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The guy who made school buses yellow went to school in Iowa
The guy who made school buses yellow went to school in Iowa

I know we’re in the middle of summer, but the school buses for summer schools and summer camps in the Quad Cities are still in service. My family and I drove past the bus depot near Brady Street Stadium the other day, and as I looked at the sea of ​​yellow buses, I thought to myself, “Why are school buses yellow?”

It surprises me how many things are associated with Iowa. The father of the yellow school bus (yes, that’s this guy’s unofficial title in the story) actually began his education at a college in Iowa.

Who is the father of the yellow school bus? Let’s meet Frank.

The father of the yellow school bus

I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Frank W. Cyr. Born in Franklin, Nebraska in 1900, Frank began his education to become the father of the yellow school bus in Iowa. Before I tell you what college he went to, I want to tell you how he came up with the idea of ​​giving school buses the bright yellow color we know and love today.

Shiny school bus

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In April 1939, Cyr organized a conference at Teachers College that brought together transportation officials from each of the then 48 states and specialists from school bus manufacturers. At that conference, participants established national standards for school bus construction, including the standard color of yellow for school buses, according to Dr. Cyr’s alma mater.

Cyr discovered that there was no standard for school transportation and even learned that a school in Kansas transported its children in horse-drawn wheat wagons.

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Why yellow school buses?

During that conference in 1939, Dr. Cyr, the teachers, engineers, and even color specialists in attendance developed 42 pages of regulations for school buses, including the yellow color you see today.

The final color was yellow because black letters were most easily seen on a yellow background. In addition, yellow was noticeable in the semi-darkness of early morning and late afternoon and even in bad weather. Dr. Cyr felt that the original color chosen was more orange than yellow.

Let’s go, Hawks…?!

Even though yellow and black letters are associated with school buses, he did not attend the University of Iowa.

Dr. Frank W. Cyr actually began his education at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Frank attended Grinnell and graduated in 1922. He received the Alumni Award in 1992.

Dr. Cyr died on Tuesday, August 1, 1995, in a nursing home in Stamford, New York. He was 95 years old.

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By Liam