Sunday, October 21, 2007

What ever happened to front porches?

If the world had a front porch like we did back then
We'd still have our problems but we'd all be friends
Treatin' your neighbor like he's your next of kin
Wouldn't be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch like we did back then

From the Tracy Lawrence song If the World Had a Front Porch

One of the many things I enjoy while visiting my in-laws in rural Wisconsin is driving through the small town where they live. On many a street in that town you see houses built in the 50s and 60s. Many of these modest-sized homes included one thing you rarely see in new dwellings built today: a front porch.

You remember those, don’t you? Someone could step out their front door onto a wooden floor spanning the length of the front of the house. There may be lawn chairs out there or even a large swing to sit in. Residents of such a home could look to their left or right and likely see neighbors enjoying their own front porches on a warm Summer day or evening. Every so often a friend or acquaintance may drive down the street and honk their horns “hello.” It was all a part of being neighborly. I even remember a time when folks would welcome someone who moved into the neighborhood. Residents would go knock on the door of their new neighbors and welcome them, sometimes with a plate of warm brownies or other freshly baked goods.

Today, the neighborly facets of houses and people seem to be a thing of the past. Do you notice how the vast majority of homes are built with a deck off the back of the house? And those who may not have decks are equipped with a patio, also located in the back yard. Attached garages allow people a significant amount of anonymity. One can pull into his/her garage and shut the automatic garage door before even getting out of the car. Oh, and that thing about welcoming new neighbors? About four years ago my wife and I brought a plate of cupcakes over to a mid-20s couple who moved in next door. When the wife answered the door you would have thought we were presenting a severed head, given her reaction. We literally saw her and the husband one other time over the next few years until they moved out.

Given all of the modern conveniences and technological gadgets which make our lives simpler, I don’t often long for the days of my youth. But I can’t help but wonder how many people miss out on their lives being enhanced by not developing friendships/relationships with those in their neighborhoods.


1 comment:

StarBittrune said...

We're trying to revive the front porch. Our new house plan includes one (and a swing). If we can ever get our construction off the ground, we may yet get to build it.