Looking at life from the old family front porch

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

When I was growing up on the family farm, much of our lives seem to revolve around porches. And we had plenty of them.

My grandfather had a lovely red brick porch with graceful arches built on the front of the house. I used to go out there on warm spring and summer Saturdays, after Mama had shampooed my waist-length hair.

With a Popeye ice pop in one hand, and a book in the other, I would stretch out on one of the pillars flanking the front steps. There I’d read, satisfy my sweet tooth and dry my hair, all in one fell swoop.

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On steamy days, the family’s dogs loved to lie on the front porch’s cool brick floor. I liked to play acrobat, weaving in and out of the arches framing the structure. There was a glider, too, a nice place to sit a spell with visitors (when the &uot;skeeters&uot; weren’t too bad).

The side porches weren’t as fancy looking, but they served their purposes, too. The left-hand porch, positioned near the car shelter and Daddy’s workshop, was our real "front door."

It was that porch we dashed onto each afternoon when we arrived home from school,anxious to grab a snack and watch Bugs Bunny cartoons and &uot;I Love Lucy&uot; reruns on TV.

As for the right-hand porch, well – I thought myself very lucky to have a bedroom that opened out onto it. In the summer, I would wake up to look out my window, and see hummingbirds sipping nectar from the trumpeter vines wrapped around the corner porch post. It made me smile.

An old-style washing machine once sat on &uot;my&uot; porch. I would watch Mama and our family friend and helper, Celestine, literally put our family’s dirty clothes through the wringer.

Later, on that same porch, I played for hours with my all-in-one kitchen set, a Christmas gift from Santa himself.

When I first came into the world, those were our three porches. When I was quite small, Daddy decided we should have a fourth. &uot;Everyone needs a back porch," he said.

Daddy was certainly was no carpenter. Still, he gathered the wood, nails and tin and built us a back porch. It wasn’t pretty, not a bit.

It sure came in handy, though. Daddy’s rustic creation, surrounded by shade trees, was a good place to shell peas and snap beans every summer.

Chickens, future fixings for Sunday dinners, were plucked there; pets enjoyed meals and snoozes beneath its tin roof.

Ice cream freezers churned away out back, concocting delicious homemade treats each summer. Watermelons were chilled in the back porch’s big freezer, then split open, liberally sprinkled with salt and eagerly devoured on the porch, so we wouldn’t make a mess in the kitchen.

Daddy’s back porch was a place to sit and cool off with a glass of sweet iced tea after a hot day working on the farm.

My daddy is now a memory; the roof of &uot;my&uot; old porch is long gone. But Daddy’s homely old porch is still there.

Now, it's hard to believe we ever did without it.

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate

and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.