Neat finds and fun stories

The McDonald’s Bus – a true crime saga!?

So this started out as a breezy fun story but when I tried to find the “how did it end up?” it ended up turning into a scary unsolved mystery.

Have you heard of the Saco McDonald’s bus? Did you ever ride it? Our story starts in June 1973 – a controversial yet brilliant marketing move. The idea was that McDonald’s would run a free shuttle between the beach at Old Orchard Beach to their restaurant on Route 1, Saco – pretty smart! It was controversial and unpopular with lots of businesses (the local bus company as well as OOB restaurants) but operated for 2 years.

In the summer of 1975 though (angered after the service area was expanded perhaps?), someone started a dual campaign of phoned-in threats and multiple incidents of shooting at the bus itself (and it’s young driver). The 21 year-old driver, Kenneth Charles of Biddeford, was grazed by the bullet – and while bleeding profusely had the incredible presence of mind to get the bus off the road. The bus was vandalized. The auto mechanics at the shop where the bus was awaiting repairs were threatened as well.

No one was willing to touch the thing after this, rightly so; and the service had to be discontinued. The shooter(s) were never brought to justice, a suspect was located but never arrested, and the crime (as far as I can see) was never solved.

Hiring ad for the McDonald’s Bus, June 4, 1973
Biddeford-Saco Journal, June 9, 1973
Biddeford-Saco Journal, June 15, 1973 – p.1
Help wanted ad for McDonald’s bus – August 1973
Biddeford-Saco Journal, July 11, 1973
McDonald’s bus announced expanded service area for the 1975 season – June 2, 1975
Biddeford-Saco Journal, July 21, 1975
Biddeford-Saco Journal, July 22, 1975 (p.1)
Biddeford-Saco Journal OpEd, July 23, 1975
Biddeford-Saco Journal, September 5, 1975