Tuesday, July 24, 2018
On The Porch
Some of my fondest memories are of sitting on the porch. Some are not quite as fond .
From the time I can remember I would sit on the porch listening to the grown-ups laughing and telling family stories. They were all fascinating to me even if I had heard them before.
Grandpa would light his pipe. He was a quiet man but once in a while he had a good story to tell.
Great-grandpa with his leprechaun (or so I thought) voice had some good family stories. I thought he was talking about the "old country" but he was not. He came to the United States when he was a baby after his mother died. He was talking about growing up in Nebraska.
The one I really loved to listen to was Uncle Harold. His voice was hypnotic. I could listen to him all day.
Great-uncle Elmer was called Unc. He also told good stories and was almost as good as Uncle Harold.
After the kitchen was cleaned the women would join the men on the porch and the talk turned more to family things. There would also be more than one conversation at a time. Sometimes confusing.
While the other kids were off playing I could be found sitting quietly on the porch listening. I knew better than to join in because they would shoo me away.
It was all so tranquil. Sometimes we would all just sit and watch the sun go down.
I was about 5 years old. My mother gave me permission to walk to the end of the street to play with my friend who was a little older. No one was home there so I decided to wait. I was enjoying my freedom.
To amuse myself I jumped off the steps of her porch. First I stepped onto the first step and jumped to the sidewalk. Then I went to the second step and jumped off. One step at a time I jumped and climbed one more step to jump from.
I made it to the top and began in reverse. First to the top step then the next from the top. At the next to the top step I saw my friend's mother pull her car into the driveway. I waved happily and jumped.
Unfortunately I landed in the grass instead of on the sidewalk. There wa a broken fruit jar there. I landed on a piece of it with my hand.
It was a deep cut so my friend walked me home. Mom stopped the bleeding and bandaged me right up. I still have an ugly scar on the heel of my hand.
My youngest sister was afraid of everything. The vacuum cleaner, the blender, basically anything that made a loud noise. Usually my mother and I teamed up. One of us would vacuum while the other held my sister close. The screaming was not as loud.
The lawn mower fascinated her. She was terrified when Daddy or one of my brothers would start it up. But she liked to watch it cut the grass. Go figure.
Once we were at Grandma's and the boys were going to mow the lawn while Daddy supervised. The lawn mower roared to life and my sister screamed for her life.
I quickly grabbed her and ran through Grandma's house and onto the screened in porch. I held my sister tightly. She contentedly watched the rest of the process.
On rainy days we played on our porch. Jacks were fun as long as we played where the ball could not bounce out into the rain. Board games were played or maybe I would just lean back with a good book.
Grandma and Grandpa had a porch that went from the front of their house all the way around one side. Part of it was screened which I found so luxurious. There was actually old furniture to sit on. I liked playing out there even in the winter. Grandma let me because I did not track snow into her kitchen.
I have a picture from the early 1950's that I really like. We were at Uncle Gerald's house. We had taken Grandma with us. After we ate we all went to the porch to relax.
It was obviously a hot day. All of us were looking wilted and squinting at the sun. There we all are sitting on the porch. I have no idea who took the picture because no one is missing.
When I was grown and had my own family I liked having a porch. At one house on a busy street my porch was sort of small. It had room for my three old wooden rocking chairs though. I would sit and watch my children play in the afternoons.
I could see the neighbor with his friends all sitting at a table in their front yard. They would drink and talk about mechanical things.
I watched our dog race motorcycle riders who drove by.
One day a neighbor child came to play. He would only play with one of my sons at a time. He tried to pit them against each other which upset me but I tried to let them work it out.
One day he decided to play with my oldest son. My second son was fine with it. He was watching ants climb a tree. The neighbor kid started to yell at my second son to try to start a fight between my sons.
My son tore himself away from his ants. He stood and watched the neighbor. I was behind my son but I saw him cock his head to one side. Then he cocked his head to the other side as if he was trying to solve a puzzle.
All of a sudden as the neighbor was still yelling my son just reached out and punched him. First the kid had a shocked look on his face. Then he started to screasym. Even though he was older than either of my boys he ran home crying.
The thing about my children is that they may fight with each other but no one else is allowed to. Both my boys took off after the kid. He made it home safely because he had a good head start.
One day the kids and I were coming home from the store. I was tired and looking forward to relaxing on the porch. I saw a car with some rocking chairs in the trunk. I mentioned that I would like some more rockers for the porch.
When we got home I discovered that I had seen my rockers driving away!
I was visiting my youngest son. My grandchildren were out playing while us adults were just sitting around talking.
My granddaughter came in. Very shyly she said, "Grandma, I smell rain in the air. Do you want to come on the porch and watch it with me?" Of course I did! It was a glorious rain.
My second son's wife and I were sitting on the porch late one afternoon. My sons were messing with a car. As we were talking my sons suddenly and without a word walked past us and went into the house.
After the surprise of it was over I began to laugh. My daughter-in-law looked at me like I was crazy.
I had to explain. The street lights had just turned on. When they were younger the rule was that when the street lights come on they were to come in the house. It was just a habit.
My children are now in their 40' and 50's and they still go in when the streetlights come on.
See what a joy a porch can be?