Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stoop Sitting and its close relatives

When I lived on South Mill Street in Lexington, Kentucky (close to Jefferson Davis' youthful digs while he was a student at Transylvania University, down the hill from my apartment), one of our favorite, aimless pastimes was to "stoop sit."  This was actually performed at my dear friend Dave's house, on his stoop, across from the house pictured above. The houses on Mill Street were all built in the late 1700's, early 1800's.  On warm nights, we would gather on the stoop at Dave's place and just sit outside next to the sidewalk, talking and watching the world go by.  Poor Dave, like many on the street, did not have air conditioning and as a result, stoop sitting was the only way to get cooled off on those hot, muggy, Kentucky nights.  As I lived three doors down, it was easy to walk on over and sit with whoever gathered there to watch the comings and goings of Lexington street life in the late 1970's. 

And some nights we would hit pay dirt.  Especially when "Sweet Evening Breeze" would walk by.  Elaborately coiffed and dressed, 'Sweet Evening' would sashay by us and flaunt his/her ripe African- American sexuality.  It felt like a smaller version of the Savannah, Georgia, culture of decadence depicted in John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that I read many years later.  During the day, we were visited by another black resident, who would shake his index finger at us and utter loudly in a sing song voice, "Santa Claus comin' to town."  Odd to hear it in July.

Then there was, of course, the "Shit Sandwich."  This occurred when David or Tim (now the Klickitat County Prosecutor) would yell "Shit Sandwich" at the top of their lungs and grab my friend, Mary Pat, in a bear hug, with her on the inside and the two of them on the outside.  Hence the name.  It could be followed by 'elf wrestling' where one of them would attempt to take Mary down.  Usually her stentorian voice warning them of the ills that would befall them if they so much as tried that, would be enough, unless they were in a major mischievous mood.  Then all elf would break loose.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Sunday morning ritual at Dave's place--of the dramatic reading of the wedding posts in the Louisville Courier Journal.  Sunday at Dave's was where I ate my first toasted bagel with cream cheese, and heard Tim read the wedding posts from the Sunday paper with a special dramatic flair. I doubt that when the folks  put their weddings in the paper, they ever thought that their news would be read and dissected with the gimlet gaze that Tim focused on them.  It truly made Sundays memorable.  I only wish that Tim had read these wedding announcements.

1 comment:

alphawoman said...

I knew lots of folk who lived on this street in the mid to late '70's. One in particular was A.J. As for Sweet Evening Breeze - he was something to behold. We would ride the bus from Lex. Catholic to downtown to catch transfers and see him strutting his stuff. Ah, those were the days. Good Sam has been taken over by UK I recently heard. Sad.