The courting porch– circa 1939- in Georgia, USA
Whenever my grandmother told us stories, she would slip into a sad reminisce about when she was finally allowed to “court.” My teenage ears were not very attentive because I did not understand what she meant. For me with my Northern United States upbringing, a court was a place where juries and judges met to decide the fate of bad people.
But for her, as a young lady from the Southern United State, what she meant, was the time when a young lady was allowed to date.
Ahhh. That I understood.
Courting been a struggle for my grandmother because her father was very protective. He chose to add a special porch to the house. It was a big, wide wrap-around porch that acted almost like a family room. For my grandmother and her sisters, the big porch allowed everyone to come out and sit on the porch. A couple could “court” on one part of the porch while other family members might play games or play music on another part of the porch. In this way, the couple was properly chaperoned, while allowing them a bit of privacy.
But just a little bit.
My grandmother’s voice always held an edge of tension in the story at this point. And that could be why she got married at just 18 years old.
In “Migrations of the Heart,” my series about The Bledsoe Sisters, John Bledsoe builds a wraparound porch for his daughters for courting purposes. The porch is so big that the taxes on the Bledsoe property are raised and the new addition causes the family some financial difficulty. John Bledsoe’s decision to protect his daughters with the porch ultimately backfires, and leads to the decision of Mags, the second oldest daughter, to decide to work in the mill. It is at the mill that Mags begins to enact her plan of revenge against Paul Winslow.
And it all began with what I like to call, the courting porch.
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Why didn’t my grandmother have more fondness for the porch her father built?