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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: A visit

‘Old School’ column: A visit

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Remember when “a visit” didn’t mean a trip? It meant connecting with other people, also known these days as chatting or conversing or my least favorite: “reaching out.”

Visiting didn’t happen by e-mail, text, Zoom or Snapchat. It meant you actually sat down with someone face-to-face and TALKED. A novel concept these days.

In this context, visit could be a verb or a noun, depending on its use. Sometimes it was a noun, as in, “We had such a good visit on Sunday afternoon!” Other times it was used as a verb: “Why don’t you sit and visit awhile?”


So where did this visiting happen? Now that summer’s here, I remember it was especially popular on front porches.

In those days we had no air conditioning, so to find a cool breeze of an evening, or on a blazing hot afternoon, we hit those porches. Ours was equipped with a glider, but others had swings or rocking chairs.

When neighbors saw us on our porch, they’d stop in to visit. Usually my mom would treat them to a cool glass of sweet tea or a bottle of cold Pepsi.

What did we talk about since politics and religion were considered impolite topics? In a town of 20,000, there wasn’t much news.

Sometimes we talked about the weather: “Think it’ll rain tomorrow? We could sure use it. Maybe it would cool things off.”

Or we talked about a recent TV show. “Did you see ‘I Love Lucy’ last night? I thought I’d die laughing when she was eating all those chocolates at the factory.”

I hate to admit it, but we gossiped, too. In fact, that was often the main topic. “Did you know the Smiths got a new Chevy? Sure is pretty. I wonder how much that thing cost – probably at LEAST $2,000.”

Recipes changed hands faster than money. “I loved that cake you brought to the meeting last week. Can I have the recipe?”

A garden generated lots of talk, too. “How are your tomatoes this year? Mine have tomato worms. What should I do about that?”

If you were lucky, you had a storyteller in your family. Ours was my nephew, Mike. His stories, told with a twinkling eye and a sly grin, were never mean, but always funny.

Some people blame the Internet for the loss of visiting in this country, but I blame air conditioning. Once people sat “buttoned up” in their houses, those Old School front porch visits were long gone.

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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