Stories from the Front Porch

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If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then porches of yesterday must have been the soul. It’s where babies were rocked, beans were snapped, fish tales were swapped and all the problems of the world were solved. Just thinking about a porch swing or some iron rocking chairs takes me back to my own childhood and my granny’s Oklahoma porch.

Porches are where reminiscing used to happen. Now it’s called therapy because not many take time to sit and rock, talk and listen on a beloved’s front porch. You don’t need a porch to hear the stories of your youth and the family tales of your loved ones. It only takes a little time to make memories to last a lifetime.

What I remember most about my Granny’s front porch is the laughter. We visited “back home” every summer along with oh, a dozen or two other relatives who made their way back to the two-bedroom house on the edge of a little town called Konawa. Campers and tents came along with the relatives and the fun began as soon as your foot hit that old front porch.

Those summers were magical and the front porch is where the magic happened. Okay, there was a lot of magic going on in the kitchen when my Granny began to cook, but the stories I heard and the fun we had just hanging out together will always be a cherished memory.

The porch is where my cousin turned green after “sampling” some of my granddaddy’s chewing tobacco. The porch is where you never, ever tried to steal a sip of Uncle Joel’s coke. I learned that the hard way. It was laced with whiskey.

I must have heard a million stories about all the 12 siblings my granny raised. Or was it 14? I forgot. She also raised two of her grandchildren after adopting them.

I especially love the story about the family pet crow “Old Sam.” My granddaddy also loved rocking on the front porch. Back then the family home was an old rental house with a wooden deck on the front porch. Granddaddy would rock and eventually fall asleep and that’s when the fun began. My mama and her siblings had trained Old Sam to pull granddaddy’s pocket change out from between the boards. Luckily for the children, granddaddy’s pockets often had holes and he lost a bit of his silver during naps!

The porch was rarely empty but on a few occasions I sat there all by myself listening to the cicadas in the giant sycamore tree and the birds and breathing in the sweet Oklahoma air. I never wanted to leave. I could have been content to stay there forever — or so I thought. On the front porch you could hear everything going on in the tiny house, from an argument over who’s sleeping where, to “what are we going to eat for dinner.” Those voices were very sweet to me because it was only once a year that I got to hear those voices of my aunts, uncles and cousins.

We were often “back home” on the Fourth of July and my cousins and I would save our allowances so we could walk to town and buy fireworks. Did I say “fireworks”? I was mistaken. These were “firecrackers.”

After a huge meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, watermelon and homemade ice cream, the only thing to do was to wait until dark when the fun began. The cousins all took turns lighting their treasures. Bottle rockets were watched closely. You never knew where they might come down and no one wanted to lose a roof or house! There were Roman candles, black cats, snakes and pinwheels. There was an assortment of “fountains” with spews of green, gold and shooting blue stars. A bucket of water was also close by because at least one or two of the little cousins would either step on a sparkler wire or get too close to someone else’s sparkler. You know you have to have a little drama on the Fourth of July!

These sweet memories make me a little sad for our current young people. They are so busy with their smart phones and computers they rarely come up for air to visit with those that love them so dearly. May we never lose our love of sharing old stories and feelings with those we love.

Reminiscing is a way to share our past, hear the stories of our elders while cementing our relationships and truly finding out who we are and who we came from. Every chance I get, I now sit on my parents’ front porch and we talk, we listen, we laugh and make new memories to cherish.

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