I’ve always wanted a porch. There’s no doubt that deep-seated desire has its roots in my Oberlin upbringing. There were two porches from my life that are now almost a half-century ago, but the memory of each has never faded.
Most of my childhood and teenage years were played out at 152 East College St. We had the most magnificent front porch, which had a section deep enough for one of those swings that hung from the ceiling by chains. My friends and I rocked it so mercilessly the ceiling hooks finally gave way and those ultra-modern webbed chaise lounges (now seemingly archaic) took the swing’s place. Those were for Mom and Dad and there were other chairs for us.
It was a summertime family ritual to head out to the porch after dinner to watch the world go by. Maybe we did it because it was cooler outside or maybe we did it to enjoy each other’s company, or maybe we did it to see who we could see. (That was, of course, a favorite Oberlin pastime.) It seems like everyone in town was out and about. It was the era of bicycling in town, so many friends young and old pedaling past, doing their best to soak up some summer while getting to where they needed to go. Cars also rolled by, with passengers waving lazily out their windows at us.
Air conditioning was not a factor yet in the automotive world, except for our friend Wilson Cox. Now, he didn’t have air conditioning in his vehicle. No. He just drove around town with the windows up, sweltering inside just so that people would think he had air conditioning. He was quite the character!
Many of those warm summer evenings Mary Ann and I hung out. The corner of East College and Park was our “parting place.” It was parentally approved, because Mom and Dad could see us from their perches on the porch. Saying goodbye was always difficult, so we literally spent hours there until we got the holler that it was time. Then we shouted out, “Head for the hills,” and each of us dashed to our respective homes.
I have so many memories of Dad on that porch. We had a glider in the very front portion and we loved when a storm kicked up. We would sit out there cherishing each thunder boom and lightening streak. This always drove Mother crazy and she would yell at us from inside, demanding that we come in, often making us stay out there all the longer, mainly to annoy her. Shame on us. Every time there’s a storm today I wish I could share it with him.
Then there was 19 Locust St. I lived there the first five years of my life but then Uncle Chuck, whose family originally built the house, moved back in with his wife, Aunt Helen, her brother Uncle Howard, and my grandmother who we called Togi. So even though we moved across town, 19 Locust was a constant in my life well into my 30s.
It sported the most wonderful screened-in porch. We ate out there, played cards out there, chatted and visited out there, and it was always cool and inviting besides being bug-free! Above it was a screened-in sleeping porch that was my domain whenever I stayed over with the family. If storms were terrific at 152, they were utterly amazing at 19 when on one or the other of those porches. I notice, driving by, that the screens aren’t there anymore and the owner just doesn’t know the joys that are being missed.
Anyway, with our move we will have a small front porch and it is our plan to screen in a section in the back of the new house. Those features may do the trick to conjure up some memories. They may make me happy.
Yet somehow they just won’t be the same.
Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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