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A Visit

Remember when “a visit” didn’t mean a trip? It meant connecting with other people, also known these days as chatting or conversing or my least favorite: “reaching out.” Visiting didn’t happen by email, text, Zoom or Snapchat. It meant you actually sat down with someone face-to-face and TALKED. A novel concept these days.

In this context, visit could be a verb or a noun, depending on its use.  Sometimes it was a noun, as in, “We had such a good visit on Sunday afternoon!” Other times it was used as a verb: “Why don’t you sit and visit awhile?”

So where did this visiting happen? Now that warmer weather is here, I remember it was especially popular on front porches. In those days we had no air conditioning, so to find a cool breeze of an evening, or on a blazing hot afternoon, we hit those porches.

Ours was equipped with a glider, which Susie and I are enjoying in this picture. Other porches had swings or rocking chairs, and most were screened like ours to keep the bugs out. When neighbors saw us on our porch, they’d stop in to visit. Usually my mom would treat them to a cool glass of Sweet Tea or a bottle of cold Pepsi. 

What did we talk about since politics and religion were considered impolite topics? In a town of 20,000, there wasn’t much news. Sometimes we talked about the weather: “Think it’ll rain tomorrow?  We could sure use it.  Maybe it would cool things off.” Or we talked about a recent TV show.  “Did you see I Love Lucy last night? I thought I’d die laughing when she was eating all those chocolates at the factory.”

I hate to admit it, but we gossiped, too. In fact, that was often the main topic. “Did you know the Smith’s got a new Chevy? Sure is pretty. I wonder how much that thing cost—probably at LEAST $3000.” Recipes changed hands faster than money. “I loved that cake you brought to the meeting last week. Can I have the recipe?” A garden generated lots of talk, too. “How are your tomatoes this year?  Mine have worms.  What should I do about that?”

If you were lucky, you had a storyteller in your family. Ours was my brother-in-law, Joe, and later, his son, Mike. Their stories, told with a twinkling eye and a sly grin, were never mean, but always funny. 

Some people blame the internet for the loss of visiting in this country, but I blame air conditioning.  Once people sat “buttoned up” in their houses, those Old School front porch visits were long gone. 


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