Forty miles west of Boston, in central Massachusetts, between the Berkshire Mountains and Cape Cod, is Worcester. It was good place to be a kid. We owned a three family house there, a ‘3 decker’, a style exclusive to New England blue collar neighborhoods.
The big house had some fascinating features: a slate roof, windowed side porches, utility sheds on the back with access to outside turning clothes lines. On wash day, everything from underwear to pillow cases hung from the backside of the house, drying to a fresh air finish in the feint summer breezes.
To me, the deep, wrap-around front porch with spindled railings, round columns and a narrow board floor was the best part of the house, a place in the hot summer months, where I could escape to relax, reflect and reenergize.
Front porches were common in New England, as gathering places for family and friends. In summer, my porch collected morning dew that gave way to evening sunsets. Daytime found the porch abuzz with children playing and adults relaxing with idle chatter over cups of hot tea, unknowingly making memories.
Overgrown forsythia and fragrant lilac bushes served as a wall of privacy, like a moat to a castle. A pull-down shade kept us cool and dry from summer sun and rain.
Imaginations came alive as friends gathered on the porch to play or plan games. My body found a way to adjust to the stiff aluminum chaise lounge where I often settled in, to read on lazy summer days. There, I muddled through ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ got lost in ‘Lord of The Flies’, with my own sea conch by my side, and hid ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Comic books were a favorite staple and napping was allowed.
The front porch of our home was a launching pad to juvenile adventures, where a kid could feel brave and safe. But all good things end, as this did when my dad announced that he was ripping off the porch because it was in disrepair. I was devastated.
I knew, then, an idyllic chapter in my life had ended, as I pulled nails from the splintered boards that once made my porch. I felt like an executioner.
But the memory of that porch and those times remains vivid. And, I wonder, did you have a ‘front porch ‘ in your life?