Postal Service unveils yellow school bus stamp

Mar. 20—The iconic yellow school bus is now on a U.S. postage stamp, several years after Frank W. Cyr of Stamford and Joan Dorr of Laurens tried to get it commissioned.

While both Cyr, who died in 1995, and Dorr, who died in 2006, were not around to see the yellow school bus stamp issued, Dorr's daughter, Debi Hunsberger, said she thinks, "Absolutely they would be proud of their efforts."

The postal service issued the stamp on Jan. 5, and it is used on letters that weigh more than the standard ounce. Hunsberger didn't know the stamp had been issued until a person her mom talked to about the stamp called her on March 10.

"My mom kept asking 'Why do they keep turning down the bus? Everybody has ridden in one,'" Hunsberger said. "It was a long, long process. Our families are really glad this has happened since they worked so hard on it. It's a nice feeling to see something they both worked so hard on is finished. This stamp that was issued was not the same design they submitted, but it recognizes the yellow school bus."

In a description about the stamp, the postal service said the stamp features a 21st century school bus in front of a silhouetted schoolhouse, complete with a clock tower announcing the beginning of a school day. The information about the stamp includes information about how the color was chosen, but doesn't mention Cyr by name.

Cyr, known as "Father of the Yellow School Bus," tried to convince the postal service to commission a yellow school bus stamp in 1989, 50 years after he and others met at Columbia University to discuss universal modes of transportation for school students, Hunsberger said.

Cyr was a professor of rural education at Columbia University when he organized the conference in April 1939 to establish national school bus construction standards, including the standard color of yellow for the school bus, a post on the Columbia University Teachers College website said. Prior to the meeting, buses were painted any color the school districts wanted, and were varying lengths and widths, which was not good for bus manufacturers because they wanted to use assembly lines, the article said.

In addition to picking the color, the group voted on 44 standards, including body lengths, ceiling heights, door specifications and aisle widths, the article said. Most of those standards have changed since 1939, but the color has remained the same.

Cyr retired and moved to Stamford, where he met and became friends with Ed and Joan Dorr, Hunsberger said. Cyr sent letters to the USPS Stamp Committee asking for a school bus stamp, and was turned down, she said. After Cyr died, Joan took over the job of trying to get the stamp issued by the postal service, she said. "She was good friends with Congressman Sherwood Boehlert and state Sen. James Seward and sent letters to them asking about the stamp," Hunsberger said. They both agreed a stamp should be issued.

She said her mom corresponded with several people at the federal level to try to get the stamp issued and received letters from congressmen in return, stating they were in favor of the stamp. There was also an article written in the School Bus Fleet magazine about the history of the standard color and the hope a stamp would be issued in 1999, Hunsberger said.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.