When the war years came along, living quarters were badly needed, and thereby, caused another change in my back porch. Housing was so scarce in the community, caused by the two military bases that were newly established near here, that the military families were living in anything that had a floor, four walls and a roof.
I decided to try and do my bit, so we had casement windows made, and sis and I had to do some of the work of hanging them ourselves. With the intermittent help of the men in our lives, we put insulating paneling on the ceiling and house wall, sealing off the dining room door from the porch side. We cut a door in the south end for a front entrance and put a solid wall with a door in the middle to replace the trellis.
We built a closet and storage place in the living room end, and after papering and painting, installed a circulating gas heater. We hung draperies and put in a wide bed that half of it rolled under the top half, making a davenport for day time us. A double dresser, chairs and a floor lamp composed the furnishings for that room.
The kitchen end was painted and papered fresh, and we put linoleum on both floors. Hot and cold water, a sink, cabinet and cupboard were already in this end from the laundry having been there before. The former playhouse served for a walk in closet and extra storage. A drop-leaf table, two chairs, and all housekeeping needs were installed.
We moved all the laundry equipment and garden tools to the basement with a silent prayer in our hearts that there would be no floods or seep water as long as we would need to use it. Our prayers must have been heard, for we had no floods for as long as we needed to have the laundry in the basement.
We placed a new electric stove in the new kitchen, but there was no room for a refrigerator or bathroom in the back porch, so we had to share these things in the main house. I must say right here that we all got along fine sharing these things, and never to my knowledge was there any friction.
Our first tenant was not of the military, however. We were just putting on the finishing touches when a young man from the railroad came and wanted the newly renamed “apartment.” It would be just right for two, he being newly married.
They were here for several weeks, and we liked our newly weds very much. But all junior railroaders are moved about from place to place, as need arises, and it was so with our young people. They were moved to some where else.
But in just about a year, they came through our town and stopped to show us their fine little baby boy, that I am very sure was conceived in my back porch. Where there were only two in there to begin with, it turned out that our porch always had three tenants of some kind.
This essay was written by my grandmother, Lucile Ann Bigler, more than half a century ago. It was found, undated, in a small box of her manuscripts. Date is 1960-something.