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DIRT ROAD DIARIES: The Front Porch Swing

By CLINTON POWELL
Jobe Publishing Contributor

When I see all the violence and unrest that we are witnessing in today’s society, I am saddened by what I see and wonder how we get here? What circumstances in the lives of these self-proclaimed “protestors” have driven them to be so “offended” so easily? I remember the simpler, kinder days I spent on my Grandma’s front porch and can’t help but wonder if the world wouldn’t be better off with more front porches and front porch swings. Maybe if more of these people had spent time “chilling out” on their Grandma’s front porch while learning life lessons, which can only be experienced through quiet conversations with their elders, who actually lived through truly tough times, they would have a whole different perspective on life.

Several cousins in Grandma’s swing. L-R: Judy Williams (Cherry), Kim Settle (Hays), Rita Powell (Duvall), David Powell, Sharon Buster (Smith). Photo courtesy of Joyce Powell Buster.

Back in my youth, there was no air conditioning to alleviate the heat of those stifling summer days, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. One of my favorite places was on Grandma’s front porch, either laying on the cool concrete or sitting in the porch swing. I have many fond memories of sitting with Grandma in the swing while we gently swayed in the breeze. Whether she was imparting her homespun wisdom upon me or we just sat and enjoyed the quiet solitude as the sun dropped behind the trees on the horizon, there was just something comforting about the motion of that old porch swing. We kept swinging as the twilight faded into dusk, signaling the lightning bugs to begin their visual serenade. As if on cue, cows in the barn lot added their gentle lowing to the peacefulness of the early evening. How precious those moments with my Grandma are to me now and what wouldn’t I give to relive them once again.

Of course, when I was in the swing alone, especially if there was no one to catch me, I tested the durability of the chains and secureness of the ceiling anchors. I would see just how high I could make it go. I can remember trying to get high enough to touch the ceiling and how the chains jerked when the swing plummeted back down and bottomed out. It is a wonder the chains didn’t slip off the hook anchors and come crashing down on the concrete porch. If I wasn’t trying to tap the ceiling, I was jumping out at the highest point of the forward arc, pretending I was a paratrooper jumping behind enemy lines. Ah, the fearlessness of youth, or a more appropriate assessment might be foolhardiness!

The swing was also a favorite hang-out for the cousins. We would jam as many of us as would fit on the seat, with no fear of overloading it. We usually sang songs as we swung back and forth, each trying to be the loudest voice in the “choir.” I can almost hear the childish laughter and giggling emanating from the seat of that old swing as I picture us in our youthful exuberance. Speaking of cousins, the swing is where one of my cousins earned one of his many nicknames with which my Dad was so fond of tagging us youngsters. I think David was three or four at the time he was standing in the swing while my Dad was sitting in the swing, leaning over the back shooting his .22 rifle. The swing became unbalanced and flipped over backwards and as the story goes, Daddy landed on his back on the porch, but managed to catch both David and the rifle before either of them hit the hard, concrete floor. Upon discerning his nephew wasn’t injured, my Dad laughingly dubbed him with the moniker of “Flip,” which was added to all the others my Dad assigned him over the years.

I can’t help but smile as the memories of family and all the love associated with that old porch swing flood through my mind, eventually overflowing and trickling down my cheeks.

3 Comments

  1. Rauni G. on September 1, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Great article! Wow… this brings so many childhood memories of sitting on the front porch, in the swing at Granny’s. I was fortunate to have a lot of those memories as her and my grandfather raised my sisters and I. Over the course of the years, the particular swing has been a fulfilling experience for 3-grandkids and 8-great grandkids, with the next generation soon to come! Thank you for the writing and sharing it! I hope there are a lot more readers that has the same “Just a swingin’ ” memory ❤️

  2. Kay Pierce on September 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Clinton is an awesome writer. Draws you in and you can visualize and feel his words. So enjoy reading his articles , just need more!!!!

  3. Debra on September 4, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful article. It brought back my most precious childhood memories of sitting on my Grandma’s porch in the evening while she read the newspaper and told stories about the “olden days” as I used to call them (no swing but bent willow chair and loveseat). I grew up in California and was blessed to spend a couple of summers with my relatives in Iowa. I loved staying at my Grandma’s the best. Life was so different there – slower paced, time to sit on the porch and chat in the evening. Many times I just sit and try to visualize my Gram’s house in every minute detail. I too, would give anything to relive a few of those evenings spending time with my Gram again. I was thrilled by the lightening bugs which I had never seen before (or since). Also loved staying on my uncle’s farm (second best). What a wonderful time I had running all over that farm like a wild Indian (probably not a politically correct comment but so true)! I loved gathering eggs and walking out to the pasture to bring in the cows – my cousins thought I was out of my mind! I believe you are right that if all of us could experience these wonderful things as children, perhaps our country (maybe our world) would be a much kinder, gentler place today. Thanks again for the walk down memory lane.

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