The Front Porch


When we moved to Swainsboro in the summer of 1961, we realized we were not in Kansas anymore – borrowing a pun from the classic move “The Wizard of Oz.”
We didn’t know it then, but we were country to the bone. Our ways and means of doing anything sort of clashed with the way citizens of Lake Luck did it, but, gradually, we overcame our shortcomings and prevailed. Somewhere along the journey, our neighbors found themselves trying to keep up with us, The Johnsons.
We were front porch sitters and mama and papa found themselves waving at all the neighbors as they passed by our house. They were surprised that no one took the effort to wave back or join them with a neighborly chit-chat on the front porch.
We had moved from the friendly town of Garfield where porch sitting had become a daily ritual for most country folk. Two old maids sat on their long, wrap-around porch from morning to night. They could tell you all the news about what was going on in Garfield. They could tell who had a happy marriage or who was on the doorstep to divorce. They saw things from their front porch that no one else was aware of. Those rocking chairs had become an extension of their anatomy. So, when they stood up to stretch their legs, their rear ends had become as flat as a pancake from sitting there all day long.
Porch sitting applied to almost anyone in and around Garfield. We shelled the majority of fresh butterbeans and peas on the front porch, and the restless dogs and cats found refuge from the summer heat there.

Time went by slowly; a clock was not deeded. You had an inner sense when dinner time came, and the old folks knew when to go inside, realizing that an electric storm was in the making. We took our own time. No one got in a hurry.
As nightfall came, we headed to the front porch to see the stars and moon come out while fireflies and mosquitoes buzzed around our heads. Hidden in the deep woods, the bulldogs croaked and the whippoorwills called to each other as they ushered in the peaceful stillness.
We got in a semi-circle around Daddy as he told nightmarish ghost stories. It seemed so real as he spoke about a headless woman and dark, sinister demons from the underworld.
Mama would often call him down, telling him we wouldn’t be able to sleep. He would take her advice and stop in midsentence while he quickly pointed to the big dipper and the northern lights millions of miles away in the heavens.
Trillions of stories have been told and retold about how allusive “love” is. But, throughout history, the front porch is the place and true focal point where love is to be found! It is a place where families have bonded together and studied the complexity of the heavens and found God, and, in finding God, they found “Love.”


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