by Garland Davis.
Where I grew up in rural North Carolina almost every house had a front porch. In winter it was a place to store firewood and during nicer weather, it was a place to congregate and talk about the events of the day. It was a place where neighbors could congregate and share the news. I learned many things just sitting and listening to the adults.
In the evenings after the day’s work and the after supper, yeah, I said supper, chores were finished. Dinner was what you ate at midday. The grown-ups would bring the chairs from the house and congregate around the open window where the radio could be heard. They would talk and tell stories, pausing occasionally to listen to a joke by Jack Benny or to a tense moment of the Lone Ranger when Tonto was dangling over a cliff.
Although, people were sitting and talking their hands were not idle, especially when the garden came in. I remember snapping and stringing beans for my Mama and Granny to can the next day. Once, a fellow, coming back from down east gave my dad three bushels of peaches. We peeled peaches, it seemed forever.
It was also a place to sip a little Shine on Saturday nights and “make music.” An uncle with his fiddle, my dad semi-proficient with the five-string banjo, and a fellow with a guitar, as well as a teenager who played guitar and sang. (he went on to make a life in Country Music). He even had a hit song, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.”
But the people who used the front porch most in the spring, summer, and fall were the oldsters. You could drive through the country and nearly every house had an old man, old woman, or one of each sitting on the porch watching the traffic go by. They waved (what we called, “thowed up their hand”) to every car that passed. Looking back on it, the only contact they had with the outside was the people in those cars. I realize they were just sitting there waiting to die. You don’t see them on the porches or in public these days. They are in Senior Citizen’s Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, or whatever fancy name they can come up with in order to charge more to warehouse unwanted oldsters.
There is still a front porch of sorts for those of us who are old and not as physically able to do a hell of a lot. We sit alone in a room connected to hundreds of people we do not know but we call them “friends.” Officially I have 1643 friends this morning. I probably have met and know a hundred of them. My “front porch” has a twenty-seven-inch screen, the latest iteration of Windows, and two terabytes of something I do not understand. It is my window to the world where I write serious political commentaries and other crap that wanders through my mind. I, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, try my warped sense of humor on others.
We can write to each other and actually talk face to face, though hundreds and thousands of miles apart. I have recently discovered that some of us can get together in group calls and talk, tell sea stories, and laugh at the antics we engaged in during a younger day.
So, if you run across me somewhere out there in the ether, “Thow Up Your Hand.” Perhaps, we will both live a little longer.