Renty Solomon and Wyatt Goldwire were well respected men of their communities. They started transporting black students in Clyo and its surrounding areas.
The role of a school bus driver is very important. Often, drivers are the first (and last) persons our children see each school day. Their services and contributions are rarely acknowledged with sincere appreciation.
Black residents in Clyo (GA), remember what life was like as a child without school buses.
“I remember when we all walked to school, that’s just the way it was,” stated Mary Alice Johnson of Savannah, GA. “The Black school was on one side of town; and the White school was on the other.”
“The White kids got their bus; and shortly after we got ours.” Johnson stated. Renty Solomon (1903-1978) transported students in the Taylors Chapel, Reedsville and Clyo areas. Known as “Mr. Renty”, Solomon first started transporting students by truck.
“It was a green Dodge pickup,” said Lorenzo Rines of Garden City, Georgia. “He would get about 10 to 12 student in the back. Yeah, it was crowded, but nobody complained. We were just happy we didn’t have to walk.”
“I rode the truck my first few years of school, until Mr. Renty started driving his bus.” Rines said.
Several years later, Solomon and his wife Hanna Goldwire Solomon, bought a bus from the Blue Bird Bus Company in Fort Valley, GA. They purchased the bus “brand new”—with cash. “It wasn’t uncommon for someone to buy a bus from our factory.” Stated Tim Gordon, Director of Sales at Blue Bird. “Many people owned their own busses at that time. It probably cost (Solomon) a few thousand dollars back then.”
Mr. Wyatt Goldwire (1900-1981) was a sharecropper and an accomplished carpenter that built many buildings throughout several of Effingham’s communities. He drove a school bus for students from the communities of Berryville, Rahn Hill, Warner Hill and Freddie Hill. These students attended Union Springs School. The School was located next to the Union Springs AME Church, of which Mr. Wyatt was a dedicated member.
Polly Samuel Tate of Berryville states, “all the kids called him Uncle Wyatt, whether they were related to him or not.”
Dr. Franklin Goldwire, former principal of three Effingham County Schools: (Springfield Central High, Springfield Central Middle and South Effingham High School) remembers both men very fondly.
“Wyatt Goldwire was my Granddaddy. I rode his bus when I started going to Central [High]. He was a disciplinarian; but his character was his driving force. He had high expectations and the students would fall in line. He wasn’t mean… he was firm. You knew what he wanted and knew how to behave.”
“Mr. Renty was my Grandma Sally’s (Roper) brother. They stayed next door to each other; so I used to ride his bus to visit her on the weekends.”
The significance of student transportation in the rural communities of Clyo.
In the late 1940s and early 50s, an effort to educate the black students was inspired by members affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. There were three Methodist churches in the area: Taylors Chapel, Mt Pisgah and Union Springs. Each church started with a one room school that taught elementary grade levels.
Before the transportation effort, many students received very little formal education, if any in the area. Children enrolled in the Taylors and Union Springs schools often had to walk long distances through rural, wooded areas; often withstanding the elements of changing climates. Thus, most students in those areas only attained a few years of elementary education.
Neither Mr. Renty Solomon nor Mr. Wyatt Goldwire had any formal education.
Hauling the students to the local elementary school made a real difference.
Angela Johnson of Pooler, Georgia tells of her mother’s experience. “Momma would have to walk about 2 miles into Clyo on Kildare Road. Don’t get me wrong, it could be harsh on days when it was cold or raining.”
“Walking to Taylors [school] would have been too far. That walk would have been about 8 miles for them.”
Johnson is the granddaughter of Renty Solomon. Her mother, Mildred Solomon Johnson completed the 8th grade at the old Clyo school. It was located next to Mr. Pisgah Church. After graduation, she attended high school at Alfred E. Beach in Savannah.
“Lots of students went off for high school” stated Janie Ruth Jefferson, of Dundee, Fl. “After leaving the Clyo school, I went to Boylan Haven, an all-girls boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida.”
From Segregation to Consolidation then Integration
By the 1956-57 school year, all three elementary schools were consolidated to one location. Solomon and Goldwire, hauled 1st thru 8th graders to the new Clyo Elementary school, located on Fair Street.
That same school year, Solomon and Goldwire transported 9th -12th grade students to Central High School, located in Springfield.
Both Clyo Elementary and Springfield’s Central High School taught the black students of the Clyo community until 1970, when a court order mandated the desegregation of schools in Effingham County.
Per the court order, Clyo Elementary School was closed, and all remaining students were transferred to Springfield Elementary. Springfield’s Central High’s building was re-purposed to serve middle school students; and all Central High students were transferred to Effingham County High School.
By the completion of Effingham County’s school integration, both Solomon and Goldwire had retired. They both will forever be remembered as good men of the church and in the community.