ROTHSAY, Minn. — On a gloomy, wet afternoon in Rothsay, Minn., bus 26 arrives to pick up little Tigers.
Bus driver Larry Ohe, no stranger to Rothsay families, greets each rider as they board. He has been hauling students for 50 years.
"I get up around 5:30 a.m. and into town around 20 after 6 a.m.," Ohe said.
He started driving school buses in 1971 at the age of 21.
"When I came to town, I didn't know anyone — didn't know where anyone lived," he said.
During his long tenure, Ohe has driven some long-haul trips, including dozens of senior class visits to Washington, D.C.
"Back in the day, I was all over the place," he said.
These days, the students he hauls home are the children and grandchildren of his first riders.
"You get to know everybody," Ohe said.
He likes to make the bus ride home a part of their education, too.
"Who can tell me the capitol of Utah?" he asked.
"Salt Lake City," several students responded.
"He helps me learn lots of things," one student chimed in.
Ohe quizzes them on state capitals and the direction they're headed. He also reminds them where they live.
"I tell these kids, 'Look at the sunrise. The sunrises are spectacular. There are kids in big towns that never see what you see.'" he said. "And we go by Maplewood State Park in the fall, and I tell them to put down their cellphones to look at the colors and tell them, 'People drive for miles to look at what you see every day.'"
In addition to the extra lessons Ohe teaches his riders, he extends a little extra help where he can. On this rainy day, instead of a wet walk to the house, he gave one of the students a ride up the farmyard.
The girl's dad used to ride Larry's bus route, too.
After half a century of driving, he has a soft spot for the kids on his route.
"We got good kids," Ohe said.