April 19, 2014
Cell phones ruin front porch fun PDF Print E-mail

Greetings from the Ridge.
It was right out of Mayberry RFD. Herb and I were sitting in the living room just as the Coonridge sun set on a glorious autumn Sunday when we heard the noises on the porch.  
In Coonridge your yard and porch belong to everyone, including the neighbor children. We know that as long as you’re in town you’re safe so fences are reserved only for cattle and dogs. Children run free.
“Listen to that, Herb. We’ve got visitors on our porch.”
“Are they passing out tracts?”
“They aren’t missionaries. They’re kids. Sounds like little girls. Is that sweet or what?”
For some reason we had no television blaring on that idyllic evening so the voices of the little girls drifted plainly through our screen door. Something came over me and I wanted to become a little girl again. “I’m going to go join them, Herb.”
“You are not. It’s a private party. The last thing those little gals need is a frumpy old woman in support hose to plop herself in the middle of their tea party.”
Herb never attended college, but if he’d have gone I doubt that they’d have awarded him a degree in tact.
“I’ll just sit and listen. Can’t you hear them giggling out there? They’re having a wonderful time. I just want to know what they’re doing.”
I usually take one step too far into everything and tend to get a bit impulsive when excited. But I thought to myself . . . how often in this fast-paced high-tech world do we get to simply sit on the front porch and giggle about nothing? I wondered if perhaps the little girls were playing games or simply sharing the gossip of the day, so I edged myself over to the screen to listen more closely. Our front porch forms sort of an L-shape and I couldn’t quite make out what they were talking about.
“For gosh sakes Freida, sit down. You look ridiculous standing there eavesdropping on kids.”
“Oh Herb, don’t you remember when front porches were the places we lived our lives?” I thought fondly back to the Sunday evenings when the whole family would pack up and just go visiting. The adults would sip iced tea on the porch while the kids reveled in games of cowboys, Indians, aliens, and gangsters in the yard.
I’ve been around the world several times but still nothing compares to the heady exhilaration of sliding down Bob Reeve’s cellar door or climbing into Grandpa’s haymow to capture the fort of alfalfa built by my cousins.
Tree climbing was a major activity and the neighbor’s pond held thrills that no antiseptic Sea World could ever match. These were real frogs and you could catch them.
“Freida, sit down and stop snooping!”
“Herb, I can remember when you used to tie a dishtowel around your back and jump off the front porch as Superman. The Crump brothers used to terrorize the neighborhood with their war cries when the sun went down in Coonridge.”
“I didn’t belong to the AARP back then, Freida. Superman now takes MiraLAX and eats prunes for breakfast. Sit down and leave the girls alone.”
It’s my custom to ignore both Herb and his advice so I edged a step closer to the porch chatter. “They’re giggling, Herb. Something about the neighbor boy. Isn’t that cute?”
“It’s nosy. Sit down, woman.”
“You remember our first date, Herb? On my parents’ front porch?”
“Your mother brought us lemonade every ten minutes. Either she didn’t trust me or she’d just inherited a lemon plantation.”
“But it was so much fun. Isn’t it great to hear a group of little girls sitting in front of our house enjoying life just like we used to? No gadgets or gizmos. How often do we get to see that these days? I’m just dying to find out what they’re doing. You suppose kids still cut out paper dolls, look for four-leaf clovers?”
“Freida Crump, the busiest of busybodies . . . ruins the good time of the neighborhood children by barging into their party.”
I couldn’t stand it any longer. I opened the door, walked out onto the porch and took a look at what they girls were doing. They were chatting to each other on their cell phones. I wanted to cry.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.