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Sherry Hill: Sadly, front porches are a thing of the past

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every home around me has a back deck with the exception of one -- it has a front porch.

What was it that inspired everyone to build a deck on the back of their houses? To get away from it all, is my surmise. I always wanted a deck out back -- then got it when my house was remodeled. I loved sitting there. It was like being in the woods and ever so peaceful.

Then it became too peaceful -- unless people are here with me, I see no one.

Within the past several years, I have seen photographs of front porches, and I was instantly taken back to my grandparents' house, for it had a huge one. Everyone in the family sat out there, when weather permitted, and people would stop by and talk about this or that.

"Visiting" it was called, and it's not done much, if at all, in today's world. Trust me, I was a visitor to just about everyone's front porch in my grandparents' neighborhood. Kids played on them, people discussed events and problems, and even ate out there. It was a wonderful space for happy or lonely people.

In today's world, I would compare a front porch to therapy. And no, I haven't had therapy, but thinking back to front porches, so many problems were solved and friendships made on them.

I see a lot of them on much older homes in my city and have such a desire to go and sit down on one. But since I don't know the inhabitants that would not be a safe thing to do in today's world. Still, I long for a front porch, as probably many others do as well. Being out behind one's house on a deck is not interacting with people. It's isolation at its ultimate.

And yet in today's troubled world, unless you live in a gated neighborhood, a deck is about the only place you have to get away from it all and feel safe.

Therein is the shame of it all. Who wouldn't love to sit on a front porch and talk to passing neighbors? It certainly would heal a lot of wounded people, in that they could talk about their problems instead of hiding them deep inside.

At least I have my memories of my childhood spent on a front porch, and they will stay with me forever. It was nirvana. It was the rule and not the exception.

If you have a front porch, count yourself lucky, for you see day by day the passing people and pets and know what is going on in your neighborhood.

I mourn not having one built onto my house when it was remodeled. What was I thinking?

Hill, of Charleston, may be emailed at climb914@aol.com.


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