Southern Scribe
    our culture of storytelling


 Porch Tales    


    The Queen of Porch Sittin’

    By Ron Kattawar


Myrtle Lawson was the ultimate Queen of porch sittin’.  She did her time in a white, wicker bottomed chair.  It was rare, but when that rocker was empty, us kids got a look at where that poor rocker set.  Myrtle wasn't a small woman.  Shoot no.  Her rocker bottom had frightening signs of strain.  There were marks on her wooden grey porch floor, from her rocker.  We decided it had to be squelch marks.  Now in order to get really good squelch marks you had to get on your bike, pump as hard and fast as you can, then hold on for dear life as you slam on your brakes. The black rubber marks left in the road are squelch marks.  You had to know you ran a good chance of losing two or three clothes pins and a few cards attached to your spokes.  But a good squelch was worth it.  It stayed in the street for months.  We invented indelible ink. 

We all wondered which neighbor caused old Myrtle to squelch on her grey wooden porch floor.  The squelches were so deep, dang near took all the paint off.  Herman, that's her husband, painted over those squelch marks, but if you knew where to look, those suckers shined in the sunlight.  Myrtle had to have one of her spells for her rocker to be empty in good daylight.  Her prime time though was evening.  She always had a huge clear glass of iced tea.  I can still hear her slossing it round and round as sweat beads escaped her grip and the ice clinked and clanked in a rotating spin.  I swear that woman could create a small tornado in that glass. Must have taken a lot of practice to get that good.

Us kids would gather at Donnie's house at dusk for a game of kick the can.  Donnie's mother, Myrtle, wouldn't let her son leave their yard. Donnie was a good kid, kinda slow, but he had a laugh sorta like a hyena. We hung around old Donnie just waiting to hear him laugh.  One summer evening while we were waiting for Margaret Ann to finish supper and join us for kick the can, Elton got tired of waiting. He was one of those kids that couldn't sit still for more than 45 seconds.  His hair looked funny. According to THE source, Miss Myrtle, ole Elton took a whack at cutting his own hair.  He wasn't very good at it.  He reached his maximum of still time and tackled Donnie to the ground and started tickling him.  His master plan worked.  The hyena cackled till all his neck veins were strained. 

"You boys get off of him, you gonna make him wet his britches."  Myrtle demanded. 

All us kids went home early with tummy aches.  We rolled on the ground knees in our chest, gasping for air, from laughing so hard.  Donnie left our little group early.  Margaret Ann swears to this day Donnie had in fact wet his britches. 

Myrtle sat there and rocked, day and night.  Hot evenings she would exclaim it was just too hot to sleep.  Cool evenings she would bundle up in her patchwork quilt and swear the fresh air did a body good.  If the neighborhood was calm and no live drama unfolding solely for her benefit, you could hear her singing church hymns.  She had a flat paper fan, hooked to a large tongue suppressor.  That woman could stir more air than any human alive. When it got really hot we would run over to Myrtle's and stand behind her rocker as she fanned herself.  It was our first exposure to air conditioning.  She would fuss, "You kids get off the back of my rocker, you make a body all sticky and hot.  Go play in the yard, like the good Lord intended you to do." 

"Evening Miss Myrtle."  Attorney Koch would say as he passed Myrtle's famous rocker.  He always tipped his white hat, as he spoke. 

No one was safe.  Myrtle would always, and I do mean always have a summation of each passerby.  We would sit and listen to her commentaries of everyone that came into range.  All us kids learned the town's secrets on Myrtle's porch. ‘Cept Elton, he was just to busy to sit still. We saw him earlier chasing a cat.  Poor cat. 

Miss Myrtle.  Queen of porch sittin’.  I miss that woman, I swear I do. She had a knack for spinning yarns about the passersby.  Each person had their own customized yarn.  I have to admit though, I'm still bit curious which one of those passersby caused those squelch marks.  You just know ole Myrtle trying to stop her perpetual rocking, her heels dug into Herman's new paint job, must of sure nuff wet her britches.

Ron Kattawar is a native of Greenville, Mississippi.  He comes from a large Southern musical family. Three brothers play professionally throughout the South. The keyboard that Ron chooses has no music, unless you consider words his music.  Visit Ron Kattawar's author site to learn of his King series.

© 2003, Ron Kattawar, All Rights Reserved