Thursday, June 5, 2008


In the late 1940's families in the Southern U. S. would sit on their porches after supper. They would visit with their neighbors and the kids would all gather and play. By the mid-50's many of these community rituals had ceased and "neighborhood" lost more meaning with each passing year. What caused this change? Air conditioning.

Before air conditioning the home was much hotter in the afternoon and early evening than it was outdoors. After air conditioning the home was cooler. There were still pockets of the south which did not have air conditioning, though.

I grew up in a home built by sawmill workers for sawmill workers around the turn of the century. None of the walls were square. An air conditioner would not cool much area, so after trying one we gave up. We had an attic fan set in the ceiling that pulled air through the windows. Not the same. So we used the porch.

My wife's family also lived in a town that was not pervaded by air conditioning. She loves porches.

Before we bought a home, we would sit out on the balcony of our apartment if the apartment had a balcony. Our first home did not have a porch. But since it had a shady back yard, we bought a bench swing and would sit outside and talk when the day was cool enough.

Then I got a new job and we found an unbelievably affordable home. But this one had no back yard. Also the front yard was lousy and on a busy street. We felt like we would be exhibits if we sat out front.

The home we are moving into has a porch. The street dead ends, so traffic is light. The yard is so shaded that direct sunlight seldom shines on much of it.

We set up our swing yesterday. It was good.

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