The Porch Swing

Everyone who lived on West Willis in Perry, Iowa, had a large front porch. If you had a large front porch, you also had a “swing”. The swings were able to accommodate 3-4 people and after a warm summer day and the dinner hour was over, people would go out on their porch and “swing”!

Adults would sit on their swing and watch their children play on the front lawn catching lightening buts, playing, hop-scotch, jacks and other games, and watch traffic which flowed on the busy street. Neighbors would stroll over and catch up on neighborhood news and share your “swing”. It was a lovely Norman Rockwell scene.

When it was a rainy day, Mom would say “Go out on the porch and play”. One of our favorite ways to play was to play “Railroad”. We would have an engineer who operated the swing by pushing it to and fro by her body motion. She would stop the train to discharge her passengers getting off at various existing cities such as Chicago, New York, Miami, etc.

Teen age was our next good use of the swing. Our boyfriends would stop over after our parents had gone into the house. We would sit on the swing in the dusk – giggling – arms over the back of the swing – not the person – occasional quick kiss. We thought it was very romantic and wore our best perfume, “Evening In Paris”, if we expected a special guy!

One Sunday afternoon, we had extra friends and relatives over and we were all on the porch swing and porch railings enjoying the moment when – “crash” the swing came down dumping all the occupants in various sprawling positions! My mother was one of those who went down. Everyone was frightened about the possibility of broken arms or legs. After a quick check everyone was OK except the swing. Even neighbors had come running over from their porches to offer assistance.

The only casualty was the swing.

“We’ll buy you another new swing,” we all offered.

“Oh, no! I’ve had that swing for 35 years and I want that swing!” she replied.

“But Mom, it’s really broken. It’s in pieces.” We replied.

To conclude the story – my brother and husband worked for several days repairing the damaged swing – drilling and hammering and painting. The repair work was done beautifully so Mom got her original swing back on the porch. The routine of swinging and visiting with neighbors resumed.

The last I ever saw of “the swing” was in a yard sale many years after the “crash”. The swing was purchased by a neighbor who knew the history of the “swing”. I hope it kept on “swinging”. It had a lot of good pleasure and mileage!

Elsie Johnson
Southbury, CT, February 2012

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