The porch of our 1950’s suburban ranch settled outside the dining room picture window like a stiff upper lip. Dad placed two canvas sling chairs there. They looked lonesome, like castaways on a concrete island. Our family of five used the space with the discretion bred in our time. Whatever happened on our porch was behavior accessible to anyone passing by so we acted accordingly.
On Easter Sundays we tested the photogenic promise of new clothes by posing for the camera on its steps. At Christmas, a tasteful wreath on the front door illustrated our festive spirit. Our mailman was careful to roll our papers like a sausage and tucked them into our brass mailbox. The man who sold household products we didn’t need had the unique privilege of ringing the doorbell.
After a good number of years, our Grandma Lillian came for an extended Summer visit and our porch transformed its character. She took over the space in increments. At first she sat in one of the sling chairs, which seemed startled but up to the task of holding her small, round self. Then she brought her radio out with her and Dad acquiesced by threading its cord through the dining room window so she could listen to Chicago White Sox games.
Emboldened, she requested, and received, a little table on which to plunk her pepsi cola. This happy turn of events spawned a bold request; and, what do you know? Dad moved our portable television set out there.
At this juncture, the rest of us often dribbled out to join her. The White Sox players did lots of funny stuffy, like spitting and scratching that the radio was apparently reluctant to describe. Soon, with Grandma leading the way, we all took to waving at our wide-eyed neighbors as they happened by. Even Chicago Cubs fans.