Remembering When Porches Were Platforms For Forging Friendship And A Community

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What ever happened to front - or for that matter, back porches? Long gone are the days of sitting in a rocking chair or glider swing, chatting with neighbors as they went by, perhaps sharing a morning cup of coffee or an after-dinner iced tea.

My first memories of a front porch were at my grandparents' farmhouse. Being on a lake in Wisconsin, it was of necessity, screened, and made a great, safe place for a small child to play. After Grandpa died at an early age, Grandma sold the farm. To my delight the family that bought it had a daughter just about my age. Elsie and I spent many happy hours on that front porch making clothes from fabric scraps for our homemade clothespin dolls. One time we even staged a whole wedding! Who needed Barbie and Ken?

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Newly married, Len and I didn't have a front porch in our second floor Chicago apartment, but we did have a back one, bordered by other back porches with which we shared a pulley type clothesline. Everyone had their own day for hanging out the wash, and if it happened to rain on your day, you just had to make do with hanging it in the community basement laundry room. No automatic dryers in those days!

Cooks, more experienced than I, dispensed advice across the railings to help me survive early kitchen experiments, gossip was exchanged and friendships forged.

A few years later, with small children, we moved to a neighborhood of other young couples. Evenings, everyone would congregate "out front", visiting and watching our kids ride their bikes around the block. It was like one big family.

Nowadays, it seems most of us retreat to our secluded back yard to be outside. Perhaps it is because the pace of life has become so hectic that we savor the solitude. Still, I can't help but miss the camaraderie, the sense of community that those porches gave us.

Payson Senior Center and Thrift Store

Sandy Phillips and Judy Spivey of the Lion's Club will speak on "Sight and Hearing" at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 16 in the Center Dining Room, 514 W. Main Street.

This is also the date of the monthly Birthday Bash. The menu for the day is taco salad with cheese and beans, peppers and lettuce in a taco shell; Mexi-corn and salsa, beverage and birthday cake. Please make lunch reservations in advance by calling (928) 474-4876 or stopping in at the Center Lobby. Those with July birthdays should put their name in the Birthday Barrel to be eligible for a gift drawing.

A Jazz Band Concert is on the schedule for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Center. The concert is open to the public at no charge.

Glenda Roark from Payson Art League will be guest speaker at 11:30 a.m., Friday, July 18. She will discuss art and artists of the Rim Country.

Join the fun for Bingo beginning at 10 a.m. July 21 in the Center Dining Room. You might win a White Elephant prize.

For a schedule of activities such as aerobics, line dancing, card games and more, pick up a July calendar at the Center Information Desk.

The Senior Thrift Store, 512 W. Main Street, will be open until 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 1 for First Friday on Main Street activities. There will be refreshments, door prizes, live music and a 10 percent discount will be given on purchases from $1 to $100 between 5 and 8 p.m.

Beginning Aug. 1, the Thrift Store's end-of-the-month sale commences with men and women's clothing with blue tags selling for 25 cents each; yellow-tagged clothing, 50 percent off; and clothes with green tags, 25 percent off the marked price.

Payson Regional Senior Circle

Betty Pontious, RN, will be available Thursday, July 17 to give pedicures at the Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway. Advance appointments are required and may be made by calling (928) 472-9290.

Love to dance? Ballroom dancing will be taught and enjoyed from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, July 18 and July 25. Call the above number for information.

Senior Circle's Member Lunch is scheduled for Monday, July 21, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Guests are welcome. Please make advance reservations.

An Arthritis Live and Learn program is offered from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 26 at the Mazatzal Casino. CPR will be taught from 8 a.m. to noon. Please RSVP to the Circle office, (928) 472-9290.

Payson's health care professionals provide a series of educational and informational talks each month. July's program will be on emergency care and will be held at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 29. Call the Senior Circle for information on the Lunch and Learn program.

Ruth Hulse is volunteer of the month for July. Ruth has been a Senior Circle member for three years. Besides serving as receptionist on Monday afternoons, Ruth is active with the knitting and crocheting group and has donated numerous shawls, lap blankets, baby items and more to the Circle Shop and to the Senior Christmas Tree project.

"Summer afternoons, summer afternoons: to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language!" Henry James

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