The front porch, once an essential architectural feature of homes, has become a thing of the past. In the days before the twin sirens of air-conditioned comfort and television lured families into their homes, the front porch was the gathering place — the spot where families cooled off on hot summer nights and actually conversed with one another before going to bed.
The first home I lived in when I was growing up in South Texas had a porch that spanned the length of our home. And when my grandparents built their new home, they included spacious porches on both the front and back sides of the house, each suited for different parts of the day. I have more memories than I can count of sitting on the front and back porches with my grandparents. I learned a lot about a lot of things from them on those porches.
I love exploring old abandoned houses on Texas backroads. A common feature of many of these old homes is the front porch. Whenever I see one of these homes, it’s not hard for me to imagine what life must have been like for those who lived there — hard-working folks chatting at the end of long days, watching the sun set from their front porches.
I think that we lost something special when we abandoned our front porches and opted to do all of life inside of our comfortable homes. The conversation and interaction of years gone by has been replaced by high-definition television and smart phones. These devises easily distract us from the people who share the same living space with us.
Please understand that I am not anti television and telephone. It’s just that reflecting on the role that the front porch once played in my life makes me wonder about what I have given up in exchange for these devices. Or maybe it’s just that I am becoming more nostalgic the older I get.
I do however, believe that we need to somehow recapture the essence of front porch living as modern families. Perhaps that means turning off the stuff more often and actually conversing with others, the old-fashioned way of doing face time!
I am grateful for the years I spent with my grandparents on their front porch. When I close my eyes I can hear their voices, smell the cool grass, feel the summer breeze, and envision the beautiful Texas night sky. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have air-conditioning in those days or that there was not much to watch on television. We had something far better — a meaningful connection with one another because of the time we spent together on the front porch.