As a young child, I remember my grandparents reliving tales of the Front Porch. It was a gathering place for all the community. As the sun began to set on the weekend, families came – by foot, or horse or model T. There was a division of seating by age and gender. The young children sat in circles on the floor, playing marbles or jacks. Depending on the season, the women sat on swings and snapped beans, shelled peas or cracked pecans while the men discussed the weather, the crops and the stock market (4 legged stock, that is). Young couples, such as my parents, found shadows on that Front Porch to court and possibly steal a kiss.
As if on an internal clock, all activity stopped on the Front Porch when the window to the parlor was raised and the radio turned up. The toils of everyday life were put aside as the airings of Groucho Marx, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly and Jack Bennny transported them to a lighter time. Pallets were laid down for the children; cigars were lit and lemonade served as the adults sat quietly listening to every word of the Fireside Chat. My mother to the day she died, remembered the exact moment when FDR spoke of “the date which will live in infamy”. Those words changed not only the direction of the country; but also, the dynamics of the Front Porch in that small rural community in Western Kentucky. I have two uncles buried at Pearl Harbor. The traditions shared from that Front Porch are very personal to my family.
Through the years, activities on the Front Porch have certainly changed. Horses and Model T’s gave way to bikes, and personal cars and skate and hover boards. As a young mom, I sat on the porch swing savoring my last cup of coffee as I watched for the school bus. Years later, I anxiously listened for the sound of a car to come up the driveway and the final good night kiss from my daughter’s beau.
The radio is serious now, as in Sirius. Televisions are as large as your imagination and with programs that defy imagination. Entertaining is often potluck but fortunately time honored recipes are still shared from family cookbooks. Lighting is solar or LED rather than by kerosene lanterns. Music is shuffled on your iPod playlist and controlled with Alexi. There is still division of seating by gender and age. The young ones are glued to their smart phones and take selfies to share on social media. The women share weight loss and fashion secrets; but not too many. Men whisper about their jobs, the stock market and their libido.
I’m nostalgic tonight. My mother just passed from this earthly life. She would have been 97 in a few weeks. She kept a journal for the past 77 years. I’m sitting on the Front Porch swing reading her entries and reminiscing. There is no TV on; not even the radio. My dog looks at me with concern and confusion. Do I wish for days when life was simpler and people kinder. Perhaps. As in the days of my grandparents, the Front Porch is still the first room of my home. I take comfort in that as I wait for my family to gather. The Front Porch was where she loved to sit the last few years to watch “the passing”. We will honor her passing as we remember my mom – Meme.