Dinner tables and front porches

Published 3:37 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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was talking with a friend this morning and the discussion of tonight’s Democratic debate came up. We both have followed politics all of our lives. You might say it’s part of our DNA, but we had to acknowledge the differences in these days and the old days.

As we talked, I was reminded of my mother’s family and how her father, my grandfather, was a very opinionated person. He like to read The Atlanta Constitution, the state paper whose slogan was “We cover Dixie like the dew.”

Naturally, anything written in Atlanta, the most progressive city in the South, was treated with more than a little derision and criticism in the southern part of the state. Especially their Pulitzer Prize winning, liberal editor and publisher Ralph McGill. It took only a few words from McGill to send my grandfather’s blood pressure soaring and I think I remember his doctor’s prescription for that blood pressure. “No more Ralph McGill for you!”

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Every Sunday we ate at Big Mama’s and Granddaddy’s house. They had a big, round, oak dinner table and we all gathered around it. By the time everyone arrived, the dinner table would be full. I know you all remember that, in the South, the meal in the middle of the day is “dinner” and not lunch.

Dinner time was fairly civil and no discussion about politics. Besides, who wanted to talk about stuff like that when there was a country buffet to be enjoyed? Big Mama might have told us that she didn’t know what she was going to feed us, but I don’t remember a meal that was lacking in any way.

After the meal, per the tradition of the day, the menfolk retired to the chairs and sofas of the living room and took their naps. The ladies cleaned up the table and washed the dishes and talked about those things they talk about. Ah, the good old days!

After naptime, we’d move to the front porch and visitors would come. Granddaddy’s brothers might be in town and we might have to move a chair out to the porch to accommodate everyone.

Soon, the conversation turned to the politics of the day and I would say that most thought the same way. However, there were a few brothers who lived in other parts of the country and might have been a little more liberal than Granddaddy.

The times they were a-changing and opinions were like noses or other parts of the body. Everybody had one. Thankfully, it wasn’t like today when one either thinks the “right” way or they can hit the highway. Discussions could be had and disagreements were par for the course.

I loved sitting on the front porch and listening. In those days, listening was the better part of valor for a kid. The meme, “Children are to be seen and not heard,” was in effect.

There may have been times when the varied opinions may have ascended into open arguments, but never to the point of estrangement. The brothers might verbally joust, but no one really sought to knock another off their horse.

At some point, the time for a mid-afternoon refreshment arrived and we might have been invited back to the big, round, oak dinner table. The disagreements were past and the time for fellowship had replaced them.

I long for the days when we could talk and even disagree, yet still sit around the table and enjoy each other. Nowadays, disagreements on subjects linger and even separate.

We’ve come a long way in this world of ours. We can watch 150 television stations and surf a thousand websites. Too bad we discarded the big, round, oak dinner table and a front porch.