Let’s go back about twenty, thirty, forty, years. Let’s go back to the days of porch swing talks where the adults are smoking real paper cigarettes and flipping ashes out the sand. Where the kids are sitting on the ice cream churn cranking the handle…round and round and round.
My grandparents had a big back covered patio and on nights like tonight when the humidity was not so bad and the fireflies were sparkling we would all go out and sit. When I say all I mean all the adults and kids. Often there would be eight to twelve of us depending on the night. Everyone had a tall glass of ice tea and some of us had a small glass bottle of soda. The crunch crunch of the ice around the churn would set the background rhythm of the conversation. Children didn’t do much talking, mostly listening. We sat on chairs, concrete steps and on the flat of our behinds on the porch. Sometimes we would crawl around the edge of the patio in search of doodlebugs in the soft sand.
The conversation was about everything and nothing all at the same time. Someone got a letter from a friend, do tell us about that, how have they been? One of the men would mention what they saw on the news and a debate might ensue or might not. Hey, did they figure out who shot JR? Not, yet Auntie…not yet. Did you see the new car in so and so’s driveway? I bet that set them back a pretty penny. No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition and the doors were never locked. The big bowl of snapped peas filled with a snap snap snap on my grandmother’s lap. On and on the conversation went late into the evening. The screen door clapped open and shut as people went in and out.
And so it went until the ice cream scoop and bowls were washed. The children were all ushered in to brush their teeth and wash their dirty feet before climbing under clean sheets laid on top of folded quilt pallets on the floor of the den. The windows and doors were open wide, screens shut tight to keep the skeeters out, the fans pushed the night air around the house and through the rooms. The crickets chirped. Children giggled until they gave out and snored.
This was my childhood on summer nights. There was no social media friendships, it was real let’s talk on the porch over a glass of tea relationships. It wasn’t let’s do lunch. It was come play dominoes and let’s discuss it. No one called before the dropped by, now no one calls or drops by. The majority of people knew how to hold a conversation. Now, most of that takes place online and many people can’t start or hold a face-to-face conversation.
I am thinking of all the things we have lost due to the lifestyle we have now. I want to hold on to some of it before it all goes away. I seem to crave the more primitive version of Americana. Bring back letters in the mail from family far away and postcards sent while on vacation. While we are at it let’s bring back the family road trips and homemade food with no boxes or prepackaged parts. What about one phone for everyone in the house with the long cord attached to the wall. Let’s chase lightning bugs and drink water from the hose. Be brave and ask for directions.
I am so over modern life.
If you need me I will be out back on the porch, reading a book with pages, sipping iced tea and listening to the quiet.
Good night John boy.