It’s porch sittin’ time

  • Friday, April 4, 2014

  • Updated Monday, April 7, 2014 5:51 am

Photo courtesy of GCDL Esther Sampson Kaminski on porch at Pawleys Island, c. 1955.

I know we’ve had wacky weather this winter, but I trust that we’re finally into porch sittin’ time. We can put our house plants back on the porch and venture out and set a spell.

The house I lived in as a small child had a wide front porch with a joggling board. This was my great-grandmother’s house, and I remember joggling up and down on the porch, looking out at the chickens in the yard, and waiting for my father’s car to come driving up the avenue when he got home from work.

I recently gave walking tours to 165 cute, smart third-graders from all over Georgetown County. We spotted joggling boards on the porches of many of the homes in the Historic District. I was amazed that only one child knew what a joggling board is and what to do with it.

Come to think of it, most of the adults I’ve toured around town have never heard of joggling boards, either. Of course, they’re from “off.” Yep, they’re comyehs (came here from somewhere else), as opposed to benyehs (born and raised here).

For you comyehs, a joggling board is one long, pliant board (usually heart pine) resting at each end on a wooden stand. You “joggle” up and down on it, or if the stands are on rockers, glide back and forth. The one on my great-grandmother’s porch was probably homemade, as most were.

I remember wonderful, old cottages at Pawleys Island with wraparound porches filled with rocking chairs, a joggling board, and a rope hammock or two. Who wants to be inside when you can sit on the porch and enjoy ocean breezes?

Our family ended up in downtown Georgetown, where we lived in another old house with a wide front porch running the length of the house. We no longer had a joggling board, but we had metal porch chairs that were popular in the 1950s.

One of the chairs was a glider, another a rocker, and several more were stationary. My father kept them painted and free from rust. We eagerly awaited warm weather so that we could sit on the porch and watch the world roll by.

We played on the porch, had friends stop by and sit with us, and waved to the people driving by on Front Street. The wooden floorboards were perfect for playing jacks, pick-up sticks, and even a game of marbles.

I just ran across a photograph of my baby brother, Mark Johnson, in 1959. He was two years old, sitting on his rocking horse on the front porch. He looks so tiny and the porch looks so big.

Students from Howard High walked past our house on their way home from school and I can remember days when some of them had on their band uniforms. Naively, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go to school with them, not understanding that segregation would prevent that.

Of course, there were days spent on the front porch that were not so much fun. Those were the days Mama would give us big paper sacks filled with beans, peas, and corn freshly picked from our garden in the country. We had to shell the beans and husk the corn, but Mama was right beside us, probably telling us to stop complaining. I have to admit, the speckled butter beans did look pretty as they fell into the tin pots on our laps.

On hot, summer days, when there was no breeze, we’d slip inside to get a glass of cold, sweet tea or lemonade from the refrigerator to sip on the porch. Because we had no air-conditioning, the porch always seemed cooler.

Rainy days were wonderful. We could hear the rain hitting the roof and watch the drops bounce off the street and the sidewalks. We’d get called inside only if lightning seemed too close.

I miss those days of porch sittin’. For all of you fortunate enough to have a front porch, don’t be afraid of the heat, the bugs, or the rain. Get out there and enjoy it.

To joggling boards and front porches everywhere . . . thanks for the memories.

Debby Summey may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or djsummey@gmail.com.

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