A Village Treasure
One of the treasures of Riverlea is the bus stop at 189 West Southington Ave. Melissa and Lee Potter
were juggling the needs of two elementary school girls and a medically fragile infant son. Living in a central part of our village, near a number of Evening Street Elementary School children, Melissa requested to become a "bus stop home." Initially there were 7 elementary school children catching the bus. The Potter's driveway became a gathering spot for parents and siblings to share news and build friendships. With the tremendous increase in the number of families with young children in Riverlea, the count is now 32 Evening Street Elementary School students and 3 Phoenix Middle School students. The middle school students can be seen standing in the dark waiting for their 7 o'clock bus. Melissa and Lee have risen early to include them in the ongoing traditions of the bus stop. The middle school students who attend Kilbourne have a later start and do not have a bus route in the village. If they would only get up early, they could still come for the fun. Once the Potter's began to host the bus stop, special events and holiday celebrations soon followed:
First day of school pictures next to the school bus flag. The wheels on the bus flag spin in the breeze each year as the flag appears when the school year is beginning.
The first Friday after school starts is Donut Day.
On hot days, children may be greeted with a popsicle when exiting the bus at the end of the school day.
Many autumn days, kids stop to play in the Potter's backyard as parents visit on the deck. Melissa often provides snacks and
drinks as she cuddles Riley and neighbors visit. The zip line is a hit with the kids, as are the chickens.
The Bus Stop Bonfire Breakfast occurs the last day before winter break. Parents and kids gather round Lee's bonfire set up in the middle of the driveway. Emma and Maggie Potter hang candy canes in the pine trees next to the driveway, and kids snag a treat as they head for the bus after feasting at the breakfast potluck.
A few years ago, Melissa and her girls were perfecting their knitting skills. Melissa knit a hat for every child at the bus stop - all 16
Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day are celebrated with donuts and milk. As the Irish might expect, the milk and donuts sprinkles are green.
Easter is celebrated when a certain bunny hides candy filled eggs for kids to find at the bus stop.
The last day of school is a BIG celebration with a potluck breakfast featuring school bus shaped pancakes by Dan Noonan.
Then someone yells, "Here comes the bus!" Cameras flash as the 6th graders charge through the parental human tunnel of raised arms to enter the bus for their last ride to Evening Street Elementary.
At the Potter Bus Stop, parents soon learn that if they are running late to get to the bus in the afternoon or need help with a
late start morning, a call to Melissa solves the problem. Melissa welcomes all with a snack and a smile. Melissa refers to her open
door policy as "A Flop House" where all are welcome and safe.
A recent example of the Potter Welcome was in icy January. The bus was running late, so Melissa invited everyone inside. The story I heard was that as the parents enjoyed coffee, the kids started the day with early Valentine's chocolate (and milk) as Maggie's disco ball twirled.
Other memorable moments include the afternoon that an entire Girl Scout troop disembarked from the bus to meet at Melissa's home, the time lapse video of "a morning at the bus stop" posted to the village Facebook group by Laura Bischoff, ice skating after school on the Potter's rink, singing the school song in farewell to neighbors Melody and Scott Thompson the morning of their move, and sharing the news of beloved bus driver Miss Denise's diagnosis of cancer. Melissa stays in touch with Miss Denise who is a trusted friend and protector of our children on their rides to and from school. The bus stop families rely on Melissa to keep us updated. The meal exchange group coordinated by Melissa gave a set of meals to Denise and her husband in January. She is in our thoughts and prayers.
There are many more stories to tell
about the generosity and neighborliness
of the Potter family. Thank you "Bus
Stop Mom" Melissa. You and your family
have contributed to the fond childhood
memories many children will have of living