Time spent in a swing is the best

September 16, 2003

Last summer I wrote a piece about how people don't seem to sit on their front porches anymore. I said that I didn't have a porch swing and when a friend read this, she called and invited me to come and share hers. I've never taken her up on her invitation, but I still want to go so we can catch up with one another and reminisce. Life goes swinging by and we put off doing the very things we would most enjoy.

One of the women in my writers' group in Lexington writes stories in which the storyteller is the front porch swing. The swing relates family events it has witnessed in the years it has been hanging around on the front porch. It is enjoyable to read of the many happenings, some comical, some sad.

Growing up, we always had a front porch swing. We moved several times and each time, the swing came along for the ride. We also had tire swings, but my best memories are of times spent on our porch swing. On the nights we had homemade ice cream, we would eat huge bowls of the delicious icy cold stuff, then run to the swing where we would huddle together, all bundled up in Mother's quilts. The passing neighbors must have thought us quite demented when they saw us wrapped up like it was the dead of winter, rather than a boiling hot summer night.


In grade school, at recess I would head for the swings after a few bad experiences with the seesaws. You never knew when some smart aleck was going to jump off their end of the seesaw, causing you to go down with a bang and a badly bumped bum.

As we grew older, the front porch swing took a back seat to our other activities. We went swinging along with the crowd, staying involved in school work, ball games and movies. In the days before we had air-conditioned homes, it was great to sit in a nice, cool theater and drool over Cary Grant and William Holden. I do recall a few summer nights when I sat on our front porch swing with my husband-to-be.

After we were married, we would join his large family group for Sunday dinner at my mother-in-law's, and pig out on her good homemade rolls and fried chicken. After we finished the dishes - the women did them back then - we would escape the hot kitchen and make a beeline for the front porch swing. As we moved back and forth from one subject to another, we listened to the sounds of our children as they romped and played, somersaulting on the green grass in the back yard.

My tomboy girls loved swings even when they were quite small. They would yell, "higher, higher," until they would be soaring through the air. I would feel a little shadow of fear creeping in, as though they were already flying out of the nest.

When we bought a house and had our very own back yard, my husband set up a small swing set for the kids. They soon outgrew it, but could go to Jackson Park, which was right next door and had swings galore. At that time, this wonderful park had ball games, playground equipment and a variety of activities. This made for many happy summers for our girls and all the neighborhood children.

Even with the sophisticated games and toys kids have today, I believe they can still enjoy flying through the air in a swing. In Robert Louis Stevenson's poem about going up in a swing, he says, "Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing, ever a child can do."

Norma Buchanan lives

in Danville.|9/14/03***

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