The Long Ride Home


Cold and frightened, Emma and her brother Mikey huddled next to each other in the back seat of Mrs. Dunphy’s Studebaker.

The storm had intensified since they left the Willard Elementary School with Emma’s third grade teacher and her husband an hour earlier. Heavy wet snow blew across Old Marsh Road, causing treacherous driving conditions. The wiper blades rattled as they swept over the windshield. They couldn’t see out of the side windows.

Mr. Dunphy tried desperately to free the rear wheels from the slushy snow. The car rocked back and forth, its tires spinning. The vehicle wouldn’t budge. He cursed out loud.

“Do something, Howard,” shrieked Mrs. Dunphy. “We’re freezing. Why isn’t there any heat?”

“Mildred, the car is stuck. I don’t know what’s wrong with the heater. I’m doing the best I can.”

“There’s a plastic shovel in the trunk, Howard. Try digging around the tires. Don’t worry, children, Mr. Dunphy will get us home safely.”

Mr. Dunphy looked at them through the rear view mirror. “Just sit tight. There’s a blanket back there. Cover yourselves up.”

“I’ll tend to the children,” said Mrs. Dunphy. “Now, go on.”

He swore again, slammed the car door and trudged out into the snow.

Mrs. Dunphy sat in the front seat crying and mumbling. Emma couldn’t tell if she was angry with her husband, the weather or them. She felt guilty. It was her fault they were stuck on the side of the road during a blizzard in a car without heat. She gave Mikey a reassuring smile as she pulled the scratchy woolen blanket up to their chins.

In late February, Emma’s family moved to another part of town. The children had to switch schools. She had a problem adjusting to her new classroom. Emma didn’t like the teacher and missed her friends. On the fourth day, she refused to go back.

After several attempts at bribery, a lot of coaxing, pleading and begging, her parents gave in. Emma’s father arranged for both children to go back to their old school for the remainder of the year. Since her dad traveled and her mother didn’t drive, they went by taxi. Mrs. Dunphy and her husband volunteered to drive them home.

The door opened. A gust of wind blew snow into the front seat. Mr. Dunphy got in the car and tried again. The vehicle lurched forward then rolled back into the ruts several times. He cursed some more, grabbed a snowbrush, got back out and cleared the windshield.

Mrs. Dunphy stopped crying. She didn’t seem angry anymore. “Hang on children. I think it’s going to work this time.”

Her husband got back in the car, yelled, “Here we go,” and hit the gas. The tires squealed and spun, as the Studebaker inched its way back onto the roadway. Mr. Dunphy had to drive ten miles an hour the rest of the way, but he managed to keep the car on the road.

Emma would never forget that long ride home.

Author Notes

14 Comments for “The Long Ride Home”

Tim Hillebrant


Hi Lina,

As a red blooded, been-there-done-that American Male, take it from me- if you can rock it, you can move it. I’ve been there both as a kid, and as a dad with my family. In Idaho, opportunities for that kind of thing happen a lot from October thru April. LOL

Well done bit of writing here. Glad the kids got home okay. And great depiction of the family, the kids, and their teacher and her husband. Nicely done in a short amount of words.



Thank you, Tim. It was typical of driving in New England winters in the ’50’s. A little different now with the way the roads are treated and the AWD vehicles, but the snowstorms are still around. LOL


Raymond Tobaygo


Good morning, Lina

Enjoyed. Reminded me back in the day of being stuck with my parents and brothers, (minus the swearing).

Take care and stay safe,


charles stone


Hmm. A cute story, I liked the backstory but for me it ended abruptly.
I would have liked to read more about the long ride. Write on.

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