There was no fare charged to hop into Mrs. Maguire’s Taxi. Her youngest son Danny used to save me a seat in the back. It was a station wagon with strips of wood on its’ doors, and one of those back seats that faced outside the back window.
If I needed a ride to a dance or a ball game, I arrived at the Maguire home, teeming with kids, and climbed into the back directly to my seat.
Those were the days before seat-belts, and many other kids climbed into the car after our driver counted the heads of her own children, careful in guarding her charges.
I remember the clatter of football gear as Mrs. M swerved around corners often appearing to do so on only two wheels. She sang aloud with the windows open letting her wispy red hair go back and forth like a pendulum.
My Aunt Judy never let me open the windows in her car, because it would mess up her hair. She was good to me and all, and I loved her, but the rides with Mrs. Maguire were much more fun.
Mrs. Maguire would tell us stories when her son Thomas had an away game, never faltering in her delivery, as if she told tales for a living. Some of us would ask for ghost stories, but she wouldn’t comply saying the divil as she pronounced it could get into one of those and not let go.
I was a pretty literal kid and at night before sleep I tried to picture the devil, horns and all, getting into a ghost story. The way I saw it, if Mrs. Maguire thought something was true, she was probably right.
In the middle of Aunt Judy’s engagement dinner, I popped up from the table, hiding my tears, needing to get away from Earl, Judy’s fiancé, when he spoke ill of Mrs. Maguire.
“Why are you letting little Ellen drive around with that madwoman Maguire?” he said, causing my mother to stiffen and purse her lips.
“They are a fine family, as are we, Earl,” my mother said in that voice that scared me more than the devil in ghost stories. The ghost stories that I never heard and haven’t enjoyed since.
Although her kids tried to shush her, Mrs. Maguire loved to tell the story of how she met the Mister, as she often called him.
“Came straight to me from heaven, he did, although my father wasn’t convinced of that.
Dad told me to wait until I was older but when it’s right, it’s right, isn’t that so, Ellen?”
To think she recognized me from the back of my head.
I loved when she picked me out of the crowd in her car, knowing I would never shush her or her stories.
“Yes, Mrs. Maguire,” I would say, “When it’s right, it’s right,” bursting with pride that she liked me. It pleased me that she loved her husband and I hoped to find a love like that when I grew up.
Aunt Judy’s eyes didn’t light up around Earl, and I worried that she wouldn’t enjoy the kind of happiness Mrs. Maguire shared with us.
As it turned out, Aunt Judy broke her engagement to Earl, and when she picked me up for a dental visit, she advised me to take my time in matters of love.
“How will I know,?” I asked her accepting the closed window to my right, eager for her answer. She hesitated and so I said, “When it’s right it’s right?”
“Yes, dear Ellen. You always were a smart kid.”
I hated that she was disappointed, but felt there was a guy out there like Mr. Maguire for her. And there was.
Uncle Rich filled her life with joy, and my mother never got that scary tone around him.
Nor did my mother scowl or frown when I introduced my fiancé, Paul Miller, who captured my heart from the moment he approached me on campus. I felt lucky to know him let alone be lucky enough to raise three daughters with him.
As it turned out, I became the mom who drove extra kids to soccer and ballet. They were strapped into their seat-belts leaving less room for extras as in the days of Mrs. Maguire’s taxi.
During a long drive to a soccer game, my daughter Courtney’s friend Amber said,
“ Mrs Miller, how did you meet Courtney’s Dad?”
I hesitated for a moment and said, “Came straight to me from heaven, he did.”
There was a strange hush that entered the vehicle and I felt it was a visit from Mrs. Maguire’s spirit…not that I believe in spirits or ghosts.
Edith Gallagher Boyd is a graduate of Temple University and a former French teacher. Her work can be found here: edithgallagherboyd.com