Many years ago, Sadie and Bessie Delany (who would become famous at age 100 and 102 as “the Delany Sisters”) moved from an apartment in the Harlem section of New York City to a still-rural section of the Bronx. The reason? They wanted a porch.
Actually they needed a porch, as they explained with some desperation to the builder. “Mister,” they told him, “we’re from North Carolina and we’ve been cooped up in apartments since the First World War. Now we’ve got this cottage out in the country, and where we’re from, a house ain’t a home unless it has got itself a porch!”
They did indeed get their porch. Years later, I knew this charming anecdote had to go into the book that I was writing with the sisters, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years (and indeed, you can find the story on page 174.) Having lived in South Carolina as a child, I understood the significance of a porch. Like a fireplace Up North, a porch in the South represents home and family. It is a welcoming place to live, share, and gather.
We all need a place, or places, to belong in this world in order to thrive. With the creation of the Internet and social media, we have the opportunity to expand our own little worlds into something new and quite wonderful: a virtual community of people we would never have gotten to know otherwise.
I often wonder what the Delany Sisters would have thought of the Internet and Cyberspace, and the answer comes to me straight from the Spirit World. I can almost hear their voices. They would say it is a good thing but only in moderation and only if you use it in a positive way. (They would be appalled, no doubt, at the snarky tone, cruel remarks, and vulgarity found all too frequently on the web and most social media. In fact, I suspect the Sisters would want to wash some people’s mouths out with soap, if they were to read the posts and comments on many sites!)
Fortunately, we do have options. Just as we turn off the radio and television, or boycott certain types of books and movies, we can be selective about where on the Internet we spend our time and with whom. That is why I said yes to this site, where I will be writing on alternate Wednesdays with Julie Cantrell, starting with this post. As Sadie and Bessie used to say, “There are good people in the world. Your job is to find them.”
And I have.
See y’all on the porch!
Question of the day: What is your favorite porch memory?