Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Afternoons

When I was growing up, Sunday afternoons were a time to be spent with the family. My mom, dad, and I would usually walk across the road and spend the afternoon sitting on the porch with Grandma and Grandpa Burnette.  Their house was situated on a hill overlooking Route 58, just across the road from our house. (For those of you who do not know, Route 58 is one of the main east-west roads through Virginia.  A bit of trivia too:  Route 58 is the longest road in Virginia.)

Grandpa & Grandma Burnette's House (as seen from my parent's home)

One of the games that we used to play while sitting on the porch was one person would take the eastbound cars and another would take the westbound cars. We would set a goal of maybe 30. Whoever's traffic count reached that number first was the winner.  This was one of my favorite games.  We also played checkers quite a bit. Grandpa always kept the black and dull red wooden checkers in a little pasteboard box. Chinese Checkers was another game that we played quite a bit. By far though, the most common activity was conversation.

Company would often stop by on those Sunday afternoons and join us on the porch.  One of my favorite visitors was my Cousin Wilford Burnette.  He always referred to Grandma & Grandpa as Uncle John & Aunt Tressie.  Wilford and Grandpa would get to telling some of the biggest tales that you ever heard! Grandpa would get so tickled sometimes that he could barely finish the story.  Both of them had the knack for telling a tale in such a way that they would have you believing it, no matter how outlandish it seemed.

A favorite snack that I used to share with Grandpa while on the porch was Mountain Dew out of a returnable bottle (Yahoo!  Mountain Dew!) with peanut butter and crackers. My mom had a rule that I could only have one soft drink per day, but Grandpa would always sneak me some Mountain Dew!

After going inside for supper, we would head back out to the porch. We would sit on the porch until 10 or 11pm. Even though we were right beside a well-traveled road, we could hear all kinds of night creatures. The eerie call of the screech owl would send shivers right down my spine! All conversation would stop as we listened to them calling back and forth. Grandpa couldn't help but get in on the action. He could do a fine screech owl impression and many times, he could call the owl right into the trees in the front yard. (He would do the same thing when he heard a hoot owl.) Everyone always got all excited when we heard the call of the whippoorwill.  We didn't hear them that often, so that made it even more special.

One of our neighbors had a big bunch of coon hounds and Beagles and sometimes they would set into barking and just would not shut up. We would get so aggravated by those hounds because, once started, they would not hush for a good 30-40 minutes. Plus, we could not hear other night sounds with all of that howling and barking going on!

Grandpa smoked a pipe and his tobacco of choice was Prince Albert Smoking Tobacco. (Yes, in a can! and no, we did not let him out.) He would usually smoke while we sat on the porch.  He claimed that the smoke would help keep away the mosquitoes. Grandma said that it just sounded like an excuse to smoke to her!  Grandpa always kept a couple of cigars so that if the mosquitoes got really pesky, he would fire one of them up.  Ugh.  I didn't care too much for the way those things smelled. Neither did anyone else!

I still miss and long for those days, surrounded by loved ones, enjoying each other's company and the sounds of nature.

I feel sorry for all of the folks who have never had the experience of sitting on the front porch, safe and secure, with loved ones, watching the world go by

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 


  1. I feel so privileged to have lived in an era when you felt safe doing these things..My grandparents lived within a 'stones throw' of our house and back then it was actually safe to walk home from there in the it's not safe to walk anywhere after dark? I feel sad that our younger generation will never experience a 'night on the porch' and one of the only sounds would be your grandpa spitting his 'tobaccy' off the side of the porch and granny scolding him...Thanks for bringing back such beautiful memories! Dianne

  2. It seems that very few people today have that sense of "family" like we did growing up. And that is terribly sad.

    I feel relatively safe at my house after dark, but I would be paranoid sitting outside unless several people were around too. I miss those hot summer nights on the porch!


All comments will be moderated. Your comment will appear after it is reviewed.