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Date:4/24/2014 10:31:36 AM
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Porch Sitting, Part III
Porch Sitting seems like an inherently passive and restful activity; and usually it is. In a small town, evening porch sitting occurs at about the same time as townspeople take their evening walks. Garrison Keillor, in his "Lake Woebegone" stories, writes of front porch protocols. If you are walking along the sidewalk in front of someone's porch and they call out to you, you are allowed to stop and converse. However, it is only if you are specifically invited to come up the steps and "sit a spell" are you allowed to do so. If you come up the porch on your own, it would be a breach of country etiquette.

Some of my favorite scenes from "The Andy Griffith Show" were of his front porch in the evenings or on a Sunday. One of the best episodes is about the wired businessman, stranded in Mayberry on a Sunday, and who was forced to stay over until Gomer could get a part for his car so he go on his way. Entitled "Man in a Hurry", it was voted by fans as their favorite episode of the entire series. The poor business man is perplexed at how slow-paced life is in Mayberry on a Sunday and bristles when Andy proudly shows him how he'd managed to peel an entire apple while leaving the whole peel intact. At the end of the episode, of course, the businessman comes around and as Andy and Barney debate about going downtown to get a soda pop they turn to ask the old man if he'd like to go, they find him asleep in his porch chair, a long peel hanging in one piece from the apple in his hand.


Now the area under the porch was usually reserved for the family dogs. If you didn't have a dog to go along with your porch, you ran the risk of having the lower level rented by raccoons, 'possums, or the worst, skunks. I think that every one of us has a skunk or 'possum story to relate. Family dogs, especially hounds, loved the cool, moist dirt under the porch and on even the hottest of days, they would find it a shady respite from the Summer heat. My Pa, during the Great Depression, worked for his room and board throughout the 1930s. He once told me that he might have made $100 for the whole decade. One brutally hot day during the height of the Dust-bowl years he followed his employer, an old dirt-poor farmer, back to the farmhouse for lunch. The wizened, old farmer, at the brink of losing the farm, stopped at the porch and observed his hound dog, cool and content in the shade under the porch looking up at him. The farmer said to Pa, "And we gotta go to hell yet!" More about porch sitting to come. --Gary
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