The Front Porch   


When I was growing up in the 1940’s in a tiny town in the middle of the United States, a lot of summer life was spent porch sittin’ and it was done for various reasons.

In the first place, we didn’t have air conditioning back then and the porch was the coolest place to be on a hot summer day.

Then there was the opportunity to call out a hello to neighbors and friends as they passed our house going to the grocery store and the post office.  This was the most common way to get the current news. Only a handful of people in our town had a telephone and most of those were for business.  People went to the store and post office to collect the daily news as much as for milk or mail.  If we had news in our family to pass along, the birth of a baby, the illness of a family member, a lost pet, new puppies that would be weaned in 6-8 weeks, all of it got passed along and when the neighbor got to the store everyone in earshot heard the latest happenings at our house – – – and told their own which got brought back to us as the neighbor went back home.

There were chores, sometimes, that we carried out on the front porch.  We sat there to snap beans or shell peas and anyone who happened along would cheerfully pick up a few beans or peas and snap or shell with us while the news got told.

After supper, sittin’ on the porch took on a whole different feel. That is when we watched the first fire-flies (though we called them lightening bugs) and listened to the crickets tuning up.  It is where I was introduced to the Milky Way, the Big Dipper,  and the Evening Star. And this is where I introduced my kids to them.

Oh those wonderful days when Mom would stir up the makings of ice cream and pour it into the ice cream freezer and we kids would take turns turning the crank until the mixture froze into ice cream. Oh the goodness of fresh ice cream on the front porch on a hot summer night!

ice cream freezer

It was such a tiny town,  and very few owned an automobile, we would often count the cars that went by in a certain period of time and lay bets of our labor on the outcome. “If more than ten come by I’ll do dishes for you tomorrow night.”  That sort of thing.

This particular time of the year brings swarms of porch sittin’ memories to mind as I see four o’clocks begin to bloom (Mom always had them on either side of the front sidewalk) see lightening bugs blinking on and off at dusk, or get to longing for homemade ice cream at the end of a busy day.  

And oh, the porch I got to sit on!  It was, and is, a dream of a porch just made for sittin’! The picture at the bottom of this article is the house I grew up in and that porch was just exactly right.

Did you ever do any porch sittin’?

Hatcher Hinshaw House