December 1, 2015; the big 6-0:
I got up at 8:30 am and got dressed I went to the lobby for breakfast. After breakfast, I went upstairs and got my stuff together and went online for a few minutes. I then headed out. I bought a bottle of lemonade from a gas station across the street from my hotel.
I used Google Transit to find a way to the Rosa Parks Museum which is hosting an event to mark the 60th anniversary of her refusing to move. Even though they caused me to miss the train the last time I was in the U.S. I just needed a route and not to be somewhere for a specific time. I was told I could pick up a bus across the street from my hotel, but I saw nothing that looked like a bus stop sign. I had plenty of time, so I decided to walk to the intersection where I had photographed the SLF the night before because I saw a stop there. I went to the stop and I saw a shrinkwrapped Gillig hybrid bus going the other way. I attempted to photograph it.
I waited for the next bus. The wrapped Gillig was waiting to turn left onto the street I was at, but a cutaway on route #6 pulled up first. I got on the route #6 and got a transfer.
I saw a sign on the bus saying that the Civil Rights act of 1964 prohibits transit employees from discriminating against people from colour, religion, and national origin. This came out directly from what happened 60 years ago in this city. If the transit agency did discriminate, they could loose funding. It made me wish there was a way to get transit systems not to hassle photographers out of fear
of loosing funding as well!
To get downtown, I had to transfer to another bus. There was a bus terminal. However, there was work being done on overhead wires above the entrance to the terminal so the buses were loading on the street. My bus did a U-turn to get to the terminal. I noticed the MATS garage is next to the terminal.
My connecting bus was already there; Gillig hybrid #1103. I don't think MATS has a bus numbered 1122 though.
I got on #1103 and the bus departed. At one point, we turned down Rosa Parks Avenue. We soon got downtown where the bus turned. I noticed a part of the street was blocked off. It was due to a celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the start of Rosa Parks' refusal to move and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
I got off and attempted to photograph the bus as it pulled away.
I then walked to where the road was blocked off. I saw a stage had been set up in the middle of the road with some chairs set up on the stage. I saw a GM Old look a block away. I decided to go around the block to see it. I took some photos.
There was a presentation in the morning with a re-enactment of Rosa's heroic deed. I took some photos of the presentation.
During the presentation, the person portraying Rosa did an interpretative dance.
“Rosa” can be seen near the center of the photo.
The presentation soon ended. There were a couple news reporters doing interviews. One almost interviewed me. Unfortunately, due to background noise, the news reported decided against interviewing me.
I decided to go see the GM Old Look that was on display. Behind it was a highway coach from CPAC. Apparently, a candidate for the 2016 U.S. Presidential election was also in Montgomery. However, I'm not sure who it is though I've got a feeling it wasn't Donald Trump! I photographed the buses.
This Old Look ran in Montgomery in 1955, but was clearly not the bus that Rosa Parks was arrested on 60 years ago. I visited that Old Look (#2857) at the Henry Ford Museum. However, there's a good chance Rosa Parks was on that bus. However, the unit number was not shown on the bus which is apparently owned by MATS as a historic bus.
When #2857 was retired in 1971, it didn't go straight to the Henry Ford Museum; instead it was bought by an individual who parked the bus in his front yard where it went unmaintained until the Ford Museum acquired it and then cosmetically restored it. One more interesting piece about #2857 is that after it was put on display at the Henry Ford Museum, President Obama was photographed on the bus seated across from where Rosa Parks was sitting on December 1, 1955.
The Old Look was staffed by volunteers. They told people that it was not the bus Rosa Parks was arrested on. I told them about how I had seen the bus at the Henry Ford Museum and about the circumstances that brought me to it. They were interested by the fact that the TTC bus whose driver I stood up too on November 4, 2011 was a GM bus and the number was only two off from Rosa's bus.
I saw another news reporter and although she wasn't being filmed, we talked a bit. I told my story of TTC #2855 and Rosa Parks and she also thought it was interesting how the numbers of the two GM buses were two away from each other. The news reporter told me that I should go to the Rosa Parks Museum which was behind her. I told her I was planning to go there.
The Rosa Parks Museum is located at the intersection where #2857 was at when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. For the 60th anniversary, the museum was offering free admission. I went into the museum. There was a GM Old Look on display numbered 5572, but I could not photograph it as per the museum rules. There was a plaque outside the main museum that I photographed and another room where you could photograph exhibits.
I went to the gift shop and bought a t-shirt and a couple postcards. I then left the museum and took a couple more photos the building.
I then photographed the two buses on display.
I saw the Old Look's engine was started and it looked like they were going to move the bus! I wondered if I could go for a ride on it. I was able to! The ride was about half a block, but it was still a ride on an Old Look. I ended up getting an 8 second ride video. The Old Look had been moved to half a block from where #2857 was when Rosa was arrested. I got off and photographed the Old Look.
I was then interviewed by another TV news reporter! However, I do not know if my interview made it onto TV later that night.
I walked down to Montgomery Union Station. Along the way, I photographed a MATS Gillig at the nearby bus terminal.
I photographed the front of Montgomery Union station and the old train shed which is now a parking lot.
The Gulf Breeze never stopped at Montgomery Union station. It stopped at an “Amshack” a short distance away. However, between 1971 and 1979, Amtrak had a train called the Floridian which ran from Chicago to Miami which stopped at Montgomery Union Station.
Union Station now houses a Thai restaurant. There is also an old streetcar from Montgomery on display in the train shed. I photographed it.
I went looking for what was left of the station that the Gulf Breeze stopped at but I didn't really find anything. I did photograph a boat used for river cruises.
I believe that this was where the Gulf Breeze stopped in Montgomery.
After awhile, I made my way to the MATS terminal as I was hungry and I didn't see anywhere to have lunch. I photographed MATS Gillig #1103 on the way to the terminal.
I boarded a bus on route #2 to see if it would take me to somewhere I could have lunch. I saw a Wendy's so I got off and had lunch there. I photographed the bus after I got off.
After lunch, I walked back towards the bus terminal and eventually caught a cutaway back to the terminal. At the terminal, I photographed a Gillig in the regular MATS livery.
I caught a route #10 back to the transfer centre. It was raining a bit. At the transfer centre, I got off and photographed another shrinkwrapped Gillig.
I then walked to the garage and photographed some buses that looked retired.
I then made my way back to the transfer centre. I was thinking about heading back to my hotel when an SLF pulled into the terminal. I photographed it.
The SLF was a 30 foot version and numbered #102. Other than the Old Look, I believe #102 is the oldest bus in the fleet.
I rode #102 into downtown Montgomery and got off. I filmed the bus pulling away. I then walked up to the Old Look and photographed it again.
I then walked towards the transit terminal downtown and photographed some buses including another SLF on route #2.
I went to an overpass over the line near Montgomery Union station hoping to see a freight train. However, no trains came by. I saw a caboose nearby. I walked over to it and photographed it.
I then walked back to the Rosa Parks museum. I had previously seen a picture of a plaque marking the spot where the bus was when Rosa refused to give up her seat. I saw it was covered up. It would be revealed in a ceremony a little later.
I photographed the Old Look after dark.
The ceremony began. A choir of children sang a song in tribute to the late Rosa Parks thanking her. The mayor of Montgomery also spoke. I took a picture of the ceremony.
Eventually, the plaque was unveiled. I photographed both sides of it.
It was almost 60 years to the moment that Rosa Parks went down in history by breaking a transit by-law that should never have existed in the first place.
I then left and caught a route #12 bus to the transfer centre. When I got there, I photographed the bus.
I asked when the next route #11 bus would come as it was closest to my hotel. I learned it would be 40 minutes. There was a route #6 bus in the transfer centre so I took it. I rode the bus to the street that my hotel was on and got off. I photographed the bus after I got off.
I started walking back when a guy asked me where I was from. He also told me he had a hotel room and some girls, but he somehow lost it and asked me for help. I told him no and walked off. I wonder if those girls were prostitutes. I got back to my hotel without incident.
I went to my room for awhile until I felt hungry. I then walked to a Taco Bell across the street from the Greyhound station. After dinner, I walked back to my hotel. Someone said he was waiting for a late night Greyhound needed money and offered to sell me headphones for $5. I told him I already had three sets of headphones. I got back to my hotel without incident.
I asked for a wake up call at 8:00 am and set the alarm on my phone. I eventually called it a night.
60 years later, lightning did not strike twice. Click to read about my long trip home: Part 3