Today’s guest post was written by Sallie Swor
Reading about porches while sitting on my porch this morning made me think of steps, or as some people call them, stairs.
When I was growing up we had wide stone steps at the front porch. We sat on them and they held pots of flowers in the summer. The stones were picked up off the farm when the 6-room pine log house was built by my dad and his brothers in the early 1930’s. Who knows how many feet went across those steps over the years!
We would sit and listen for expected company to blow their horn as they came down the curvy mountain highway above the house before reaching our “lane”. Due to trees and being about 1/4 mile off the highway we couldn’t see cars until they were almost to the house.
When we had family in for reunions people sat on the steps to eat. It was a great spot to cut a watermelon that had cooled in the spring water. Rain would wash off the juice.
The steps were common extra seating for front porch crowds.
Another set of steps had to be built in the little dining room of the house as the original plan was just for 4 rooms. After cutting a doorway in the middle of the wall between the living and dining room it was decided to extend the walls for two upstairs bedrooms.
The doorway was made into a book case and the log wall cut for another door to be built near the end of the wall to accommodate a stairway on the opposite side. Being in the dining room it was a perfect place for kids to eat “company” dinner by sitting on the edge, dangling their feet in the faces of those walking around the table (there was no rail so the youngest kids sat on the bottom steps) and setting the plates on the next step up.
We were all right-handed so it was a perfect arrangement. We also had a bird’s eye view of family and friends filling their plates. In the winter the dining room doors were kept closed to conserve the wood heat and at bedtime it was a race up those stairs to unheated rooms for my youngest brother and me. We had electric blankets and took turns into the cold to turn both on and get our pajamas to put on downstairs by the fire.
We heard stories from an older sister and three older brothers about the heavy layers of quilts they had to sleep under before electricity reached our little holler at the foot of the mountain.
One story I grew up hearing was about an older brother who got mad and stomped up the stairs but Daddy made him come back and go up the right way. And the one of a brother who “didn’t hardly hear” daddy call him the first time. But I think our favorite use of both sets of steps as kids was for playing “school”.
This was a simple game Daddy taught us and my grandsons love to play on my porch stairs now. Sometimes my old knees won’t let me sit on the bottom step so I have to start in 1st grade and the kids allow me to just pretend I’m in kindergarten with the others.
Usually the youngest gets to be the first “teacher”. Even though a 3 or 4-yr old wants a 1” rock his hands need about a 1/4” rock so it isn’t detected in his hand. He puts his hands behind him then presents his fists to each “student” sitting on the bottom step in “kindergarten“ one at a time. If the student chooses the hand with the rock (of course it could be anything that’s handy that can be hidden in their hand), he advances up a step or grade. The first student to reach the top, the number of grades depends on the number of steps and I guess mine is a primary school due to only 4-5 steps, gets to be the next teacher.
Two little boys can wear me out playing this game! Granny’s attention span can be a lot shorter than theirs! I have to declare recess or snack time. The older one now has to dance around and takes a while before he presents his fists. Often the youngest wants to play when it’s just the two of us. Although my grandchildren never saw the stairs I played on I hope that someday they will have stairs they can play on with their children and grandchildren.
A funny story I just thought about was once Mother said they heard a car drive up and Daddy went out to talk to a man he was expecting.
Mother went with him after seeing the man’s wife in the truck, too. Many times people came either being lost, being “nosy” or just unexpected- family, friends or strangers.
The man got out and mother followed Daddy down the stone steps, Daddy (just teasing) said.” Hey, that ain’t the woman I saw you with the other day!” Momma had heard the gossip but Daddy, being a stay-at-home farmer, hadn’t heard that the man had been caught with another woman. It was too late when Mamma kicked Daddy and told him to be careful what he said! They laughed later, saying they wondered what happened when the couple got home that day.
Sallie’s post got me to thinking about steps and I took a trip down memory lane studying on the many sets of steps that have been part of my life.