Back in the 1940s and before, houses didn’t have air conditioning. They often had large shady porches where people would sit in the late afternoon and evenings. It was a place to sit and read, drink lemonade, and visit with neighbors.
Neighbors would call out to each other as they’d walk down the sidewalks or work in their yards. They’d say hello and ask how you were. They might bring you over a bouquet of flowers from their garden or some vegetables, or maybe even some freshly baked bread or pie.
Porches often had swings or rocking chairs. Folks would often sit and share stories about the family, the olden days and how things used to be. Children often sat or played on the porch or the steps, and would hear these stories without even trying to listen. It was a great way to pass on the family history.
Those days have all but disappeared. Some homes still have porches, but people rarely sit there. When neighbors do go into their yards, there’s hardly time for a leisurely chat. The days of hanging out clothes on a line to dry or spending the day baking are, for the most part, a part of the past.
I read a poem in a 2004 copy of the Good Old Days magazine where Marian Washburn nostalgically remembered the old front porches that used to wrap around houses. She spoke of rocking chairs and children’s toys, and a place where kids could play on a rainy day. She also told of young lovers who fell in love under the stars on those old porches.
It brings back memories of my childhood. I’m just barely old enough to remember those days. In my earliest years people still sat out on their porches in the late afternoons. I remember the tiny porch my grandfather Angelo Colosi had in Flint, Michigan. It was just big enough for him to build two small bench seats that hung off the black wrought iron rails. There was a small awning overhead.
I often played on that porch. I remember grandpa Angelo sitting with me there during a gentle rain. I remember Mom and my aunt Angela trying to help me see the moon through binoculars as we sat on that front porch one late summer evening. That front porch isn’t there any longer. The house still stands, but there have been many changes since grandpa lived there over 30 years ago. I wish I had a picture of it. The only picture left is the one I can still see in my mind’s eye.