Screen Doors and Box Fans

I was recently up in the Boone area for a few days helping a friend with some improvements on his family’s mountain home.  As I customarily do, I woke up at 4:30 a.m.  Quietly, I made my way down to the kitchen to prepare a cup of coffee. Outside, the world was still dark. A few of the earliest “early birds” were starting to proclaim the dawning of a new day from the trees, but other than that it was perfectly serene. Having poured myself a cup of “Joe,” I made my way toward the door that led to the deck overlooking the property. I was looking forward to enjoying my coffee in the cool morning air before going on my run. As I pushed open the screen door, the sounds that the hinges and springs produced stopped me in my tracks. It’s not that I was worried about the sound waking the others. Instead, I froze because I was instantly transported back to my childhood and to a much simpler time. I was no longer standing in my friend’s kitchen in the mountains of North Carolina. I was now at the house of my childhood friend in western Virginia.  I could see it all in my mind very clearly. His mother had just served us the best fried baloney sandwiches and Fritos a kid could ever have.  In a frenzy, he and I would push back our chairs, toss the plates into the sink, and bolt toward the kitchen door—the kitchen screen door. From that door came the exact same sounds from its hinges and springs, followed closely by the “SLAM”!  as it shut behind us. I could hear the pounding of our running feet across the wooden planks of the porch. I envisioned my friend and I completely ignoring the few steps leading down and just jumping from the porch out into the yard, as we headed out into the world for more boyhood adventures. With an overwhelming sense of melancholy and warmth, I found myself standing, coffee in hand, back in 2021. With a slight smile, I carried my coffee over to a comfortable chair on the deck.  I sat down and thought about how much I missed the simpler times—falling asleep to the hum of a box fan in the window, because we lived in a house without air conditioning. Turning a dial on the rotary phone in order to talk to a loved one or to make silly prank phone calls. Helping my mom lick the S&H green stamps and affixing them into a small booklet. Running and laughing through a sprinkler on a warm summer day…the list goes on and on. 

What sounds take you back? Or is it a smell? Perhaps it is a taste. In a world that has become so fast-paced, slow down and try to find those small reminders that transport you back. In this hectic and, at times, chaotic world, taking the time to cherish those bygone moments and memories can do wonders for the heart and the soul.


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