HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3

My Front Porch

John W. Pinkerton


Our home is probably over a hundred years old and I’m sure the highway noise wasn’t nearly as great as it is now, and the railroad noises were probably music to the ears of the early inhabitants.  Personally, after living here for over 45 years, we, Linda and I, don’t notice either the highway noises nor the train track clatter.  Overnight guests are sometimes a little annoyed, but with such charming hosts, they usually don’t complain…much.

Personally I like sitting on our front porch watching the traffic go up and down the highway.  Most vehicles are not locals.  They’re folks driving heavy trucks hauling goods north and hauling goods south, and other folks with a million destinations who have an equal number of reasons for traveling the highway.  I can see the trains speeding along through a narrow crack between some buildings and over a line of trees.  When we first moved here, there was a passenger train, The Chief, zipping along the line daily.  Somerville is an old railroad town with a tie plant and switching yard still in operation.  Once there was a round house and Harvey House which are now long gone.


From my porch I can keep an eye on the four-door fire station on the other side of the street at the other end of the block.  Most of the vehicles are pretty new and the volunteer firemen are efficient and enthusiastic and have lots of fires and accidents and rescues to which they respond.  I recall when the fire station burned down.  Shortly after that the firemen got their acts together.

Recently,  Dollar General built a new store catty-corner from our property.  In the same location, several years ago was the Hughes Lumber Yard and a lady’s nice brick home.  Mr. Hughes was smart enough to sell the yard to some city slickers for a handsome sum who then proceeded to drive it into the ground, and before we knew it, it was an empty lot.  The only bad thing is that it was the home to many a rat which our cats didn’t mind traveling the block to capture and devour.  After years of there being an empty lot facing Highway 36, the Dollar General folks built a rather large and very nice metal building there.  Now, we already had a Dollar General tucked away behind the B&B Grocery Store on the north end of town, but some folks, apparently, didn’t even know it was there.  Since the new store opened, it is doing a booming business with trucks bringing in goods and car and truck folks looking for goods all day long---something else for me to keep an eye on. 

From my porch I can see a sliver of the liquor store.  Liquor stores are hard to kill and has been at this location for several years. 

I have a good view of the new “Ice House.”  The fact that the owners are calling it an ice house indicates to me that the they are not from around these parts.  Locals usually call such places beer joints and let it go at that.  I believe “Ice Houses” are more common in big cities.   Regardless of this miscue, I have grown to admire the work ethic of the owners who have spent month upon month fixing the old wood structure up so it would be presentable  to host a Sunday school class.  He or they are definitely going the extra yard.  Through the years it’s had various owners and operators who served everything from coffee to food to beer and music.  With all the work he’s done and had done, I wish him well and great success.

Next to the “Ice House” is my barber’s shop.  It’s in a remarkably small old stone structure undoubtedly built when the WPA built the local gym and football stadium of the same material.  My barber is a lady who is doing well enough to bring on a second lady barber.  I like both of them.  Having a clear view of their window and their open/closed sign, I always know when they’re in.  Handy.

Across the side street from my barber’s shop, there is a resale place in the old Exxon Station.  I don’t think the folks who run the place are locals, but they’re very likable folks and display some interesting stuff.  I recently bought four very nice long filing cabinets---three heavy steel, one real wood.  I bought them cheap accompanied by a nice exchange of pleasantries.   In addition to the old station, the resale  place has several pods on the property to store goods for future sale.  I try to encourage people to shop there, but folks are hard to convince to take advice.  Oh well.

At the other end of the block on 36  is a quickstop filling station which is very nice, but I can’t see it from my house and in the last several years I think I was in the place once.  I think it was an emergency visit.  Nothing against them; just not my place, and besides I can’t see it from my porch.  Oh, yeah, there’s another quickstop on the other side of the Dollar store.  It stays busy mainly because it doubles as our local casino.  They got closed down once to the grief of a lot of locals, but I think judging by the number of cars parked there that it’s reopened.  Damn, I wish Texas would allow real casinos.

Back off the highway to my street, Memory Lane.  It’s the fanciest street in town and runs three blocks and has a brick structure at each end with the name of the street on it.  Several years ago, the city got a Federal grant to fancify the street which included paving, curbing, and old fashioned street lights.  While the rest of the streets in town are going to Hell in a hand basket, this street is pretty well maintained.

On our side of the street at the other end of the block across from the fire station is the Masonic Lodge, an old two-story wood structure which because the Masons give a damn is well maintained and well attended along with the wives, the Eastern Star ladies. My brother-in-law, a fine fellow, is a Mason and member of this lodge.

Beyond the fire station and Masonic Lodge intersection on the other side of the street is the local bank, Citizens State.   When I first came to Somerville, the bank was in a small old building on Hwy. 36.  Then they built a very nice modern building so that I could keep an eye on it.  I’ll be darned if they didn’t  do a complete revamp and addition to the bank a few years ago so that it needed an elevator and covered a whole half a block.   I guess they didn’t make many bad loans over the years and, as a matter of fact, they now have several branches in surrounding communities.

If I strain my eyes real hard, I can see the local clinic two blocks away on the same side of the street.  They built a nice structure there a few years ago, but for no apparent reason are planning to abandon it and build a bigger, better one on the highway.  We had a doctor here for over 50 years.  As the story goes, Doc Pazdral went into the local drug store when the bus driver stopped to give the riders a break and allow them to get something to drink and eat and stretch their legs.  He was just out of medical school and had his brand new medical bag and doctor stuff with him, and he was headed toward greener pastures, but one of the locals talked him into doing a little carpentry work on one of his cows and fifty years later retired as Somerville’s doctor---good fellow and seriously great doctor.  He’s missed.  Now, mostly, we have PA’s at the clinic.

I can’t see it from my porch because of the Masonic Lodge building, but the post office is directly across from the Lodge and the bank.

I have a neighbor who lives directly across the street from us who lives in a house that I suspect was built about the same time my house was built.  Nice place.  Between this house and the fire station, I have a view of the back of the city office, a Laundromat, and Mantey Country, a restaurant and catering service built on the same location as the old Star movie theatre.  They do a great amount of catering, and they’re open as a restaurant Tuesday through Saturday and the first Sunday of each month.  Ricky, an ex-student of both Linda and myself and a fine fellow, started and ran the operation until cancer struck him down too soon.  His widow and a couple of their sons are continuing the business.

Next to Ricky’s place on 36 is our police station in old Doc Pazdral’s building.  We don’t get to know the local policemen very well because they come and go so quickly.

Also on 36 next to the police station is Gary’s Auto.  Gary got out of Houston years ago and ran a gas station and then built a nice mechanics’ garage.  Gary is grumpy but a nice fellow and an A-number one mechanic and, most importantly, honest to the bone.  His place is just a block away so that when my vehicle needs repair I just leave it with him and walk home.  There are several folks who after they’ve moved away, return  to Somerville to have Gary work on their vehicles.  A man is blessed if he finds a good, honest mechanic in his lifetime.

On my block and across from the side of our home but not in my view from my front porch are a couple of houses and a Baptist church which broadcasts the time each day with a recording of the ringing of the bells.

Heck, I almost forgot. Immediately to the left of our house is the Frontier telephone office, a large, plain cinderblock building.  They built this structure within about fifteen feet of my place shortly after I purchased the property.  I grieved for about fifteen minutes then realized that this was ideal---no objectionable neighbors.  In fact, they’ve been good neighbors and they’re really quiet.

My point is that I have just about everything a man could need in full view from my front porch, and I’m just as happy as a clam about it.

Ya’ll come visit, ya hear.  We can sit on the porch together.