Four Generations of the Bostick Family on the Front Porch

I currently live in a rental home next door to my parent’s home of more than half a century.

One day last week I pulled into my driveway and just sat there for a moment looking over at that old house recalling some of the memories it held, and pondering all of the changes it had seen.

Gone was the massive old pecan tree that once stood alongside the driveway, between where I now sat and the old house, felled what must have been 20, 25 years ago now. Likewise, gone was the ramshackle old one-car shed/garage, whose attic also once served as our clubhouse when we were kids, now replaced by three outbuildings, a two-car garage, with office, and a two-car carport.

The only thing left there is where some of us kids wrote our names in some concrete back in the early seventies.

I guess they call it progress, but I’m not sure.

In fact, about the only thing that hadn’t changed about that old house besides general upkeep and upgrades was the one thing that mattered most, the thing that I now know most comprises the “soul” of that house: the front porch.

As a young lad, it was from that porch that I set off on my youthful adventures, loading BB guns with Buddy Faison for that day’s safari, planning out a bicycle adventure, or maybe gathering with the neighborhood gang for a much-anticipated bike race or game of football or roll-a-bat.

And that was also the same porch I’d come to a little later in life, late at night, when I’d pause after being out, perhaps a little later than I should have been, and maybe with a scent of Schlitz on my breath, to consider a brief “Here we go” before slipping a key into the lock and beginning the gauntlet walk thru the deathly quiet darkened house back to my bedroom, hoping that those 100-year old floors wouldn’t creak too loudly as I crept past, praying not to hear, “What time is it?” emanating from my parent’s bedroom to the left or, God forbid, from the den on the right.

But the porch wasn’t exclusive to me and my kin. It seems everyone wound up on our porch, and for about two decades growing up, all of my friends, as well as those of my siblings, would gravitate to our big front porch to hang out and talk.

And sometimes even more, as I think a “runaway” was even knowingly accommodated for a few days once, as well as others who would come over just to pop their feet up on the railings and have discussions about matters on their minds.

There were a lot of Band-Aids put on scrapes out on that porch, and a lot of life’s heartaches tended to also, for that matter. And there were also some important life lessons taught, some sought, and some rather harshly and sternly applied.

But I learned. Oh, how I learned.

One of my favorite memories of growing up is remembering how whenever we were off somewhere without my father, when we got home, if he was there before us, nine times out of ten, he would be either waiting for us in a rocking chair on the front porch or pacing the sidewalk in front of the house. He just couldn’t rest until his flock got in. That impacted me.

Later in life, I watched as my mother hosted citizens who would stop by to express concerns about city matters to her as their council representative or mayor, and tried to put herself into their shoes and help them as best she could, Golden Rule-style.

Actions do speak louder than words ever will, folks.

And little, it seems, has changed today. That old porch has received a few upgrades, gotten some flashy new vinyl railing and handrails for the old folks, composite decking to replace worn-out planks, a few new plants and yard art pieces and sculptures and doo-dads, but it’s still the same old porch, with a few rockers and a swing, and with the same old red milk jug sitting beside the front door, just as it has for over half a century..

And it’s still drawing them in. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t see someone—sometimes several folks–stopped over at mom and dad’s visiting, just sitting on the porch spending a few minutes catching up on something or sharing news or opinions.

It always warms my heart a little to know that people feel welcome at our home. I hope they always will.

For while our house may be our home, that front porch is us.

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