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They came in all shapes and sizes, and their place of importance in the lives of Owen countians and their communities can never be underestimated.
On hot sultry evenings after supper, they embraced families who sought their hospitable shade while waiting for the welcome relief of a cool breeze. It was here that parents sat in sturdy rockers or on a swing to share events of the day and dreams of tomorrow. Interspersed in their conversations were the laughter of children as the scrambled up and down steps that led to the front yard or quietly sat on a sturdy floor to play Monopoly, checkers or cards.
These were gathering places for Owen County farmers to swap stories of the worst winters or the best crops and conversations were only briefly interrupted by a steady stream of tobacco juice.
This was where politics and the American dream were discussed; and as sounds of the twilight settled in, neighborhood young ‘uns scampered across lawns playing tag and catching fireflies.
The front porch is as American as apple pie. It was a refuge when a favorite friend or family member passed away and folks gathered to share tears and condolences. It was a rainy day get away for little girls to play house or a skating rink for young boys who would strap on one skate and zoom across its smooth surface.
It was a place of stolen kisses and dreams of faraway places where one could curl up on a porch swing and enjoy a good book.
After a hard day’s work it offered a few minutes of peaceful rest for dad as he propped stocking feet upon the railing while waiting for supper.
It gave housewives opportunities to sit with friends and reminisce about the births and deaths in the community; and even in areas of Owen County where homes were separated by acres of fields sitting on the front porch was an invitation for passersby to stop and visit.
In the city of Owenton, one small front porch attached to a well-kept white house faced Seminary Street. It was here that Dorothy Stewart lived.
A long-time member of the historical society, Dorothy recently passed away. She was a member of the Macedonia Baptist Church where she played the organ for 68 years. She taught school for more than 30 years, and was a member of the DAR. According to her neighbors the Keiths, Dorothy was a good person with a nice smile who enjoyed showing her collection of teacups and saucers.
Perhaps over the years, Dorothy spent time on her front porch and watched the changes that took place in Owenton. Maybe she discussed the good old days with friends as they sat on comfortable chairs under its sturdy roof.
But those days are gone.
For quite some time, Dorothy Stewart’s front porch, like those of many Owen countians, has sat empty.
Air conditioning, TV, and computers have drawn people indoors; and porches once filled with laughter and community interaction, now stand forlorn.
As progress marched so grandly into homes and communities, somehow something was lost.
Claude Stephens, education director at an arboretum in Louisville is trying to change that. By evening, Claude is known by his porch sitting alias, Crow Hollister. He is the founder of the Professional Porch Sitters Union Local 1339.
Everyone is welcome to join the group who meets whenever they can. The Porch Sitters don’t have a motto, just a suggestion: “Sit down a spell. That can wait.”
The Owen County Historical Society would like to thank all those who have recently donated both monetary gifts and articles of historic significance to the museum. We are sincerely grateful for all those who continue to support our efforts.
Thursday, Sept. 12, the historical society will hold its annual picnic for members and their families. Meat will be provided by the society and everyone is asked to bring a covered dish. The festivities will start at 6 p.m. and will be held on the pavilion in the backyard of the museum. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for an evening of fun and fellowship.