Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Front Porches

Country at HeartAs a child, I can't think of any house that didn't have a front porch, and sometimes, even a back porch. This blog post, however, is about front porches and their rich entertainment, legacy. Now, the house that I lived the longest in had a porch that ran the entire length of the house ... it was quite long.

Now, porches must have some interesting history though I've not taken the time to research their origins. I'll just go with what I know. Our porches were always plain – void of any big comfy chairs, swings, or toys for the kids to tumble over. For a long time, I thought that was the way a porch was supposed to look until I saw some of our neighbors porches.

I suppose a covered, front entryway is actually a porch and does serve some purpose. When someone arrives at your house, it would probably look, seem, and feel odd for them to stand on the steps and the next part of the house is the front door. I can't imagine that, so a porch is a temporary waiting area especially for strangers or neighbors who knock on your door and need a place to stand until the door is opened. This area is also a place for sitting and entertaining and a place where beautiful plants and flowers are displayed. Our porch, during springtime, became a flower show for all the beautiful daffodils I'd picked along the road.

My grandmother's porch was special, and hers was by far my favorite place to hang out. Since Grandma's house sat a little high off the ground, so did her porch. Actually, it was the perfect height for a tall kid (like me) or an adult to perch anywhere on the edge of the porch. So, if it was porch-sitting weather and grandma had us grand kids over and company too, everybody simply made themselves at home on the edges of her stately porch.

While her porch didn't have fancy hanging plants or designer chairs, it did have a large, comfy chair (which my grandfather usually sat in) and a stationary, three-seater that as many of us kids as possible tried to pile into when we visited her house.

And, last but not least, she had another three-seater – a real, live, ready-to-go swing. This was my favorite chair to lounge in while at grandma's. I also liked her porch because it faced the west and on nice, warm sunny days, the evening sun lovingly massaged my back as I sat there enjoying the scenic wood and everything else "country."

By and large, though, the most fun thing I did while sitting in the swing was eat grandma's homemade tea cakes and see how fast and high the swing would go with breaking its chains. I can just see myself swinging back and forth, taking big bites of my cookie, lips smacking, crumbs dropping, and having the time of my life. To say I miss the comfort of front porches is an understatement.

Now, here is my question for you. Is a porch a porch even if it doesn't have a swing? Umm ... perhaps, but I'm not sure it's a "real" porch, but it is a porch, by a loose definition, but one that needs a little sprucing up to bring it up to standard. Now, once the swing is added, then, it becomes my version of a "sure enough" real, down-home, Southern porch.

Photo: Fotolia/schubphoto

6/6/2014 8:20:58 AM

AG, Nebraska porches are a bit different than what you have described. My memory of porches when growing up on the farm was a cross between a sun room and a mud room. Not to much sitting was done on the farm porches. It was a big area to peal off the muddy or dusty boots and clothes before entering the house. It was unheated in the winter and not cooled in the summer but then most farm houses were not air conditioned when I grew up. We used fans to stay cool in the hot summers and most of the day was spent outside anyway. My memories of grandma's house was kitchen memories. Cooking, canning, and baking took up most of her day. My other grandma ran a small town (350 population) restaurant. She was a great cook and had many recipes that were probably not all that good for me but they sure tasted good. I really do like porches but in urban city America the houses built didn't have the charm or the porches of 100 years ago. Some of the older parts of the city where I live do have the porches like you describe but it's in the once elite part of town that is now the run down areas with houses that are over 100 years old. ***** Thanks for jogging good memories and have a great porch memory day.