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That Old Front Porch
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Ramblings of an Old Man:
That Old Front Porch
How can you not have a front porch? It amazes me as to how many houses have only a small slab of concrete, about four by six feet, for a front porch! Growing up we had “BIG” wooden porches, like six or eight feet by twenty feet! Porches were very useful and practical years ago, because we had fewer distractions and means of amusement. Front porches were gathering places for friends, neighbors, relatives, or even for sweethearts swinging in a swing, if you were fortunate enough to have one!
And then there was the ever popular metal shell chairs. The back was like one of those sea shells that looked like a fan spread open. You could even rock in them, a little, and they were fairly comfortable, just don’t rock “too close” to the edge of the porch! Porches were usually about three feet off the ground where we lived. Back then, you didn’t have many houses with air-conditioning, instead we had those big old box fans that you would stick into the windows, and hope for a breeze to blow through the house! So, it was the heat that would drive you out to the porch.
Porches were useful all day long. During the day, they were perfect bike stands! You would fly through the yard parallel to the porch, and then lean over against the steps and dismount in one quick motion, and then straight into the house for a nice tall cold glass of water. Yes, water! We did not guzzle pop back then like kids do now, and we didn’t even know we were doing the “healthy thing” at the time. But porches were also great in the late afternoon, and into the evening hours. You could sit and watch the sunset, and if you were lucky, you would have a nice breeze to cool you off from the long, hot Summer day.
We would even have musical entertainment, brought to you by our Creator in the form of crickets, and maybe a hoot owl in the background, and if you lived close to a pond or lake, you would be graced with the serenade of the bullfrogs! Often a simple sound or smell will take me back to those simpler times of childhood when we didn’t have much, and yet we wanted for nothing. We didn’t have to have all the latest gadgets, we had all the outdoors as a playground, and an imagination that could keep us busy for hours, taking us to places we hoped to some day travel to, or to return to places we had already been .
You didn’t have much in the way of television back then, usually only three stations, or five, if you were in the right location and no storms in the area! And, there were no remotes, you had to actually get up out of the chair or floor, and PHYSICALLY change the channel…by hand!! “Phew”, what a workout! Worse if you had no kids to do it for you. Maybe that is why we were a lot more physically fit back then? In the Summer you only had reruns to watch, so usually you would end up out on the front porch, unless they were reruns of the classics, such as Red Skelton, or Jackie Gleason!
Sometimes you would sit for hours out there on that old front porch, taking in God’s wonderful creation. There were always birds to watch, some times a squirrel or two, or a rabbit, and plenty of cats meowing in the background. Quite often your attention was drawn to a car horn blowing from a passing neighbor, friend, relative, or at times, you would just nod or wave at a total stranger, just because that was the polite thing to do, back then any way. We were taught differently, we were taught respect, politeness, and to do unto others as you would want them to do to you, just like the “Good Book” says.
Michael Walsh, a writer for the Cincinnati Enquire, made several good comments in an article he wrote about front porches being gone in today’s world. He stated that the demise of the front porch is the least mentioned and probable account, for a rise in crime over the years. Michael talked about the Neighborhood Watch signs being of little value if we are all inside, or out in the backyard grilling. We have turned our backs on the streets and we are now paying the price. There are times when “the good old days” should be more than just memories of our past. Maybe they should be rekindled and brought back to life in our present day; just a thought from one with fond memories of that “old front porch”!
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