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"The Sun Porch"

Our family lived in Buffalo, New York, on the north side of Bedford Avenue, 
about half way between Elmwood Avenue and Lincoln Parkway. 
Our house was mostly gray, 
and would have been plain if not for the sun porch. 

It wasn't really a porch, but more of a carpeted, furnished room, 
with about a dozen windows wrapped around three walls, 
letting in the summer breeze, 
and providing a panoramic view of neighborhood goings-on. 
We knew all the families and most of their business. 
(Some later idiot replaced the sun porch windows with walls, 
dulling the house to match his own personality.) 

The Hamlins lived two houses up from us. 
I hung around with Richard Hamlin, who had lost his older brothers in the war. 
Mrs. Hamlin kept the two gold stars in the window 
long after the fighting stopped. 
When Richie's father died I took his paper route for a week or so. 
The last I heard he was pitching pro baseball, 
and using the name "Luke" Hamlin. 

Ken Barney was the red-haired kid across the street, 
with the loud foggy voice and huge freckles. 
He took violin lessons, and his father owned the Gates Circle Garage. 
Last time I saw Kenny he was a pale, bald psychiatrist, 
with a soft voice, and a wife and kid. 
He played jazz bass on the weekends. 

Dr. Goldstein, a neurologist, lived next door to us. 
His son Davey was a nice kid who ran with his elbows. 

Sammy Becker was the neighborhood bad boy. 
He wasn't really bad, but he was in constant hot water. 
He often stole stuff and brought it to school for show-and-tell. 
One day he brought a case of white powder in small corked bottles. 
We didn't know what it was, but Sammy showed us a trick. 
If you spit into a bottle, replaced the cork, and shook it up, 
the cork would pop and shoot about fifty feet. 
I later learned that the powder was called Eno Salts, 
and it was a laxative. 

One Halloween I got stupid 
and soaped the windows all up and down the street. 
The twelve big windows on our sun porch 
were the only ones left in pristine condition. 
I was never smart enough to be a criminal. 
My dad had me go out and scribble soap all over our own windows, 
so I wouldn't become the prime suspect. 
I spent hours the next day getting all that glass clean, 
and trying to look innocent. 

The living room we have now has a lot of windows and nice scenery, 
but people don't seem to know their neighbors as well as they used to. 

Everybody should live in Buffalo and have a sun porch. 

Copyright ©August 22, 2006 by Jack Blanchard. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted by permission.

 

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