After 50 years, 'Mr. Greyhound' plans to stick around bus station

rheaton@islandpacket.comDecember 15, 2012 

Curtis "Pogo" Eldred stands for a portrait in front of Beaufort's Greyhound bus station on Thursday morning. He has worked at the station for 50 years and has no plans to retire.

DELAYNA EARLEY, STAFF PHOTO

Curtis Eldred's first paycheck at the Beaufort Greyhound bus station was for $21.37 -- enough to cover the room he was renting at the Beaufort Hotel on Port Republic Street and still leave the 22-year-old with pocket change.

That was in 1962.

Eldred had just left the Marine Corps and was down to his last $6 when he took the job at the bus stop on Scott Street. He worked seven days a week unloading and loading the buses that came in and out of the station.

He never thought he'd still be working there 50 years later as the station manager.

A lot has changed in that time -- he's gone from handwriting tickets to issuing them through a computer, for example, and the bus stop moved to Boundary Street, then to its current spot on Trask Parkway.

But Eldred's favorite part of the job remains the same: meeting new people.

"If you come in here with a chip on your shoulder, you're going to leave with a smile on your face," the 72-year-old said. "I like for everyone to be in a happy mood when they leave here."

John Rials, who owns the station, called Eldred "the best friend you've never met." More than once, Rials came into the station in the evening to find about 15 people in stitches over Eldred's jokes while waiting in the lobby.

The man many call "Mr. Greyhound" or "Pogo" remembers even the smallest things about meeting some folks -- like the man who came in years ago to buy a bus ticket to "grandma's house."

"I said, 'You've got to help me out a little bit. Grandma's house has got to be in a state, right?' " Eldred said. Turns out there wasn't a bus station at grandma's house -- but there was one in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Eldred helped him get there.

It's not been all jokes.

Eldred has helped catch a few criminals through the years, including a Marine recruit who skipped from Parris Island after taking more than $1,000 from other Marines. He also spotted a mug shot in The Beaufort Gazette that looked similar to a man he had bought a ticket that morning. It wasn't the same man, Eldred said, but the ticket-holder was wanted in North Carolina.

And tragedy struck in the mid-1990s, when Eldred's coworker Al Evans was killed during a robbery at the bus station. Rials said Eldred helped hold the station together during that time.

"He assisted us all through a difficult situation -- me, the gentleman's wife," Rials said. "He made it easier for me to deal with things."

Despite his age, Eldred said he's not retiring. He will keep working at the station -- loading and unloading packages and luggage, issuing tickets, making sure things run smoothly and joking with customers.

"As long as I can still do the job, I have it," he said. "I'm going to keep going until I can't do it anymore."

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

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Station to house new store; Oct. 23, 2003

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