|Porch swing up for the winter, Mayetta, Kansas, Nov 1940. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC|
According to the calendar, as well as the sight of birds who'd left us for the season, it's time to lower the old porch swing and set a spell. As you may have guessed, this post is about one of those favorite pieces of porch furniture - the swing, and the people who use them.
The front porch is of American origin from 19th mid-century, but it's most glorious years were those from the 1880's until the 1940's. These were the years of new neighborhoods with shortened work days where people enjoyed sitting out and watching the world go by, if only for a few hours of the evening.
In this first image, soon-to-be-president Woodrow Wilson shares family time with his wife on the swing, while his three daughters sit and stand nearby. Although probably staged, it shows a typical front porch setting with the bonus of 1912 fashion.
|Woodrow Wilson, seated posed on swing on porch, facing front, with his wife and three daughters, c1912. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC|
A similar setting is that of Arnold Genthe and two women friends sharing a porch swing. The image is slightly blurry, yet comical because Arnold Genthe was a successful photographer and this time he is the object of the image and not the creator of it. I wonder what he thought when the finished product emerged from the chemicals and wash of his darkroom.
|Arnold Genthe and two women friends seated on a swing on the porch of his bungalow in Long Beach, New York, between 1911-1942. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC|
The moment I saw this next image, my heart reacted to the despair in the woman's face. The year is 1912 and a blanket emblazoned with White Star Line covers her lap. Charlotte Collyer and her daughter are survivors of the Titanic sinking. Husband and father, Harvey Collyer, was carrying their life savings of $5,000 when the ship went down. Along with losing all the money needed for their new fruit farm in Idaho, Charlotte and her daughter lost all their possessions which had been stored in the hold of the ship. They were left destitute. Charlotte pushed on to Idaho to fulfill her husband's dream, selling her story of survival to make ends meet, and we are left with this image of her shock and grief.
|Mrs. Charlotte Collyer with her daughter Marjorie, 1912. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.|
A porch swing with a gentle summer breeze can be a great place to read and that's exactly what this mother and child are doing on their front porch at Sabine Farms in Marshall, Texas. The caption accompanying this photo brings attention to the garden in the background as well as the book.
Of course, reading is enjoyed by all ages whether it's a book, newspaper or letter. Some people can't read on a moving swing as they get motion sickness if they look down, but that's the beauty of a porch swing...it can be as still as the person sitting on it wants it to be. Or, for the more adventurous, a slight push of a toe can glide it into motion.
|Front porch, Elgin, Illinois, 1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.|
Sitting on a porch swing is a lovely place to be, don't you think? The 1920 Montgomery Ward catalogue shows 2 distinct styles of porch swings and one is almost double the price as the other. But is it due to comfort or beauty?
|Porch Swings, 1920 Montgomery Ward catalogue. Source: archive.org|
Please share your memories of a porch swing, if have some, and if you don't, any thoughts on the subject?
Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are written under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience. Discover more at: