Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Simpler Times - The Front Porch

by Cindy Hester

Laughter, togetherness, security, joy, conversation, the sweet smell of honeysuckle mixed with freshly cut grass...each of these come to mind when I think about the hours spent on my grandparents’ front porch.


Days were filled with work. There were meals to cook, gardens to tend, cows to milk, and hospital and home visits to be made (my grandfather Moore was a minister, you know.) There were corn, greens, peas, tomatoes and berries to be picked, potatoes to dig, flower gardens to hoe, marriages to perform, and people to bury (again, the preacher.) There were peas to shell, corn to shuck, and vegetables to can.


Paw Paw and Maw Maw Moore's Front Porch
 At the end of the day when work was done and the sun began to set came the most anticipated time of the day...sitting together on the front porch. The evening usually began with us watching the Martin birds flitting in and out of the birdhouses my Paw Paw Moore was notorious for building. If my sister and I had been particularly helpful that day, we would be lucky enough to be sipping on an Orange Crush soda we had earned, or eating the most delicious, refreshing orange pineapple ice cream from the corner store.

Often we sat quietly listening to the crickets chirp and watching fireflies dance to their songs. Not far into the evening, the sound of Mrs. Abbott’s piano playing drifted past the trees from her house a ways down the road. Even as a young child I can remember the stirring I felt in my heart as the melody of “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” pierced the deepest corners of my soul. My Paw Paw Moore would sing along in his smooth, baritone voice. It was beautiful, and somehow I knew this involved more than mere music.



Paw Paw and Maw Maw Hood's Front Porch

At my Maw Maw and Paw Paw Hood’s house, evenings began with Paw Paw coming outside after dinner, the smell of Dial soap on his freshly washed skin (they were lucky enough to already have indoor plumbing.) I can still hear Maw Maw whistling while she finished washing the last of the night’s dishes. Paw Paw would walk over to the covered tin pot which hung from the eave of the porch, fill the water dipper, and quench his lingering thirst with a long slow drink of water.

He would then move to his chair, kick up his feet, and every now and then he would take a bag of tobacco and a paper wrapper, roll a cigarette, and take a few puffs. I can just see his silhouette sitting in that metal rocker in his undershirt and kakis and every so often seeing the red tip of his cigarette reminding me of those fireflies.

Maw Maw Hood, having finished the dishes, would come outside, give “Arch” an earful for smoking in front of us girls and move to one of the swings on either end of the porch. He would usually take one more puff, put the cigarette out, then chuckling under his breath gently remind us girls we should never smoke. I can remember lying on the porch swing staring at the stars giggling inside even though I was really too young to understand what the fuss was all about.

Porches were not only for nighttime. There were hot afternoons spent playing “Go Fish” and going through an old trunk containing treasures from the past with Maw Maw Hood. Then there were days sitting listening to the radio with Maw Maw Moore singing along to Bobby Sherman singing “Julie, Julie, Julie, do you love me?” and playing paper dolls (cut from the Montgomery Ward catalogue no less!)



My Mom and Aunt Wayne telling secrets on Aunt Wayne's front porch.



Porches were for shelling peas, shucking corn, and telling secrets. Most important, porches were where relationships thrived, and memories took shape. Perhaps Rochlin said it best in his book, Home, Sweet Home....” Nobody thought much about the front porch when most Americans had them and used them. The great American front porch was just there, open and sociable, an unassigned part of the house that belonged to everyone and no one, a place for family and friends to pass the time." I think I’m going to make it a point to spend a little less time watching television, and a little more time on my porch making memories with my grandbabies.
Good times visiting on the front porch at my sisters house.




True Freedom

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