Friday, June 12, 2020

The History of Outdoor Living

By Kathy Kovach

It’s finally June! In a year that has already felt twelve months long, how many of us are looking forward to backyard barbeques, badminton, and kiddie pools? Did you know that outdoor living as we know it today is a fairly new concept, beginning at the end of World War II?

Prior to the war, the land surrounding homes was used for more practical matters. The garden plot filled the family table with a bounty of fresh vegetables

and fruits, or they were canned for winter while the garden lay dormant. A chicken coop in the corner provided eggs and poultry. Old Bessie the cow freely gave milk. Or maybe it as Gertrude the cantankerous goat.

In short, the backyard was merely an extension of everyday life. A place to hang clothes on the line, or to burn the trash—preferably not on the same day.

In fact, most families rocked on the front porch and conversed with their neighbors.

Then America joined World War II. Concrete was scarce as it was reserved for

the war effort. And aluminum supplied our military with aircraft parts, shipbuilding infrastructure, and mess kits. A Tin Foil Drive was instituted and movie theaters handed out free tickets for waded up foil balls—some collected from chewing gum wrappers. When, the war was over, affluence grew in America. Backyard pools were no longer just for wealthy Hollywood starlets. Concrete was now affordable and went into the construction of the kidney shaped pool. Aluminum that was once a precious commodity could now be used to make barbeque tools, patio awnings, and beverage cans. To further drive the point home that war time had transferred to play time, the Weber grill shape was fashioned after a marine buoy. 

Pre-war Americana swiftly evolved into post-war suburbia. The chicken coop became a shed. Old Bessie and Gertrude were replaced with the milk man. And who needed a garden when produce could easily be bought at the corner grocery?

As the suburban backyard lifestyle began to ease into comfort, so did the outdoor living space. Patios turned into screened-in porches. Upper and lower decks were adorned with cushy furniture. And the outdoor barbeque grill became a built-in, with the optional pizza oven. 

But as human history will attest, everything comes back around. It’s now trendy to have a garden, but now it’s an herb garden. We can pinch off what we need and sprinkle it onto the food we’re cooking in our built-in barbeque grill. Owning chickens is still practical, but no one is going to fry Henrietta! And Old Bessie and Gertrude have moved aside for Rainbow and Spitz, two alpacas whose hair is woven into a profitable hobby.

Here’s to summer and the backyard!

My new deck, which prompted this article.
I love it!

In A Bouquet of Brides, the heroine in my story, "Periwinkle in the Park" is a naturalist named Peri whose back yard is soon to become Rocky Mountain National Park. Talk about outdoor living!

A Bouquet of Brides Romance Collection
Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?

"Periwinkle in the Park" by Kathleen Kovach
1910, Colorado, 
Periwinkle Winfield is a hiking guide helping to commission a national park. But a run-in with a mountain man who is determined to keep the government off his land may place her in great danger.

Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband Jim raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.


  1. Yes, I love my backyard, but here in Maine we deal with ticks and blackflies or mosquitos, depending on the season. I dream of a screen house to protect me, but so far haven't gotten the nerve to spend the money on one. Love your deck! And thanks for the post.

  2. I lived in Florida and Louisiana for several years so I understand the backyard pest problem. Here in Colorado it's mostly mosquitoes that bother me outside. (Miller moths are inside. Yeesh!) I love the ceiling fans that keep the little buggers away.