By Mr. Eric Pilgrim (Fort Knox news)January 10, 2018
"Mornin,' Miss Doris!"
Doris Davis smiles at the young lady as she enters the bus company site at Fort Knox, Kentucky -- right on time for a new school day.
"Mornin'," she replies, offering a smile that has become a hallmark around here.
The pleasant exchange continues as she moves through the building -- clocking in, checking the women's bathroom, setting up her daily log and verifying her route: then out the building.
In the parking lot, Davis kicks the tires of her bus, checks the oil, and walks down the aisle inside looking for anything out of place -- any safety violations. She goes down a checklist and logs into a phone app that will monitor her movements. She ensures everything is right.
The quiet, unassuming, small-framed bus driver doesn't let anything get in the way of her job, especially not her age.
All in a day's work for the 82-year-old.
"She's a bus driver, she's our janitor, and she's probably in better health than all of us," said Vickie Noble, the site manager. "She's just a very wonderful employee, especially to be that age and be in the health she's in."
Davis makes it clear she isn't looking for partiality nor will she accept it.
"I work just like everybody else," Davis said. "I don't get special treatment."
Davis attributes her faith, her love of driving Fort Knox children to and from school, her four kids, and her work family with keeping her young. And a desire to keep busy. "I like keeping busy."
The bus gig started during another time, another era.
"I started driving in '65," Davis said. "Back then, I drove about a year, year-and-a-half. Then my ex-husband got orders. He went to Korea, so I didn't drive anymore."
Davis found other work, including at the various bowling alleys on post. She said it wasn't until much later -- after her kids were grown, out of the house, and her marriage had ended -- that she considered driving a bus again.
"I was talking to my girlfriend and said, 'Ooh, I need to find myself something else to do,'" said Davis. "She said, 'Why don't you go back to driving the school bus. You always said you loved it.'"
Davis took her friend's advice; and she just happened to know a man at Fort Knox who hired school bus drivers.
"I called him and told him who I was. He said, 'Well, come on up,'" Davis said. "I came on up, and he told me to be at the high school. It was August the 8th, and that was in 1990."
She started as a substitute and ended up driving practically every day that first year. At the same time, she maintained her employment with the bowling alleys for five more years before focusing strictly on driving a bus.
She's been driving ever since, for so long that those who rode her bus as children and stayed in the area are now putting their children on her bus.
About 13 years ago, Noble started working at the bus site. Davis and one other driver were there when she arrived. The two developed a special bond over the years, one that even includes nicknames.
"Lucy Belle. That's a name I gave Doris years back," Noble said. "Even on the radio, I call her Lucy Belle. No rhyme or reason. She just looks like a Lucy Belle, I reckon."
Another bonding moment came in December 2016, when Noble lost her daughter in an automobile accident. Davis had lost her oldest daughter in 2013 after battling hepatitis C from tainted blood given to her during a transfusion.
The death hit Davis hard then. Three years later, it became another connection for Noble.
"That's a special bond we share, although not one you want to share with somebody. We both can relate to how that feels."
Noble said moments like these have made Davis critically important to the others, and to her.
"She's got to stay until I leave," said Noble. "I said, 'Doris, that's our agreement.' And I think she will. Doris will work until she just isn't able because she really enjoys it. I'd take a whole bunch of Miss Doris's."
For Davis, the desire to work is a bit simpler.
"I just pray I can continue to stay in good health and do whatever I want to do," Davis said. "And that's not much. I'm a home body. I love being home--
"As long as I'm busy, I'm good."