Saturday, May 2, 2009

Front Porches 1940 Circa

My brother, Billy, prompted my memory about our porches when we were boys. This Cotton Patch column is a compilation of both of our memories of just what role porches played in our youth.
Porches are has-beens, written about by many, but not carried forth into our lives today, but even more so wherein our children and grandchildren are concerned. Porches played such a huge role in our lives and I am proud to say that we have a front porch today, because we bought an old house over a hundred years old in 1972. If we had built a house in 1972, it probably would have had a front stoop on it, not to be confused with a front porch.
Porches were a mainstay in people’s lives.
“I remember Daddy and Mister Bob Lee sitting on the metal glider chairs on the front porch where they visited,” Billy said. Our mother painted the chairs frequently to keep the appearance of them good.
“Front porches,” Billy said, “were a nice place for people to sit and enjoy a cold glass of iced tea or lemonade. Furthermore, Mother shelled peas or butter beans, or shucked fresh corn.”
It was cool enough to enjoy, because Mother hung strings from the edge of the roof to the floor of the porch and completed the home made shade-maker by attaching kudzu to the bottom. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long before it was closed in from the afternoon setting of the sun.
The front porch was the spot where the Macon News landed; we enjoyed lying on our stomachs while reading the comics and sports page.
People walked by casually waving or speaking. Some even came up to set a spell.
“I remember people coming up on our porch at night,” Billy said, “knocking on the door; some were tipsy from strong drink, while others were lost or looking for directions.”
We both have painful memories of the po-leece shooting two of our dogs which we had tied underneath the front porch. One of our homes had two front doors coming out to the porch. One door was numbered 202 and the other was numbered 204. Really! I couldn’t make that up.
Oh, the memories flood our minds thinking of that front porch which was bombarded on Valentine night with hearts and rocks—the rocks made the noise to alert us that the Valentines had arrived.
Mother would feed hobos from the edge of the front porch when they came looking for a hand out.
Some people extended their front porch out under the old oak tree where stories were shared and laughter enjoyed.
In those days, the front porch and the back porch had totally different functions—the front being for visiting as noted above—and the back porch was for work. On the back porch was a wringer washing machine including accessory tubs for rinsing. In the yard was a clothes line for drying the clothes by wind and sunlight.
On the back porch at Grandma's house, she had a shallow well where we drew water for our showers, one standing beneath a shelf while the other brother tilted the five gallon jug on its side for a very cold shower.
Brrr! The glory days of porches!

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