It extended across the entire front of the grey frame craftsman style duplex that I grew up in. Only three items sat on it: a white glider with thick cushions covered in a dark green and white print, a square metal milk box that would magically spawn half gallon bottles of Borden milk overnight, and a sturdy recycled rubber welcome mat. The porch was where I hung out for at least eight months out of the year, spending countless hours doing all kinds of kid stuff. I loved that brick and concrete porch.
It was a de facto, open air play room where we staged Monopoly marathons, battled each other in War, devoured the latest comic books (the “Archies” were my favorite – I coveted Veronica’s hair), vied to outscore one another at jacks, crammed our mouths with Bazooka Joe bubble gum to blow the ultimate bubble, split Hostess Twinkies between us (and yes, we scooped the cream out with our fingers), and a host of other sedentary pastimes. Boisterous activities involving running, jumping, throwing things, catching things, or riding things were relegated to locations away from the house – and out of Mom’s earshot.
During the Dog Days of summer the porch served as a retreat from the brunt of the noonday sun. But its deep eaves also created a fine shelter from which to observe fat summer raindrops as they danced on the sidewalk and street. The comfy glider beckoned me to settle in with a good book, or a tablet and pencil to draw pictures, or dolls to dress and undress and dress again, or pocket knives for whittling. It was where we would examine rocks, bottle caps, old coins, supersonic code rings from the Cheerios box, grasshoppers, small toads, and other fascinating things that one could count on the boys to produce from their jeans pockets. (They told me they couldn’t understand how in the world I got along without pockets in so many of the outfits I wore…)
It also served as a viewing gallery as we watched the traffic up and down our street. Seated on the banisters or steps, we counted cars, watched delivery trucks unload at the corner delicatessen, waved at the neighbors as they strolled past our house, and generally connected with the folks who made up our community.
Every so often, mom would transform the porch into a 50’s version of a mini water park. She grabbed a broom and pulled the hose to the front of the house and proceeded to give the porch a thorough cleaning, most likely because of all the accumulated grasshopper guts, Twinkie cream, wood shavings from our whittling, and what-not. We had more fun than penguins on an ice floe once she cranked that nozzle to full force. The best part was not knowing exactly when she would suddenly divert the hose’s aim from the concrete to give one of us a quick blast on the tummy or tush. All the kids got in on the frolicking and squeals and giggles could be heard clear to the next block. Afterwards I couldn’t wait to play on the freshly scrubbed porch – but only after changing out of the soggy duds.
I especially loved the porch after dark. The street lights would cast a warm glow on the sidewalk, the street, and the other houses. Evening was when Dad would have time to sit with me on the glider. It was so relaxing to listen to one of his stories, watch the boys play hide and seek — with the telephone pole in front of our house being home base, or sit and listen to a chorus of crickets. One evening, I took advantage of this special quiet time I was having alone with Dad, and the porch became the setting for the New Smoker’s Lab, which story I tell in an earlier post, Warning – Smoking Can Cause…
Fast forward fifty years or so and I’m still hanging out on the porch. About ten years ago my husband and I bought an old craftsman style house – grey frame, at that – with a brick and concrete porch that extends across the entire front of the house. Who says you can’t go home? And just like before, we enjoy our porch about eight months out of the year.
It’s where you’ll often find us reading a good book, or maybe the Sunday comics, munching snacks (but probably not Twinkies, these days), enjoying conversation, playing games or furthering some aspect of a home improvement project (which explains the paint spatters, saw dust and random bits of drywall also found on the porch. Quick! Someone grab the hose and a broom! We take refuge from the noonday sun, watch the raindrops hit the pavement during a summer downpour from beneath the wide eaves, and listen to crickets chirp in the evenings. We greet neighbors as they stroll by, wave at friends as they slow down and holler out the car window, watch delivery trucks and city buses, and generally connect with the folks who make up our neighborhood.
I still love my porch.