In summer in my childhood, we seldom visited indoors. Oh no! Visits took place outdoors, usually under the shade of a big old tree. It wasn't at all uncommon, nor is it to this day in the South, to see a grouping of chairs or table and chairs under a big shady tree someplace in a yard. Perhaps they are the sort who like to see and be seen, so they set up their seating in the front yard. Perhaps they are more private people but don't have fences and you catch a glimpse, as you drive past, of the seating in the back yard.
And just possibly, you might see someone with a sitting area arranged under an open carport or on a deeply shaded front porch, but mostly, most assuredly, company was entertained in the yard in summer months, where shade was plentiful, breezes were all about and the views expanded across flower beds and fields and you were serenaded by drowsy buzzing bees and birds.
The first memory I have of being entertained out of doors was at Grandmama Stewart's home. She was my great grandmother. Near the road, just steps from her well, she had a big tall tree and under the tree was a split log bench.
When Mama and Daddy were still quite young and they had three children with a very tight budget, they rented an old farm house with a shed and a couple of outdoor houses meant for the folks who worked on the place. The old woman who owned the farm used the outdoor houses as storage for her unwanted items. She allowed Mama and Daddy to use some old wooden deck chairs that she had stored.
It turned out the fabric was quite old and had not weathered well, so their first guests who sat down went right on through to the ground. Mama, being a woman who sewed as naturally as she breathed, soon had made new covers for those chairs and they used them until the budget allowed the purchase of the next chairs I'll mention...
My next memory of outdoor seating was the aluminum and webbing sort of chairs. Not exactly the most sturdy chair known to man but certainly they were lightweight and inexpensive and they were easily folded and put away. I recall various patterns of webbing, mostly in greens though I do seem to recall a yellow one as well. These chairs were not only in our own yard at home, they were in my grandparents yards as well.
Later Granny upgraded her outdoor seating, and I must say it was rather nice. She had a couple of big water oak trees and the branches spread and met over the middle of the back yard area. My brother and cousin built Granny a brick patio, sanded in, with a plant ring in the middle that was rather nice, though they were just 11 and 9 at the time.
Granny's metal glider and chairs were green with white panels. Three of us could sit happily on that glider and the polite question was always "Would you like to glide, or no?" One simply didn't glide because you felt like it! No, you had to be polite and all agree that gliding was what was wanted. Gliders of this ilk can still be found, in vintage condition. Most just need a bit of sprucing up with a fresh paint job.
Those chairs, by the way, felt rather dangerous. The more you weighed the deeper they dipped in the back and the older the chair got the more it bowed down. It could be rather startling to find yourself with your feet in the air and your bottom on the ground!
The chairs had two saving graces. First, they were very sturdy. I think Granny's were going on 20 years old when one finally broke. Given that she often had family gathering at her place and had 7 grandchildren who were normal rough sort of kids, I think it's remarkable they held up so well. The other grace of the chairs? Because they had no back legs, you could slowly bounce the chair in a sort of rocking motion. Many a baby was rocked to sleep in one of those chairs while the adults sat about talking.
I remember one very hot summer day, Granny took her visitors to her garden. We kids decided that it was so hot we should make a big picture of Koolaid to refresh them when they returned. I've rarely seen adults so pleased to see a tinkling iced drink even if it was strawberry flavored Koolaid.
Grandmama Crowley kept her webbed aluminum chairs for years upon years. She always took great care of her things so even if the chairs were inexpensive, she was more likely going to redo the webbing and keep hers going for years on end. However, at some point she did purchase some cast iron patio chairs. Her chairs were similar to these about this table:
When she died, I acquired the two chairs still in her possession. I have them on my front porch:
A few years ago I was rather pleased to come across a patio table and four chairs of the same sort of metal. I kept an umbrella over the table but after going through four rather quickly, I decided it was a waste of my funds. The table and chairs still sit on the patio and it's a very pleasant place to sit in the afternoon in summer, after the sun has pushed past the front of the house. I've been looking for some deep shade where I might put it but so far, I've come up blank. Though just now it occurs to me that placing it between the Faith Tree and the front porch might be rather nice. But then I'd have no seating on the patio at all and I do like to sit and soak up the sun in winter there.
Of course, I could use one of these sorts of benches which is incredibly sturdy and far more comfortable than you'd expect:
Concrete blocks and 4x4 posts is all this requires. We sat on one of these down in St. Augustine and agreed it was a rather good idea for inexpensive outdoor seating.
My favorite seating in a yard was my set of old bent willow or cypress furniture.
That's my full share of chair memories. Have you any summer memories of outdoor seating?