If the World Had a Front Porch

Tracy Lawrence has a new song out, and I really like it. It’s called “If the World Had a Front Porch.” Let me clarify by saying I really like the song, but I think making it a reality would be a disaster.


Tracy starts off by recollecting his own childhood and the memories made on his parents’ front porch. So far so good. They made ice cream, gazed at the stars, and listened to the whippoorwill while his mother crocheted. I’ll admit, that sounds like a wonderful childhood. 


Tracy had his first kiss on that front porch and learned to play the guitar. He shelled purple hulls and pinto beans and watched the lightning bugs and crickets dance. The song reminds me of my childhood. 


We didn’t have a front porch, but we made do with our front yard. Just like Tracy, we made homemade ice cream. We ate slices of watermelon and shared them with the neighbors, then we’d have watermelon seed spitting contests. We roller skated and rode bikes until dark, then caught lightning bugs in mason jars. Those were good times.


Tracy’s chorus goes on to say, “If the world had a front porch like we did back then, we’d still have our problems, but we’d all be friends. Treating your neighbor like he’s your next of kin wouldn’t be gone with the wind, if the world had a front porch like we did back then.” Would it, though? Would it really?


I’m the first one to shake my finger and rant about how much the world has changed. Kids stare at screens instead of toys and games. People work out their issues on social media instead of talking to each other. Our values have changed, and so have our interests.


I’m reminded of a saying on a tea towel I saw several years ago, and I see a version of it every January during Mardi Gras season. “In Louisiana, we don’t hide our crazy. We wrap beads around it and parade it down the street.” As a transplanted resident of the Pelican state, I’d have to agree.


But Louisiana can’t take all the credit, or the profit from all the tea towels. A popular saying for states below the Mason-Dixon line is, “In the South we don’t hide our crazy. We put it on the front porch and serve it sweet tea.” 


These sayings remind me of a story my husband heard from one of our deputies during the COVID lockdown. “John, I’m about worn out from all these domestic calls! Everyone’s stuck at home, but the liquor stores are still open. And that makes for an unpleasant situation. Folks around here are staying home and drinking, and then they start fighting each other. We get called in, and then they want to fight us.”


Where am I going with all this? I think Tracy Lawrence’s idea of life being better if the world had a front porch is half-baked. We’d still have our problems, but we’d all be friends? No, that wouldn’t happen. Treating your neighbor like he’s your next of kin? Maybe, but how do we treat our next of kin? If the world had a front porch, would all crazies sit on the front porches in rocking chair with drinks? No, I’m afraid Tracy’s sweet and simple ideas have gone the way of the Ford Bronco.


Oh wait! Ford brought that classic car back. Maybe there’s hope for Tracy’s theory.


Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1989. You can reach her at jann@jannfranklin.com