Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sittin' On My Grandparents' Front Porch

I used to love sitting on my grandparents' front porch in Olive Hill, Kentucky.

It was a gathering place for friends and family. 

As a young child, no matter where we went to visit relatives in Kentucky, we were always invited to sit a spell up on the porch.  I learned to love the older generation and hear stories about all of those ancestors that they had known personally.  Many were born in the mid-1800's.  All four of my grandparents were born in the late 1800's.  Even today, people are amazed to hear that I actually knew people that were born 125 years ago!

Mawmaw and Pawpaw would always be on the front porch waiting for us as we pulled into the driveway.  I could hardly wait to be swept up into Mawmaw's loving arms and ample bosom.  She made me feel like her day was complete when she saw us drive up.

We would stay on the porch until bedtime. People would drive by and honk their horn.  They knew everyone who drove by. 

I also remember the many funerals I attended.  There was always a "sittin' with the corpse" - a wake.  People would come for miles around and stay through the night.  Before long, the talk would turn to religion or politics and my mom would send me to bed.  But, as the voices became louder, I would peek through the banister to see the arguments move from the dining room to the front room to the front porch.  There, they continued on and on...

My mother reminded me one day that people in the south are actually very smart.  This was contrary to what others at school believed.  They thought they were just dumb hillbillies.  But, she let me know that they had probably been up since 5:00 a.m. working in the garden and in the barns.  They would have already been up planting their crops.  But, if you drove the countryside during the day, they would all be on their porches till the heat of the day was gone.  Then they would finish up their chores with enough time to spend on the porch.

My Uncle Dick, sitting on the same porch I used to sit on when we would go visiting.  It was built by his father, Corb Stevens.
Even today, my aunt and uncle spend time on the porch, waving to all who drive by.  That's how they tell time - when so-and-so drives by, it must be 4:15 p.m.  They are rarely wrong.  There are flowers and vines that grow on one side of the porch.  It keeps the sun from "beatin' in on you".

I don't have a front porch.  I have a deck, but it's not quite the same.  But tonight, I'm sitting here listening to the tree frogs, the cicadas, the sounds of the earth going to sleep.  A few bats are beginning to dart around.  Some fireflies are providing my own little fireworks show.  People drive by and some even honk, but I don't have a clue who they are.  And, I can't tell the time by their presence. 

In just a couple of weeks, I'll make another trip down home.  I'll probably be welcomed onto the porch just like in times' past.  We'll catch up on things:  how the garden was this year, how's my family doing, how hot it has been, and who has taken sick or died since I was there last.  Well talk about how many head of cattle he has now, and how the two new blue cows are that were born this past spring.  My aunt will bring out some funeral cards and obituaries she's been saving for me.  We'll eat some cornbread and soup beans and probably whatever we can find in the garden.

I can't wait to sit on the porch once again...

My Aunt Betty on her front porch.


  1. I love front porches. They used to be commonplace - now you have to do an addition to have a nice one.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"