The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 30, 2013

Home to the Hills

Memories abound of old front porch

By Ricky Pack

— I have heard that there more deals made on the golf course than in the office. That may be true, but many of life’s obstacles have been overcome on a very important room of a country home.

The room I am writing about is the area between the front door and the steps leading to the ground — the all-American porch! It was invented by God Almighty to bring a family together, discuss problems with neighbors, straighten out a child gone astray, or to just get lost in the moment, the surroundings or breathe in the air. There are more purposes for a porch then for a new bottle of Castor oil.

My first recollection of a porch was sitting in a chair beside Pop. My grandfather was sitting in a rocking chair, had a twig of wood and his whittlin’ knife. He would pull that knife along the twig of wood, shaving off a little piece at a time.

To me it looked like he was making a little pencil. Didn’t make sense to me what he was doing or even why he was doing it. The glitter of the knife is what got my attention. It wasn’t long before I got a banana knife for my birthday. (Not a real banana, a knife that is shaped like a banana with a long yellow handle)

During the hot days of summer, Grandma would bring her potatoes out to peel, or chop something for dinner. That woman could talk and, at the same time, snap beans at the speed of light. Click, click, click, I can still her snapping away. I wonder why we don’t snap beans as much as we did back then.

Pop and Grandma’s porch changed as the years went by. First there was a porch with no rail, then there was a lap rail, then it was screened in and the last one made it a closed-in front porch. The uses didn’t change, the amount of time it could be used increased.

As a kid they were fun, hard to get up on but fun to ride. I can remember my two brothers and I getting up on Grandma’s swing. We would swing with our little legs so hard that the swing would slam right into the wall behind it. Once you got it to hit once, making it hit many times was not difficult, until Pop came out. We could stop that swing as fast as the speed of light. No sense putting on the “angel mugs,” though, because Pop knew for darn sure we were no angels.

Mom and Dad would leave the three of us with Pop and Grandma for the summer. That porch would become the babysitter. The three of us would play with our trucks, color in our coloring books, knock each other upside the head with a truck, get a switching, eat lunch, someone would drink someone else’s Kool-Aid, and we’d all get switched. It was early in life when I figured out that association with the other two was bad juju!

Pop finally put screening on the porch. There was a minimum of three cans of Raid Flying Insect Spray on the porch at any given time. Bugs are obviously not very intelligent. What Raid didn’t write on the instructions was that all bugs that entered Pop’s porch would die a minimum of three deaths.

The first death was drowning. Pop would spray so much poison on the pest that the Raid would run down the screen. Death number two was from actually being poisoned. Death three was Pop stomping its little intestines into the porch floor. This happened every time Pop saw a bug on the inside of the screen. Life is too funny in retrospect.

There is nothing, I mean nothing, sweeter then a first kiss from a girl sitting on your lap while you are swinging on an old porch swing.

(Pack may be contacted at Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to