Come sit on the porch awhile. Enjoy a glass of sweet iced tea as you peruse my thoughts, memories, dreams and images of family and friends - things trivial and not so trivial - past, present and future. I write and post for the simple pleasure of doing so. If you reap some small amount of pleasure from what you find here please come back again soon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Postcard from a Montana Porch

"This was taken when we were up in Billings. Sister Emma is holding Baby. Last Sunday Mr. Chaffee took some Kodak pictures of Ralph and Baby and Baby alone. Hope they will be good.
Sister Maire stopped from Saturday until Monday on her way back to Billings. Had a good dinner Sunday of fried chicken, etc.
Made six glasses of choke cherrie jelly today, the first we have put up this season, fruit comes so high.
Today it is raining and looks like it could some more.
We are invited out in the country to eat watermelon Sunday don't know if we will go or not.
Baby is gaining weight every day. All of us send our love." Beda
Custer, Montana, Aug. 23, 11.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Favorite Porch Pictures...

This photograph is from my personal collection of vintage black and white prints and one of my favorite "porch pictures". As is true with many of the images in my collection, I do not know the who, what, where and why of it. It's just a beautiful moment in the life of a family.

Isn't their home lovely? And wouldn't you love to go inside for coffee? It would, no doubt, be a strong cup with rich flavor. And the smell of leather bound books would be almost as strong as the aroma of their fresh brewed coffee.

You see, that's the fun of having photos of strangers, you can only imagine what their lives are like and then make up your own stories about them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Life as Simple as a Straight Back Chair

The little house where I lived as a child had a good front porch - not large, not railed, not even painted white - just plain boards nailed on a wooden frame. It was not spacious and grand like the wrap around Southern porches where genteel families enjoyed iced tea and lemonade. No definitely not fancy, but still it was nice and memories were created on and around it - wonderful memories of home and security:
Loving parents, best friend neighbors, lots of kids in the neighborhood playing old fashioned outdoor games – Hide and Seek, Red Rover, Tag You're It – up until and sometimes even after dark when the games often turned to catching "lightning" bugs in mason jars or telling ghost stories around a fire.
My mother sitting in the morning sun on our front porch rocking a neighbor’s baby in a white, straight back chair...clip clop, clip clop, clip clop…no curved rockers on the bottom of that chair, just wooden spindle legs sounding a rhythm as they alternately hit the floor. There was a seemingly endless procession of babies – one born each year for a number of years – and my momma was more than willing to help out with the little ones.
That same straight back chair that momma used to rock the babies also served well for churning buttermilk in a one gallon jug...clip clop, clip clop, clip clop…cradling and rocking just as if it were a baby too. And as us kids grew older we were drafted into helping with this chore...clip clop, clip clop, clip seemed to take ages to get butter from that stubborn sour milk!
We had four of those straight back chairs and they survived the rigors of active living and vigorous playing for many years. They were moved with us to several different houses with varied porches.
As our family grew up and apart – one brother went away to the Army; I married; the other two brothers married; dad passed; and now mother is gone as well – only one chair survives that I know of. It is safe in my home studio waiting for a broken slat to be repaired. Sometimes I want to sit down in it and rock...clip clop, clip clop, clip clop...but I am afraid of breaking it and maybe loosing memories of my childhood when life was as simple as a straight back chair.

Unfortunately, I haven't located any photos of the little house described above. I have several old photos of our life on that place but none of the house itself. The two photos below are other houses where my family lived. The first was taken circa early 1950s and the other was shot in February 1966.

In this old family snapshot, my brother Joe sits on the hood of one of dad's old vehicles playing with a "toy" that is nothing more than a simple paper "poke" full of air. In the background to the left, you can see the corner of one of our simplest of front porches. It was rustic, to say the least, and certainly not pretty but it served a purpose and, believe it or not, holds funny childhood memories. I was very young when we lived here, and certainly not old enough to participate in my three older brothers' rebel rousings. But  there are stories of them using this porch as a launching pad for various activities.
Our family always had farm animals - chickens, cows, goats, etc. - and this story revolved around a big Billy goat that we had. It seems two brothers would hold the goat below the deep end of the porch while the third launched a "trick jump" onto the poor critter's back and would then hold on tight for a wild ride around the yard. The one who stayed on the longest was declared the champion of all goat riders. Of course there was the devil to pay when mom got wind of their shenanigans. In their defense, I will say we were "poor" and had very few real toys with which to play and, as they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions.
Speaking of inventions, notice the utility pole in front of our outdoor toilet. If you're wondering, no we did not have electric lighting out there.

We moved several times between the place above and the one below. I have memories of all of them but unfortunately no photos of the houses or their porches.

Things started looking up when we moved to this “modern” house in the mid 1960s. Two bedrooms, running water in the kitchen, color television, party-line telephone, and a concrete front porch were special upgrades. We still had an outdoor toilet, however, but still no electric lights out there. No heat either and I shiver to think how bone chilling it was to go out in the snowy cold to “sit a while”. That’s the kind of memory that makes us appreciate what we have now. Indoor plumbing is certainly a blessing!

On this front porch I kissed my first date good night in December, 1965 and two years later I married in the living room of this house.
That cute little Fiest Rat Terrier sitting on the steps was my mom’s best friend and squirrel hunting buddy. Her name was Sissy and she was a very good dog.
As for those four straight back chairs...still hanging in there baby.