As a child in South Carolina, I spent summers like so many children - sitting on my grandparents' back porch with my siblings, spitting watermelon seeds into the garden or, even worse, swallowing them and trembling as my older brother and sister spoke of the vine that was probably already growing in my belly.
My family lived off the land and summer evening meals featured baked stuffed tomatoes, potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh shelled peas and homemade ice cream with strawberries from our garden. With no air conditioning in those days, the cool porch was the center of our universe after the scorching days.
In 1949, when I was 2, my family moved from Yonkers, NY, to a development of brick houses in Elmont, a Long Island suburb of New York City. What I remember most about the house was the glider on our porch. I used to sit there evenings close to my father, Victor, as he talked about the moon and the stars. He taught me to dream big.
A British porch is a musty, forbidding non-room in which to fling a sodden umbrella or a muddy pair of boots; a guard against the elements and strangers. By contrast the good ol' American front porch seems to stand for positivity and openness; a platform from which to welcome or wave farewell; a place where things of significance could happen.