The Bus Driver and the Flag Girl


Words by Terrell Manasco | Image by Blakeney Clouse

It was the spring of 1949.

Dollie Hudson, a 16-year-old student at Curry High, decided to play hooky from school, so she skulked over to her sister-in-law Mavis Hudson’s house. During her visit, Dollie noticed a handsome young man outside the house, Mavis’ 17-year-old nephew, Bill Berry. She was intrigued, to say the least. “When they carried me home, I made Mavis tell my mama and daddy where I had been all day,” Dollie laughs. “I told her, ‘he is so cute.’”

The attraction was mutual. Bill, as she later found out, had noticed Dollie as well. “Well doggone, when Mavis got back in the car, Bill turned to her and said, ‘You know, she’s downright cute!’” she says.

The two began dating off and on for about a year, and always with a chaperone. Bill also drove the school bus Dollie rode, which provided them more opportunities to become better acquainted. Dollie would board the bus at her home in Farmstead, then sit up front and be his “flag lady,” holding a flag out the window at each stop. 

One night, Bill arrived at Dollie’s house for a double date in the only transportation he had— a log truck. “We went to the Manchester drive-in theater (where Oak Hill Cemetery is now) in that log truck with another couple,” Dollie says. “The next time he came, the dogs started barking. They (the couple) told Bill that my mama was siccing the dogs on him,” she giggles. 

“I wasn’t afraid of them dogs,” Bill says with a sly grin.

“You were afraid of my mama!” Dollie jokes. 

On April 17, 1950, Bill’s stepmother drove them to Birmingham. After securing a marriage license, they said their vows and became husband and wife. 

Two years later, their first child, Danny Joe, was born. Don, their second, arrived in 1954. Their first daughter, Dee, arrived in 1960, later followed by Patty in 1968. 

Since Bill retired from Drummond Coal 18 years ago, he and Dollie have spent their leisure time traveling across the country, often by camper. Bill, who is a licensed pilot, has also flown them on several trips. “We’ve been to every state except Hawaii,” Dollie says. 

This April, Bill and Dollie will celebrate 69 years of marriage. What’s their secret of almost seven decades of wedded bliss? Do they have any advice for a long and happy marriage? “Figure out early in life you aren’t going to win an argument,” Bill says, laughing. 

“Fight it out!” Dollie adds, without missing a beat. 

She still thinks he’s cute. And from the way he looks at her, the feeling is still quite mutual. 78

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