Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 14
MILL CREEK STORIES
On the Porch
The days before air conditioning held treasures of their own, not the least of
which revolved around the stringing of the beans.
by Molly Dugger Brennan
Growing up, no one I knew had air conditioning. That was a luxury that
simply could not be justified in our
farming community. Instead, you
spent a lot of time on the porch, hiding from the sun's rays and hoping for
a breeze. If it were a real scorcher of a day,
you ran an extension cord out through a window so
you could plug in a fan which helped keep the bugs
away and gave the illusion of air flow.
While the size differed, everyone's porch looked
the same. The floor boards were painted a shade of
gray, and the ceiling was always painted a light blue
called "Haint blue" by the old timers. More modern
people referred to it as "sky blue." A haint is a ghost
or evil spirit and pale water blue was supposed to
keep them away from your house. Another explanation for popularity of the color is the old wives' tale
that wasps won't build a nest on the blue because it
looks like the sky, not a solid nesting spot. All I know
is if you painted your porch ceiling any color other
than haint blue, people would talk about you like
you didn't have the sense God gave a heifer.
Porches are perfect for watching the world and
reading, two of my favorite activities. Lazing on the
porch with a good book was a day well spent. The
only time I was not left to read was when all hands
were needed to help with Grandma's canning.