While a screened-in porch was a pleasant place to sit in cane-bottom chairs, its being enclosed actually limited its usefulness. We were on a lower end of the social ladder, so our porch was not screened, making it the place for all sorts of activities.
Sitting on the edge of the porch and swinging our feet was no little thing; it was fun. We graduated to jumping off, marking a spot in the grass as in track meets and striving to beat the distance the next time.
It was easy to dash a wash pan of water across the yard after we had washed our face and hands in preparation for eating dinner. On wash day, the tubs of water were dragged off the edge and emptied on flower beds. If the womenfolk were bone tired and the flowers weren't hurting for water, they could simply tilt the tubs and pour the wash water on the ground right there. The plantain and wire grass were noticeably taller and greener at the edge of the back porch.
Chewing and spitting were enjoyable on the back porch. Even if the men tipped their chairs and rested against the wall, they could lean forward and project the amber far out into the grass. Although they didn't speak of it, I suspect that they measured the distance as we kids measured the length of our jump.
The edge of an unscreened porch served as a workbench. If we stood on the ground, the floor was just right for holding our tools and utensils. Dressing chickens, rinsing garden vegetables- anything that had the potential for making a mess was safely carried out on the edge of the porch.
A hoe could be anchored in a crack between two planks, the handle end resting on the ground, and be in the very best position for sharpening with a file. Lumber could stick over the edge for sawing, and it didn't hurt if nails from something being constructed were hammered into the floor.
Cleanup of the porch was a breeze. Whether scouring or dry sweeping, we flirted the rubbish off the edge with a broom.
Normally, the back porch wasn't very pretty, so it was off limits to special company. However, day to day, it was an integral part of work and happenings.