The Ship Hector Ledger, 1773
Inevitably, spring arrived and the warmth of the sun brought forth new life. As people worked together, communities formed and began to prosper, creating new opportunities for the future generations to come.
Stories—lived or told—of yesterday’s immigrant porches are of generational gathering places where the past and the present were inseparable: an assembled sense of place.
My mind’s eye recollects a childhood in Corazon de Trinidad (Heart of Trinidad) where Italian and English emigrants gathered on our concrete porch. The elders rocked in wooden chairs and talked quietly (not always) in their native tongue. The women, in turn, exited a squeaky screen door near the kitchen: a warning to every wayward child that the guards were on duty. The men—their hands stained yellow with nicotine—leaned against the two red brick pillars that supported the porch or sat on the four crumbling concrete stairs that led to the front door. It was here they verbally wrestled one another—sometimes all at once—over the politics at the coal fields where they worked.
Me… Well at seven I finally left the security of those red pillars wearing new tap shoes that clicked and clacked as I danced down the four concrete stairs and onto the red brick that lined our streets. My mother had determined: “Tap lessons might just cure your shyness.”
Today, black-and-white photographs suspend my immigrant family in time without end. And yet, to this day, I measure my sovereignty by the immigrant voices on our porch.
So I ask: “Might we, in some way, find our Immigrant Porch once again in the integration of family and values somehow lost as we all tapped away from our past?”