In the Good Ol' Summertime - Porches



I seriously cannot remember a summer with any of my grandparents where the porch didn't figure prominently in memory.

Granny's favored seating area was on a side porch, where people tended to come if they weren't family.  She kept four chairs on that porch  and a handy set of stackable chairs just inside the door.  Also  just inside that front door was a stack of hand held paper fans.  These were mostly passed out by some local funeral service and featured photos of  guardian angels holding infants from tumbling over a cliff...you know lighthearted themes like that.

Granny's porch happened to be on the shady side of the house and overlooked her garden and flower beds.  This only added to the ambience of the porch.  It was always peaceful there and I say truly I spent many and many an hour on the porch with her as a child and as an adult.  Many of my deepest life problems were sorted out and many a heart ache soothed there.



Granny always had a pitcher of tea ready to be served to her guests and it was always the most perfect refreshment.

Big Mama had a front porch that was screened in.  I think the sound of a screen door squawking open and squealing shut just before it slams is a homey sort of sound.   Big Mama's porch had a line of rocking chairs, solid wood ones.  They looked to be handmade but I'm not sure if they were.  The sort I'm talking of were commonly sighted on many a farmhouse front porch.  They were solid and usually painted white.  The paint almost always had a chalky finish that dusted your clothing.

Big Mama's porch overlooked her garden as well which was usually flourishing and at one end was a huge gardenia bush.  I recall one year a robin nested in the Nanadina bush by her screen door and we had the best time watching those little birds open their tiny yellow beaks and reveal a wide orange throat that opened hopefully at the slightest sound.

Grandmama and Grandaddy's porches too were made for sitting.  Theirs generally had  some sort of metal chairs and they were the sort that sank low in the back when you sat down.  They bounced nicely once you got over the shock of sinking so very low.   Grandmama and Grandaddy generally sat on the porch after dark.  It was lovely to sit on the dark porch, usually with a pan of green beans that needed snapping or a bushel of peas to shell out.  Along about 10pm Grandmama would disappear into the house and return bearing cups of ice milk, usually vanilla flavored with a drizzle of Hershey's syrup over the top.  Grandaddy would tell stories and talk of family history on those evenings.

I think what was missing from my childhood homes with Mama and Daddy was the porch.  Not one of the houses we lived in had one.

When I lived in the house I loved best, there was a porch which I filled with flowering plants each summer and filled with seating.  My furnishings were those bent willow pieces that were uncomfortable as could be but looked lovely and rustic.  I learned rather quickly that I could use a folded quilt to soften the seats of those chairs.

It didn't look like much from the outside that porch.  It was built of concrete blocks and had a concrete floor.  It was just a flat roofed thing.   One year we gave away the established shrubbery about the house.  After the shrubs were gone you could see the former porch outlines on the house.  It must have been lovely at one time, but I was very happy with the porch I had.

It wasn't until we moved here that I had another porch.  The front porch is not small but it's not very useful.  The front steps are inset and that eats up a good deal of floor space.  But it is shaded by the Faith tree and there is generally a breeze of some sort.  The porch is on the east side of the house so in evening it is especially pleasant.

We added a cover and new railings to our back deck and that too is a pleasant porch.  It's been a wonderful addition to our home and we've never regretted the money spent on it.  On summer mornings I enjoy it as a place to sit and study or to have a lovely breakfast...

I think a porch is lovely...

12 comments:

Kathy said...

I enjoyed your porch memories. I'm glad your grandparents had porches.
It makes me want to use our porch more. I love sitting in our porchswing during a rainstorm. Our back deck faces west, and it gets so hot there, that I don't like to eat out which is a shame.

Debby in KS said...

A screened-in porch was on my list of dream items for a house. Didn't get it. Didn't even get much of a porch in front! It's tiny, not even room for a single chair. Since we've been out looking at different houses, I find myself saying, "this one is perfect to screen in the porch."

Nearly everyone I knew had them when I was growing up. I loved sitting in them and watching the rain pour off the patio roof in the backyard. Or sleeping out there when a friend spent the night. My friend had a screen house in her backyard by the pool. It was a perfect place to have lunch when we were all wet from the swimming pool. Shaded and with a constant breeze.

If we do end up downsizing, I WILL have my porch one way or the other!! It doesn't have to be a luxury porch. I'll be happy with a cement floor and rough edges.

Little Penpen said...

Beautiful porch memories! I wanted a porch too, but my current home only has an entryway, not large enough for a chair. I do sometimes sit on the front steps for a few minutes. My back door has no porch either, but we have a little patio, which gets hot this time of year. I'm currently making plans to decorate and make it my porch area, as it feels pretty nice in the late afternoons.

Anonymous said...

Porches of every style were part of my childhood too. My grandparents on one side had three. Front back and side. Each separate. The front porch on their Victorian cottage was small. Basically only had two metal glider chair. Oh but they were comfortable. We thought of them as Grandpa's and when he was there one was his throne. The front of the house looked out to the cobble stone street with its slate sidewalks. When I was small the street car still went by daily. My Grandfather used to take the donkeys out of the back shed and hitch them up each morning to deliver milk. Naturally the donkeys knew the route as well as Grandpa did I was told. That though was before my time. Out behind the shed was the alley that led to the general store with its screen door with metal advertisement wide handle that slapped shut when you entered and the bell above it rang. It had pop in the Coke metal ice container where floating glass bottles of pop was waiting your 5c.
The back long wood porch had only a wooden swing on the one end and occasionally a wooden chair. Can't you hear the clang of the chains on those porch swings to this day. You could sit {or nap} on the swing and listen to the talk inside the house through the open window. On the brick wide sill of that window at times sat a pie cooling or the makings of the thick cream like caraway cheese my Grandmother made. That swing always had a padding on the seat of an old blanket and a thin one laid on it for anyone who wanted to use it when they napped. The back screen door there had two wood handles. One low for the kids and one high for the grownups. This porch looked out to the back yard and garden and shed beyond.
The side porch was seldom used. But each day like the others it got a good brooming to get the coal dust off of it. So that house had three doors into it not counting the cellar door in back. I still have the old keys to it. That house houses so many special memories. Family pictures from the 1900s were taken on those porches cause you could line the whole extended family on the porch or steps.
My other Grandparents had enclosed the small front porch and built graduating shelves on one part of it. They were used it to display the African violets my Grandmother sold along with her collection of bird nests she loved. It had been added on to the tiny log cabin when they moved into it when Grandpa retired. This porch had a door but it was never locked. To get into the house you used the wood bird knocker Grandpa made to let them know you were there IF they had the house locked.
We had a front and back porch. We used tit all the time but mostly to play on. It had been used for hours of Jack playing kids card games and playing school and doll hospitals and house and anything our imaginations could conger up. :) July 4th we would light the "pills" that when lit turned into smokey black worms and put 'caps' into the mental rocket like toys and throw them down to get a big bang or put the caps in our cap guns to make noises. Those steps launched many a kid wearing metal skates too or hula hoop contests..later the new thing on the block...skate boards!!
Our little back porch was screened in and came right off the kitchen. Mom would hang a few clothe out on it on rainy days and we would hang our doll clothe to dry too. Sit there to cool off from the kitchen temperature on a hot day. it over looked the back yard with its playhouse and garden. Dad built the playhouse with the help of the neighborhood boys. They earned a Boy Scout badge doing it. Better close!! Sarah

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

I love porches too. We totally enjoy our porch.. We spend alot of time out there.. And eat lots of lunches [sandwich,etc] out there..
Enjoyed hearing about the porches in your life. Have a great week

Lana said...

The porch or outdoor space it the thing I always look for when we have looked at downsizing houses. Here we have a large screen porch with a long table for 10 and adjacent to that is 900 sq feet of deck. We live outside in the summer. Nice evenings find us outside as the sun goes down and watching the fireflies come out in the woods while we swing on the swing. I cannot imagine living without all this outdoor space.

My Mom's parents had porches and the last one was almost right on the street right in the middle of town. In the evening the neighbors would walk past and stand on the sidewalk and visit. Banana Popsicles were always a part of those evenings.

Karla Neese said...

Add me to the list of those who love porches, and who dream of having a screened-in porch. We have a front porch that needs replacing but it has no roof because we aren't allowed to have them in our park. A bunch of people built them when they started moving in and the park made them tear them down. Sad.

I don't sit on my porch much because it's so darned hot - there is no where to go from the sun, no shade tree, no awning of any kind and when you sit in front of a white metal building, it can become downright scorching!

I do have a glider rocker that I bought off craigsist - I'd like to make my own cushions for it but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I can't think of any home I lived in growing up that had a porch either. How odd. Nor a garage - ever.

olderandwiser said...

Wow, thanks for bringing back those porch memories! My grandparents had a lattice porch in the back of their house where they kept their freezer. In the front was a small porch with some of those metal chairs that have the seashell looking backs. I remember after dinner in the summers my grandma and mother would go into the kitchen to clean up and my dad and granddad would sit on the front porch and talk while my sister and I would catch fireflies in the yard. All was right with the world back then.

Deanna Piercy said...

Another porch-lover here. We are fortunate to have a large, shady front porch. We also have a large balcony off our bedroom (the porch is below it) and a nice-size covered patio out back. We hope to re-do our balcony soon - it needs new siding and railings - and I'm petitioning to screen it in. My husband is a mosquito magnet so I don't often get him to sit outside with me but I love it.

Terri Cheney said...

Y'all make me so happy sharing all of your memories of porches from your pasts. Thank you so much! I can just feel the rhythm of time changing inside me when I read of your porch memories.

Karla, I can well imagine how unpleasant that porch would be. I only ever really used our deck in the winter because it was a sunny warm spot then...I like it much better as a porch but we don't use it in the evenings because the western sun really hits it hard, but it's awfully nice mornings and middays.

Kay said...

Can you stand one more porch comment? ;) My childhood home only had stoops front and back. Perhaps as you said, that is why my family (parents/siblings) is so disfunctional now? Both of my grandmothers' homes had porches. My paternal grandma used a wringer washer on their back side porch in the summer which is where I learned to use one. Good thing because I had to use one here when we first moved here in 1987 (believe it or not). It was a shady place to play and sit, overlooking her veg garden. My maternal grandmother lived in 5 houses during my growing up years and all had a front porch. I loved them all but remember the 3rd & 4th the best. The 3rd had a tall stump next to it we could climb and a large spirea bush we played under. The 4th had a chokecherry vine/bush on the end that made this western-facing porch shaded.
Our first house in the country did not have a porch and I so wished for one. However my in-laws did and now I do! It faces north and does get a bit warm on hot days without a breeze. But we enclosed it several years ago and added outlets 2 years ago so I can use a fan whenever I need to. My back porch was enclosed long ago by Farmer's grandparents and it houses shelves of my extra small appliances and the recycling bins. It gets too warm and too cold for real living but it overlooks the gully and I'd love to open it a bit more for comfortable use. Off of it would be the perfect place for a covered deck (or uncovered as far as that goes) so I could have my gas grill off the kitchen instead of on the walkout patio (access from the basement.)
Speaking of that, it's not a porch but my patio is on the east side and is shady in the evening. Unfortunately I'm spoiled by my enclosed porch where the bugs & cats are not allowed, so I rarely use it. It makes a good place to pot up plants & clean garden produce.
This has been a fun post/comments.

Tammy said...

I have decks on the front and back of the house and enjoy decorating with plants and garden junk, but neither is good for sitting much of the day. Both are in full sun. I have requested covered porches, but those are on the list for "who knows when". :)
When I was five years old, we moved to the house we lived in until I was 17. That house had a front porch that my mother never decorated, but provided a play space for my sister and I. We drug our little table and chairs out there, along with boxes and blankets, and set up our own little "home" and played grown-ups or school. Many, many hours spent doing that.
There was a patio on the east side of the house with the gas grill and a few lawn chairs, so I would sit out there and read when the weather was nice.
One set of grandparents had a front porch. I want to say they had a porch swing when I was little, but I mostly remember the glider with a car bench seat so it was cushy. Not the prettiest thing, but it was comfortable.

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