes. One covered South Pittsfield, Leavitt Road and Concord Road. The second covered Mountain Road, Berry Pond Road, Jenness Pond, Clough Road, and Tilton Hill. The third covered Route #107, Shaw Road, Lyford Hill, Eaton Road, and Upper City. The fourth covered Loudon Road, Ring Road, and Ingalls Road.  

 

Later, new buses were added, increasing the size with each purchase, from the earlier 48 passenger bus, to one carrying 65, to those carrying 71, and finally to those carrying 77.

 

Also in 1977, the Marston Company began supplying special education buses for Pittsfield’s children. Initially, there was one in-town bus and several out-of-town vans. Presently there are two small buses and one van serving in-town, and two buses and four vans carrying students out of district. By 2010 the Company was supplying two special education buses and one van for Barnstead’s children, and about 2015 began supplying a small bus for Chichester’s special needs children.

 

In 1981 the business was incorporated and the Marstons expanded their operation to Barnstead. Five new buses were purchased from Huckin’s Garage and more drivers hired. The Company ceased serving Barnstead around 1992.

 

Unfortunately, Harvey passed away in 1983 and his wife, Frances, assumed responsibility for the Company. About 1985 she purchased the Chichester bus contract and began transporting children from that community to Chichester Elementary School and Pembroke Academy.

 

Shortly after the new Pittsfield Elementary School was built in 1989, there was an attempted kidnapping of a young child and the School Board decided to bus these students as well as the out-of-towners. As a result the Marstons developed an in-town route for morning pick-ups and noon drop-offs. 

 

Since the taking over the bus routes in Pittsfield the Company has regularly transported students to sports events and field trips near and far. Among them have been to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, the New England Aquarium, and the USS Constitution in Boston, ball games at Fenway Park, and the Squam Lake Natural Science Center in Holderness.

 

Today, the Company is a thriving business. It has had four generations serving the children of Pittsfield. Mrs. Marston, at the age of 92, continues to run it as a family business today. Her father-in-law Sam started the business, her husband Harvey then took over, and presently her two sons, Tom and Sam, daughter-in-law Lynne, and grandson, Jack, are drivers. 

 

Four Generations of the Marston Bus Company

Pittsfield Marston Bus.jpg

The First Factory Made School Bus in Pittsfield With Several Students Front Row: Corine Kimball, Robert Rothwell, Sam A. Marston. Second Row: Loraine Kimball Charles Morrill, Samuel W. Marston. Third Row: Sandra Rothwell, Betty Marston

 

Pittsfield Samuel W. Marston.jpg

Samuel W. Marston

 

Pittsfield Harvey Marston.jpg

Harvey Marston

 

Pittsfield Samuel A. Marston.jpg

Samuel A. Marston

 

Pittsfield Thomas Marston.jpg

Thomas Marston

 

Pittsfield Jackson Marston.jpg

Jackson Marston

 

Pittsfield Frances Marston.jpg

Current owner Frances Marston

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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