MIAGD: Memories of the front porch

MIAGD: Make it a great day

A Facebook post reminisced about the days of sitting on the front porch chatting with family and neighbors.

I certainly grew up in such an environment.


This is not a family photo

My grandparents, Leroy and Donna Barmes, lived on the southwest corner of South A & 8th streets in Elwood, Indiana, and their large, imposing house had a nice-size porch that always accommodated a large gathering.  When I picture their front porch I immediately hear the gentle squeaking porch swing that was the hub of conversation and activity.

The house in which I grew up, built on a large hill on the exact opposite corner of the next block had an even larger, wraparound porch, but no swing.  Instead, we used the extended patio in the back of the house, away from the busyness of the Main & Ninth Street intersection at the stoplight.

At Grandpa and Grandma’s house, it was much like being at my own home, and I was never a guest.  Their home was also my home.  My other home.


This is not a family photo

My grandfather, a police officer, often worked the midnight shift, thus affording me a good deal of time with him before I began school, and on holiday breaks or in the summer once I did begin my daily sojourn at Washington Elementary School, also attended by my mother, her brothers, and several of their first cousins. I was my papaw’s little sidekick, or as he introduced me, “My Boss.”

One of my favorite pass-times with Grandpa was to visit their next-door neighbor, Ruby Parker.  Ruby’s children were the same age as my mother, now grown, and her grandchildren were my age. Ruby lounged on her front porch swing less than 40 feet from my grandparents’ porch with whatever crochet or knitting project covering her legs.  I later figured out the project was not spread across her legs as much for comfort as it was for measuring her progress. 

“Ruby Doll!”  My grandfather’s nickname was always his bellowed greeting as we left the front porch to cross the short expanse of the yard to chat with Mrs. Parker.  It was clear they dearly adored one another.

One early morning, Grandpa Leroy sneaked over to Ruby’s yard to remove her flower boxes off her front porch to set on the ledge of his own porch.  Later that morning as they enjoyed their morning chat, Grandpa commented how nice “Donna’s flowers” looked on their front porch. Ruby looked up and said, “I know. I’ve been admiring them all morning,” obviously missing the fact her flowers were missing.

One summer evening, while Grandma and Grandpa were seated on their front porch after dinner, a very young neighbor boy came to the porch.

“Mr. & Mrs. Barmes?  Have you seen my dog?”

Grandpa turned to Grandma and asked, “Oh, Donna, was that what we had for supper?”

The boy tore out of their yard, screaming, “Mom! The Barmeses ate our dog.”


This is not a family photo

Front porch swings seem to be either regional or a thing of the past.  I seldom see anyone in my busy neighborhood on their front porches and front porch swings seem to be obsolete.  I, myself, prefer the privacy of my back deck where I spend a good deal of time writing or researching and enjoying the dogs.  Still, I do enjoy neighborly chats across the fence, in one another’s living rooms and in the front yard.

Make it a great day!


About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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