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The Road To Fort Worth

Read » Chapter 8: Danville

The Front Porch

Let me take you back to the summer of 1956 for a moment. It was late afternoon on a Saturday, and my mother and I were enjoying a cold drink on the front porch of our house, gently swaying on the porch swing. I was ten, the wonderful age when kids actually liked their parents and their parent's friends. Adults had a genuine interest in kids back in the days when a village raised a child.

The town vagrant, Lester, was pushing his four wheeled cart piled high with junk down the center of the street. He was headed for the junk yard, or wherever he took his bounty to unload it before scouring the tree lawns for more treasure.

I yelled "Hey, Dynamite," and he quickly turned his head and gave me a sinister look.

"Don't ever call him Dynamite," my mother admonished. "He could come after you. He hates that name. You know he's crazy."

Sometimes at night I would think about the crazy man coming after me with a knife, but my buddies and I still yelled out Dynamite when he passed by us as we sat on the tree lawn, watching the shiny new car models drive past. We'd yell out to him and then run to safety behind the house.

We watched the whole wide world pass by on a lazy day in August, sipping cold drinks on the front porch.

Bob Thompson was walking down the sidewalk and said hello.

"Want a cold drink, Bob?" my mother asked. "Yes, please," Bob said, walking up the sidewalk toward us. It was front porch etiquette to either be invited to visit, or to ask, "Mind if I sit for a spell?" The answer was always yes. Still, being polite never hurt anyone.

The sky was turning dark, and the leaves on the old Buckeye tree turned heavenward, then a clap of thunder jarred our world, and rain poured in torrents. We watched sheets of rain dancing in the sky as we talked on the large porch. Later, the sun peeked out from behind a cloud, and the wonderful smell of the freshly cleansed earth wafted over us.

There isn't a sidewalk or a front porch on my house, so I keep my garage door open and sit at my work bench. Occasionally, a neighbor will stop by to visit. They smile and say hello, but the question, "Mind if I sit for a spell?" is never asked. Still, it's the next best thing to having a front porch.

After a storm yesterday, the power was down for a while. The AC units in my neighborhood stopped running, and I could hear the sound of birds for a change. Air conditioning killed the front porch, I thought, and a wonderful part of our culture said farewell. I wonder why we couldn't have both? Wouldn't it make sense to reunite with each other face-to-face on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A common sense stress buster?

Then I think, maybe, common sense isn't so common.

Copyright ©2012 Michael Jackson Smith

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