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My great-grandmother’s home and front porch

Featured Article

Front porch memories

Southern family traditions

Article by Missy Gurley

Photography by Abby Neal and Missy Gurley

Originally published in Cullman City Lifestyle

Of all the childhood memories that I hold dear to my heart, my grandparents’ front porch is one of best. It holds a special place in the hearts of many members of my family. This porch was more than just an outdoor structure; it was a place of love, laughter and cherished memories.

On warm summer evenings, as the sun began its descent, the porch came alive with the joyous sounds of laughter and conversation. It was a place where generations converged, and time seemed to slow down. This was where I would often find myself, sitting alongside my family including grandparents and great-grandmother, shucking corn and sharing stories.

As we sat on the porch, my sister Christy and I would scour through the peas looking for wormholes or imperfections. We would shell purple hull peas until our thumbs were stained a rich shade of purple. The golden ears of corn were piled high in a large wicker basket, waiting to be transformed into a delicious feast. I would watch my grandparents' hands move with ease, effortlessly stripping away the husks, revealing the tender kernels beneath.

As we sat, neighbors would pass by, waving or blowing their horns while exchanging friendly greetings. From the porch we could see everything – neighbors, birds, my uncle’s dog and the garden were all in full view.

Often we would eat out on the front porch – everything from watermelon straight out of the garden to homemade ice cream. I can still hear the sound of the ice cream machine! The ice cream churned on that front porch just tasted better – was it because we had to wait for it to be made? Or was it because it was made with love?

As the sun dipped below the horizon on those long ago evenings, we would apply bug spray and light a few citronella candles – trying not to be eaten alive by mosquitos! We would listen to the sounds of the nights – cicadas and hooting owls – all the while watching lightning bugs dance around in the dark.

The porch was more than just a physical space; it was a means of love and connection. It witnessed the passing of time, the laughter of grandchildren and the wisdom of grandparents. It was a place where worries were set aside, and the simple pleasures of life were celebrated.

Years have passed since those summer evenings on the front porch, but the memories remain etched in my heart. My grandparents are no longer with us, and now the house and porch belong to someone else. But my parents have carried on the tradition, their porch is now our family’s gathering spot.

We also have a front porch at our home and we are making our memories. From family photos to front porch rocking chairs – I enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning here and watching the sunrise.

In the end, it was not just a front porch in Alabama; it was a haven of love, a sanctuary of togetherness and a testament to the enduring power of simple moments spent with those we hold dear.

Are there any memories more dear than those made on your grandparents’ front porch?

  • My great-grandmother’s home and front porch
  • My parents' front porch
  • A neighbor with my grandfather with their record watermelons
  • My front porch