On Friday March 28, 1947, at 6:55 a.m., Bronx bus driver William Cimillo got into his bus to start his daily route. But then something happened. The open road called to him. He said later that he was overcome by "that old spring-time urge." He started driving, and he didn't stop until he reached Florida, where he was found four days later at a race track. During the entire trip, no one ever asked him why he was driving an empty New York bus down the highway.
"Baby, this is it... I just got the old springtime urge."
The bus company filed charges of grand larceny against him, but the public rallied in support of him, feeling that Cimillo simply gave in to that "yearning for escape" that everyone feels at one time or another. So eventually the company forgave him and put him back on the job, on the condition that he was on probation for one year.
Bus Driver Just Kept Going and Found Self in Florida
—(AP)— The driver of a 44 passenger bus from the Bronx was in jail here Tuesday, while authorities who impounded his empty conveyance when they took him into custody awaited word from new York as to what to do next.
Police Chief Philip A. Thompson identified the driver as William L. Cimillo, 37. He gave no reason why he started on a routine run Friday morning and wound up in Hollywood, more than 1,300 miles away.
Married and the father of two children, Cimillo said he "just started out and kept going." He added that "the fellows at the bus company will understand, I'm sure."
Cimillo was taken into custody at the Gulfstream Park race track, where he said he went to "see if I couldn't scrape up some money."
"I didn't know where I was headed — Florida, Mexico, California — I could have wound up any place," he said. "It just happened that I hit Highway 1 and wound up in Florida.
"One thing I want you to get clear: I haven't had any trouble at home. I've got a swell wife and three swell kids."
In New York, the Bronx county grand jury Tuesday handed up an indictment charging Cimillo with grand larceny. Detective Fred Durant prepared to leave for Florida with a warrant to bring Cimillo back.
Cimillo said he drove about 15 hours the first day, spent the night in a tourist cabin somewhere in Virginia. Stopped Saturday night in a Georgia tourist camp, and arrived in West Palm Beach Sunday night.
He said he drove to Hollywood Monday morning, parked the bus on a side street, telegraphed the bus company for money, and then decided to go to the race track. Police arrested him when he called at the track's Western Union office to get the money.
During the entire trip, Cimillo said, he was never questioned by police as to why he was driving an empty $18,000 New York bus. He said several times restaurant operators asked where he was headed and each time he replied, "South."
—The Milwaukee Journal
- Apr 1, 1947
Category: Mass Transit | 1940s