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The Carriage Driver³ - Etta and Clyde

Updated on July 14, 2017

At eight years old Etta knew what she wanted and went after it. She picked out her husband from her third grade class and finalized the deal when she turned eighteen years of age. Her strength of character and just plain pluck allowed her to stand up to her parents' objections and also the objections of her nine siblings. She displayed both strength and leadership throughout her long life.

At ninety-five her eyes were still smiling. The golden flecks in her brown eyes drew plenty of attention throughout her life. She had a rebellious soul, as a child, her Mother made her wear her hair short; after the age eighteen she went Rapunzel letting her hair grow and grow, to the delight of her husband Clyde.

Poet Laureate of the third grade, in Miss Blodgett’s class, Clyde made his indelible mark on Etta’s creative literary soul, shortly after he had been sent to the principal’s office for creating the poem, “A little mouse ran up the stairs to hear Miss Blodgett say her prayers.”

Miss Blodgett told Clyde he was in big trouble and would be hit on his palm with the ruler that had holes in it if he did not make up another poem as good as the one he just recited…Clyde said “Here I stand before Miss Blodgett she’s gonna strike and I will dodge it.” That is when Etta fell head over heels in love with Clyde, the bad boy of the class.

Etta received many blessings. Her parents’ gave her a good dose of faith which guided her through many of life’s challenges. Her five children adored her. Her toughness was admired, and her warmth cherished. Each of the children was made to feel special. Hailing from a generation that had little, and expected nothing, Etta went about the cooking, cleaning and caring with good cheer.

The binding of her bible was worn from use. The Good book sat by her bedside and she turned to it daily to feed her eternal soul. She sought answers and was quite content to roam through the writings of the timeless wisdom. She found the teachings a useful guide in her life and life’s of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The teachings strengthened her. They sustained her through her forty-two year marriage. The teachings provided her with a community of people with the same dimension of perspective.

At ninety-five her family arrived at the hospital in ones and twos to say their goodbyes. All had tears in their eyes. The all carried images of holiday meals spent together. They remembered the laughter and sometimes the arguments and always the good food lovingly prepared. The children and grandchildren reminisced in the waiting room, waiting their turn to say goodbye. The whole family just would not fit into the room all at once.

Etta raised her arm to get her youngest granddaughter’s attention. “Get me the phone.”

“Dial this number.” Her daughter did as requested. “Hello Pastor? This is Etta, get a pencil. I am going to tell you which Hymns I want sung at my service.” Etta continued. When finished, she said, “Now, read them back to me.” She handed the phone back to her granddaughter, lay her head down on the pillow and closed her eyes, and returned to the cradle.

Captain Griffin Chaffey prepared the carriage. The upholstery was brushed and supple. The wheels had been recently painted. Not a speck of dirt to be seen anywhere. The leather was waxed and the brass polished. Nuelle coat glistened in the glow of the journey. He looked at the name in the book. ‘Ninety-five,’ he thought. ‘That’s a good long time.’

Etta’s granddaughter kissed her Mammaw on the forehead, patted her hand and whispered, “I love you.”

Griffin arrived at the appointed time. He stepped down from the carriage and pulled an apple from his pocket to share with Nuelle. The deep meaning of the apple had long been replaced by just the sharing of the fruits of the earth.

Griffin watched as the beautiful young woman in a flowered dress walked towards them. You could not help noticing the long brown hair draped over her shoulder like a Royal would wear a cloak. He could not help noticing she was barefoot and singing.

“I am so glad it’s you,” she said coming up to the carriage.

“We are here to take you wherever you want to go. Do you know where you want to go?”

“You mean like greener pastures? I read that small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads me to you. It must be true.”

Griffin reached out his hand. Etta took it and stepped up into the carriage being mindful of her hair. Once inside, she took hold of the end of her hair and expertly wound it in a bun and pinned it in place.

Nuelle tossed her mane and stepped away from the curb.

It was a beautiful day. The air sparkled and the leaves of the trees danced in appreciation of their luck. The wheels of the carriage seemed to sing against the cobblestones of the one true path.

Etta took it all in. The golden flecks in her brown eyes absorbed the essence surrounding her.

“If my Clyde were here, he would be composing me a poem right now. He was always composing me a poem. She giggled, “Sometimes a limerick.” The castle came into view. ‘Whoa,’ escaped Etta’s lips.

Griffin pulled up to the doors of the castle. A tall man wearing a tuxedo came through the doors to greet them.

Griffin climbed down and held out his hand to Etta. As he did, a young man ran from the front door, passed the man in the tuxedo and into the arms of Etta. The man in the tuxedo looked at Griffin and smiled. The two men shook hands. Nuelle pulled away from the front door and parked the carriage close to the side of the castle and waited.

Clyde and Etta walked inside the castle arm and arm. Griffin and the man in the tuxedo followed.

Clyde led Etta to a table stacked with volumes of hand printed books. “This is what I have been doing while I was waiting. They are volumes of poetry, all based on you, and all the love you were able to generate and bestow upon the world.”

Clyde paused, are you hungry or is there somewhere that you would like to go. We finally have all the time in the world to travel.

Etta let her hair down and draped it over her shoulder. A woman in white brought out two cool, cinnamon-apple ciders and set them on the table.

Clyde reached out and took Etta’s hand. “I am so glad you are here.”

He sat and picked up an apple cider. “To us,” he sat the drink down and picked up a book. Let me read you a poem.

Miss Blodgett had holes in her ruler

But me an Etta could, always fool her

Our lives were gone in a blur

But were we sorry, no sir

Because love is what made our lives purr


Now we are here by his throne

We set our meter and tone

All his mysteries are now known

All our children, safe and grown

We are free to stay or free to roam


My Repunzel, let down your hair

Let me dance you out of that chair

We begin again with a flare

You are the answer to my every prayer

Eternity is now ours to share


Young Etta, stepped into the arms of the love of her life.

Lynda Randle - He Will Carry You (Live)

Travelin' Shoes by Garrison Keillor.wmv

© 2017 mckbirdbks


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    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 7 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Etta sounds like my kind of lady, dear Mike. What a sweet story to discover this soupy, rainy Friday morning.

      I'm ever so happy she found her way back to Clyde and his adorably intimate poetry with the help of Griffin and Nuelle.

      Happy Friday! Hugs, mar

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello mar - I just got in from walking the dogs. California is muggy today, alot like I remember North Carolina.

      Clyde entertained Etta's simple soul. That in itself is a blessing for herself and Clyde as well. So little endures in a consumer society. Thanks for the visit and kind comment.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 7 days ago from Hereford, AZ

      Just beautiful. I loved it. He was irreverent and my grandmother would have loved having a child like him in her class. He would have probably gotten smacked with a ruler, but she would have regretted needing to, while laughing at his poetry inside. Etta is a gem. We all hope to know someone like her.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 7 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I've been lucky enough to know people like Etta and Clyde....just more proof that life is worth living to the fullest. Each day is filled with possibilities. Your stories always remind me of the miraculous nature of the mundane.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Becky – This country was made stronger by the people with the spirit of Etta and Clyde. They survived the Great Depression and World War II and came out stronger for it. Clyde knew the secret to life, with a ‘look on the bright side’ attitude and Etta spotted it early. Thanks for the visit and nice comment.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 7 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill – We are all better for knowing these types of people. Those that took an ordinary life and made the absolute best of it. ‘Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead’ and they were lucky enough to survive and thrive. It is their pride that is so outstanding. Thanks for the observation.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 6 days ago from Texas

      Mike, beautiful sweet story of unconditional love. I am glad that Griffin and Nuelle delivered Etta back to the love of her life.

      Blessings always

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 6 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Sometimes it feels like you pluck the people right out of our lives, people we've known and loved, and now miss. You endow them with so many nuances of a meaningful life. They're witty, charming, beautiful, irreverent - all endearing qualities.

      These two remind me of a couple of friends of my mother's who lived down the street from us - Edith and Ardell. I can still see him at 89 out mowing his pasture on their riding lawn mower and can picture the two of them, much like Etta and Clyde, young and in love, now free from the bonds of old age.

      Your poem reminds me of the fun at the Emerald Wells Cafe on poetry night and the ditties they would recite. Your level of creativity is amazing and your free flowing style grows with each new release. I'll listen to the music now.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Shy – I am glad you liked the story of Etta and Clyde. I am sure they are once again, young and happy with each other as they continue their journey with joy in their hearts. Thanks for the visit this morning.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg – You certainly know how to compliment a person’s writing. Thank you for that. When writing this story, it occurred to me that some people live their lives head on. They are secure in where they came from and have an idea of where they are going. They have acquired confidence and share that liberally with their families.

      Here in California, everyone seems to want a fast paced life with excitement and nonstop entertainment. In other geographic locations, people’s lives seem to go at a slower, more natural pace. We may have all known an Etta and Clyde. Or perhaps we all knew one of them, as they waited their turn at a paradise of their making.

      Clyde inspired the poem. I too remember the days where I would sit and compose five or six poems of the fourteen poems I needed for an episode of Emerald Wells Café. Believe me, I felt some were better than others.

      Thank you for such a nice comment.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 5 days ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Mike, I marvel at the many heart-warming stories you create from so many different is amazing. This is imagination and a uncanny understanding of human nature at its best. I loved your character, Etta. Wonderful writing.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 5 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Good Sunday morning to you Genna. The last two of The Carriage Driver stories were conjured after someone telling me their story. The fellow in the Silver Star, is a man I went to High School with. (A very long time ago, and a very long story.)

      As the comments show, we all knew someone like Etta. We all strive to be a bit more like Etta. Strong, determined, yet with a good nature and caring.

      Thank you for your generous comment.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 days ago from Riga, Latvia

      What a wonderful story. I would have liked to know someone like Etta. Glad you made her way back to Clyde.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Gypsy - A lifetime love is a very romantic notion. I know a few couples that have stayed together for years. How happy were they? I don't know. These days there is so much 'to want' - times were simpler, that's what they say.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 days ago from SW England

      A feisty and beautiful lady, that Etta! Love Clyde's poems too. This is such a feel-good factor story, true to the Carriage Driver series. A great read to start the day, thanks Mike.


    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ann - It seems that Etta had mostly love to share. She taught those close to her that love was more important than many other things. Thanks for your visit this morning. I appreciate the comment.

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