Front Porch Pastimes

The front porch served as a stage for family entertainment, churning butter, and a place to enjoy a summer rainstorm on the porch swing.

| January/February 2016

  • The front porch was a place to watch storms pass.
    Illustration by Dennis Auth
  • Front porches served as a popular hangout for kids and adults.
    Illustration by Dennis Auth

Families today, including mine, often have a deck attached to the back of their homes. The deck in my backyard surrounds a gorgeous dogwood tree, which is set in an open box. This is the place for picnics, fun and games with family and friends. Sitting back in my lounge chair, it can also be a place of contemplation or relishing in the beauty of nature and the surrounding trees.

This modern deck of mine brings forth the wonderful memories of my childhood deck, and in those days it was called “the porch.” Our porch was attached to the front of the house, and it was as wide as the house itself. It had a simple wooden railing painted white and trimmed in dark green.

This porch was not just a place to sit. It had a variety of purposes. It was a vast playground in the eyes of a child, even a place to do some kitchen chores. A place to wave at friendly neighbors who drove by. It was a place to entertain and visit with family and friends, and a refuge for the dogs and cats.

On the far side of the porch where there was no railing, we fed the dogs and cats on a stone slab nearby. We usually had only two dogs – a Saint Bernard and a small Terrier – but we had many, many cats. The porch was the place for these animals to take their naps throughout the day. My favorite cat was an Angora. I called her Dimble. Like all cats, Dimble loved throat strokes, while I was content listening to her soothing purrs.

It was not only an animal porch, it was a people porch. On hot, icky summer days, my parents would entertain guests and their children here. My mother always had fresh lemonade or mint tea from her garden on hand. Whatever was in season – from berries to melons – there was an ample supply to feed everyone.

If it was just my siblings or friends and me, the porch became a roller rink. Gliders and porch chairs were carried into the yard to provide more space. The skates were those metal flats that clipped onto the shoes, and a key could adjust the skates to fit any kid’s shoe. Oh could we fly! Back and forth, back and forth.

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