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New Greystone Book: "All Aboard the Banana Bus"

June 11, 2020
Ian Thompson

bus driver holding book GREYSTONE - The Reverend Thomas Joseph has driven a school bus for Hoover City Schools for four years. Despite the abbreviated school year, he chose to write a book about his daily travels.

“I got a lot of help,” Joseph said. “There are 60 children on my bus and they all contributed to the storylines.”

Joseph drives bus 12-10 for Greystone Elementary School and thoroughly enjoys the rapport he has developed with the children he transports.

Adventures on the Banana Bus chronicles the tale of two mallard ducks, Nova and Chandler, as the children on the bus see them on a lake on their journey to and from school and the ducks become curious about the bus and the children on it.  Joseph asked his teenage granddaughter, Maggie Joseph, already a published artist, to illustrate the book for him, while he wrote, typeset, edited and published it.  He began the project in early February, and was determined to deliver the finished product, despite the intervention of Covid-19.

So, in recent weeks, he made hand-deliveries of the book to each family represented on the bus.  Talk about going above and beyond.  HCS Transportation Director Jeremy Bradford concurred.

“Thomas has developed a great relationship with the children on his bus. This is an incredible example of this shining through.”

Joseph came to bus driving a little later in life. He grew up in Montgomery and moved to Birmingham a year after marrying his wife Peggy. He worked in the steel business and other businesses for 15 years, before deciding to attend seminary, attending Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, while working as a janitor.

Three and a half years later he was ordained and took over as pastor of Lake Crest Presbyterian Church in Hoover; a role he continues in to this day.

Approximately four years ago he lost a part-time denominational job and was looking for an additional source of income and benefits. Long-time HCS School Resource Officer Don Tate told him about the opportunity to drive a bus. The rest, they say, is history.

He started out driving for Hoover High School, then switched to Greystone Elementary, which works well as he lives on that side of town.

How did the idea for his book come about?

“My wife teaches Mother’s Day Out at Briarwood in the three-year-old class. Every year she produces a calendar for the following year with pictures of the children in it for the parents to have," Joseph said. “I’m always thinking of ways to keep the kids on the bus occupied and had an idea where I wanted them to come up with characters for a possible book. It kind of went from there.”

Not for publication outside of the school, he was careful to include the names of all 60 children who rode his bus.

“I wanted them to read their name in print.”

And the name, Banana Bus?

“Greystone names each bus after a piece of fruit so the younger children, who are still learning to read and write, can easily recognize my bus as the banana bus.

A happy coincidence is that Thomas Joseph drives a Thomas bus, one of the two manufacturers of buses in the large HCS fleet; the other being Blue Bird.

“I didn’t write this book for any form of recognition; just a fun way to engage the children every day,” Joseph said.

That he took the time to self-publish it and then hand deliver it to all the children on his bus is a wonderful testament to this man. Will there be a sequel next year?

“I believe so. I think I’ve started something now.”