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Randall Franks’ Southern Style: Visitin’ meant never havin’ to say I’m comin’

By Randall Franks

I am coming to the conclusion that the art of visitin’ is now a thing of the past for much of America.
I can remember as a kid, as dinner time came near, a neighbor or family friend would just happen by and mother and dad would ask them to pull up a chair and mother would set another place at the table.
Their presence would usually pull the conversation away from the focus of the family to topics of the day, neighborhood gossip, politics or the latest happenings in that person’s life.
As dinner drew to a close, the kids would be allowed a last few minutes outside in the yard as the adults adjourned to the living room for coffee, awaiting whatever might be coming on television during the primetime family hour that night.
Sometimes by this time another neighbor or two that didn’t have a color television might have joined in the evening, arriving with a cake or a pie in hand that was now being divided among the group as the kids were now finding their place on the floor waiting for eight o’clock.
Sundays were prime days for visitin’. Sometimes it meant we loaded up in the car after church and began a marathon of house-to-house stops.
There was none of this calling ahead to make an appointment. You just drove up in the driveway and knocked on the door. If it opened you went in and spent the next hour or so visitin’. For every house, mother had something that she always brought along to present to the hostess: a jug of tea or lemonade, a pie, a cake, or cookies.
The adults talked, and if there were kids, you played. If there were no kids, you sat quietly waitin’ on the adults to finish their visit and load up again to go to the next stop.
Sometimes the folks were kin, sometimes church family, sometimes people that my parents knew years before and decided to catch up with.
If we weren’t off ourselves on Sunday, then it was a good bet when we heard the car door slam outside and dad looked out the curtain, someone was getting ready to knock at our door and the rest of the afternoon would be rescheduled around making him or her feel at home.
I wonder sometimes if the art of visitin’ has been lost now that we all have cell phones and computers and endless types of communication options.
I hear of city folks planning play dates for their children. Our parents looked for opportunities when we weren’t playing.
Now we tend to make our homes islands of isolation where our family can cut off from the rest of the world. We build barriers with answering machines, unanswered calls, ignoring the ring of the bell, appointment books and seldom do we just allow visitin’ to happen unless it is planned.
Maybe we should look back a few years to realize that we actually need to speak with one another, spend time together, and build quality friendships based on shared experience to enrich our everyday lives.
Let’s overcome barriers, not create more.

You can write Randall Franks at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com

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