Porch Patrol

philly row homesGrowing up in a city of row homes, you really couldn’t get away with much.

The Front Porch Patrol.

This was a coordinated, unspoken effort to police the neighborhood children. Under the guise of sweeping the porch, shoveling snow, collecting the daily paper or mail, they were always out there.; always vigilant.broom 2

The effort was mostly led by stay-at-home moms, grandparents, shift workers with strange hours, older ladies who never married, the retired, the homebound. The only requirement was to care about your community.

Truancy from school was never an issue. If you were caught outside on a school day, seemingly healthy, your parents were called; not by school personnel, but by your neighbor.porches

If you were caught fighting, or swearing, or disrespecting your elders, it was reported.

If you were injured, or hungry, they would take you in, tend to your needs, then walk you home.

They knew you by name, and where you belonged. Anyone strange to the “hood” was subject to questioning .

“Who are you, where do you live, does your family know you’re here ?”

We all knew the rules. Stay out all you like, but be home when the street lights came on, no matter the season, no exceptions.  This was enforced. row_of_homes_1

It was a different era, and most of us would have been classified as “free range” children by today’s standards. There were no visible adults chaperoning our play time.

They couldn’t be seen in the backyards, the alleys, the street.

But the eyes and ears were there, guiding us from that front porch.

We were the lucky ones.

This entry was posted in Childhood, Education, Family, home, Memories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Porch Patrol

  1. Phyllis says:

    …and no adult had second thoughts about the ‘political correctness’ of speaking to the errant child or its parent. There have always been “busybodies” or nosy neighbors, but there was lots more connection and community, and that lack shows in our children and families today…sad, painful.

  2. Ooooh – I remember the ‘neighborhood watch’ parental support network. I grew up in the sticks outside a tiny town in Iowa (amongst other places) during my rebellious years. I’d get home and there’d be my dad, waiting up, asking me ‘You got something you wanna tell me?’ as soon as I walked through the door.

    Word got home faster than I did…

  3. mandy smith says:

    “Be home when the street lights come on.” I remember that era well. Those certainly were different times! 🙂

    • I feel so bad for the need for “helicopter” parenting today, and the technology that has turned ours into indoor children. I guess there’s no going back ?? Thanks, Mandy

      • mandy smith says:

        I know 😦 Yet, I wonder how much helicopter parenting is going on since the parents are hooked on the technology, too? Now when I see kids outside throwing the football or playing basketball in the driveway, it’s noisy, but I kinda love it, lol!

      • My neighbor has a trampoline, his yard is very popular, I enjoy the noise as well. ☺ And parents..let go of those smart phones !! Enjoy your outing with your family; your kids won’t be there for long.

  4. I grew up in a neighborhood like that. You stirred up lots of good memories.

  5. nimi naren says:

    Can totally realte to this

  6. lbeth1950 says:

    Oh boy, if you messed up, the news beat you home!

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