Porches and Lemonade
“Our old farmhouse has a young porch. Once it had a smaller, older porch, but it disappeared in a remodel in the 1950’s when the age of carpets and appliances raged, and people took to the interiors of their homes. Status and comfort seems to be equated with being “inside” and porches were considered relics of the past, like a team of horses or an outhouse. Somewhere in the fifties-with the newfound postwar invention of suburban tract homes, with the boom of babies and a new attitude of cleanliness, after a decade of Depression denial and wartime sacrifice-the outside was equated with being dirty, with its subliminal message of evil. Porches were lost in the process.”
-Mas Masumoto- Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm
I, too, lament the loss of porches.
I remember on our family’s summer visits to New Orleans, my Aunt Leticia would retire to the front porch at the end of her day. Her days began very early, cleaning and cooking for her husband and children, along with us, her visiting brother and sister-in-law, and niece and nephews from Los Angeles- and any other family member that happened to drop in.
She would stand over us, her serving spoon in the pot, admonishing us to hurry up and eat, so she could give us some more.
After the dinner dishes were done, and any leftovers put away, she would retire to the front porch where she’d enjoy a glass of cold lemonade, fan herself, and talk across the porches with her neighbors, who included her sister, my Nanny Marion, who lived next door, and her sister-in-law, as Aunt Leticia had married the boy from across the street.
The neighborhood was a life long community. They watched out for each other. On one summer visit, my youngest brother took off running after a fire truck, in the city he knew barely at all, when he was no more than 4 or 5 years old. A neighbor came running over to the house. “Your little boy just ran down the street” she said.
And each fall, another sent to us, in Los Angeles, pecans harvested from the tree in her yard until her death a few years back.
Aunt Leticia’s children moved out to newer, more suburban, neighborhoods, when they married and began families of their own-neighborhoods with houses that had central air-conditioning and no porches. They, like me here in L.A., barely know their neighbors.
Lemonade recipe on the next page…