Never had a front porch on Top 100 list

Among everything else, the Internet seems to be home to an endless supply of lists. One doesn’t have to spend much time surfing the Web to find just about anything rated in a list. Top 5, Top 10, Top 100 — the list of lists goes on and on.

We can find the five largest, smallest, fastest, slowest, cheapest, most expensive, best, worst. You name it. I’m sure with just a little effort you could find a Top 10 rating for the best Top 10 ratings ever. Sports people are especially notorious for needing to list and rate everything. Someone plays a great game? Quick, where does it rate on the best games ever?

I was on a well-known news site recently and saw that they were rating the Top 5 Front Porches of all time. I don’t know why, but of all the lists you can check on any given day, I looked at this one.

And before you run off to Google the topic yourself so you can see what I saw, I have to tell you, I wasn’t that impressed. The porches I saw pictured were nice enough, but it looked more as if they were awarding them a spot in the top five on decorations alone.

It was all too perfect with matching furniture and placemats and fake lemonade glasses. They didn’t look all that comfortable or someplace where you’d just want to hang out for while. And, after all, isn’t that what a front porch should be?

We’ve kind of lost touch with the value of a good front porch. So many houses anymore don’t really have a front porch to speak of. You can’t even see the front door of a lot of places because the garages stick out too far.

As for my wife and me, we’ve had two homes during our time together, and if you put the front “porch” of both of them together, you still wouldn’t have room for a good hanging swing or hammock.

I can think of two things that have led to the demise of the front porch, air conditioning and decks. It hasn’t been all that long ago that most houses didn’t have air conditioning.

Even for many that did, it consisted of the window variety that kept one, maybe two rooms cool. Long, hot summer days would bring people out onto the front porch to keep cool.

As the big front porch slowly started to fade away, it was being replaced on the other side of the house with the backyard deck. That’s where people were going now to sit outside for a bit and work the grill a little.

But let’s face it, when you sit on the deck, you usually are seeing your backyard and, barring any big fences, maybe that of a neighbor or two.

The front porch is more social. There aren’t as many fences in front yards. If everyone in the neighborhood would be out on the front porch, there’s a better chance I think that you’d end up congregating at one spot and visiting.

Plus, in most cases, more goes on out front. You can see who’s driving down the street or who’s out for a walk. Front porches just seem a little more neighborly, a social skill I could probably stand to refine a bit.

The social hub front porch isn’t dead completely, but it has faded quite a bit. There are still some nice ones out there. We occasionally walk past a house that a few years back had one added to what was a blah front of the house, and it did wonders to the look of the house.

Two members of my wife’s family have great front porches. They really do seem more fun to hang out on than a little wooden deck hidden in the back. With a little work — and a lot of money — I think a decent one could be added to our house.

But it’s more likely that we’ll just keep saying that our “next house” will have a big front porch.

You know of a retirement village with a place like that?

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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