Icy Roads and Broken Necks

by Lynne McCafferty -
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I spent a lot of my time at Grandma Lucille’s house between the years of 1973 - 1976. I remember that Doug and Angie lived there. Grandma worked a lot, so I stayed at her house and watched them for her. They really didn’t need me to since Grandma was only a few yards away. Anyway, one winter I remember Grandma getting us up early so we could have biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, toast and jam, she always seemed to fix the biggest meals you’ve ever seen, and don’t think it went to waste. By the time she kindly offered you the last little bit in the bowl, you knew you were going to burst.

This morning she wanted to get an early start due to the roads being a sheet of ice and she was taking us all to school that morning. I knew from previous trips with Grandma that she hated those icy roads going into town. I also knew that it would take us 30 minutes to go 2 miles because she always drove extra careful with one foot slightly on the gas and the other hovering over the brake.

The road from Grandma’s house to downtown is winding and has a huge hill, kind of dangerous on a good day if you are not watching your speed, but absolutely dangerous on a wet or icy day. As I said, Grandma had gotten up early so we could make the 2 mile trip to the school. You could tell she was worried when we all had to do a flat-foot skate to the car holding on to one another’s hands, with Grandma behind us saying “you kids be careful, we’d never make it to the doctor if one of you fell and broke your neck”. I can remember we all giggled about that, thinking as young kids do, break a neck?

Once we got to the car, I piled into the front seat with Grandma and Doug and Angie took the back seat. We slowly began our trek out of the driveway. I swear it was ten minutes later before we hit the highway which is only about 200 feet from her house. Once on the highway we began to creep downtown. Grandma slightly tapping the brakes every ten feet after giving the tiniest bit of gas. She had both hands firmly planted on the steering wheel and you could see her knuckles turning white, her body sitting rigid in the seat, head forward leaning to see the roads ahead, eyes unblinking and a look of sheer consternation on her face. We all stayed quiet, for what reason I don’t know, because the further we went the more Grandma muttered under her breath saying stuff like “we ain’t gonna make it — you kids be still”. I don’t think we moved a muscle, heck I don’t think we were even breathing but she kept on saying that over and over. Once we got down the road a ways by the Church of God, we started to slide a little bit. This terrified us all, and I remember vividly Grandma saying “Oh my goodness, you kids hang on we’re headed for the ditch”. Her knuckles whiter than ever, her hands hanging onto the wheel and her leg straight as she pushed on the brake. I’ll never forget the 2 full circles we did right in the highway going a blazing 3 miles per hour. We stopped nicely into the drive of one of the homes just off of highway 281. Grandma turned around and true to form said “It’s a good thing we didn’t go into that ditch, or somebody would’ve broken their necks.” All of us kids busted out laughing. Grandma had a grin on her face too. We slowly made our way to the school and bustled out of the car with Grandma telling us to hang on to one another til we got to the school. She didn’t say it but we knew she was thinking “or you’ll break you necks”.

Sure miss those days of carefree abandon and the beautiful and caring woman that let me know I was loved more than anything.