Porches: Manistee, Detroit, Oakland and Sacramento


Ludwig and Emma Bucher’s Front Porch Parkdale, Michigan 1910


This is the front porch of my great grandparents home in the small town of Parkdale, bordering Manistee, Michigan.  The photograph appears to have been taken in 1910.  I recognize the small girl on the lap of my great grandmother as being “Aunt Hazel” born in 1909. All eyes are focused towards the camera save those of my great grandmother whose attention is on the small child on her lap.  Uncle Earl sits to the side of my great grandmother, apart from the rest of the family.  My grandmother Blanche, with a white gardinia in her hair sits next to my grandpa Walter. Great grandfather Ludwig sits with Uncle Goodenow on his lap.  Uncle Otto and Aunt Lilly are to the right of my grandparents; Aunt Lilly has a dog in her lap. My father is on a lower step wearing knickers and appearing sullen and uneasy.

It is early summer in Parkdale,  with lilies  in the foreground and roses adorning the lattice work above the porch.  A lone canary hangs in its cage directly above my great grandfather. The windows are trimmed with lace curtains, pulled apart to allow sun to enter the interior of the house. The curved steps leading to the porch and front door appear to be worn with scuff marks from shoes hitting the back of them.

This is the scene that my ancestors chose to create, preserve and pass down for others to see. This is my family’s photograph which I have looked at countless times throughout my life.  More than any other photograph, this one identifies to me my family as it existed over one hundred years ago.

Here we see other photos of porches with people either on them or posing in front of them.  All are from the Anderson Collection and show many photos of Ruth Porter. In the last photo we see Bessie with another person sitting on a back porch with a broom standing upright behind them.

76 Lincoln Ave closeup (2)_0001

Shortly after Ruth Porter became Ruth Anderson, the Porters and Andersons left Manistee and moved to Detroit, Michigan.  They moved into a new house on Lincoln Avenue.  Here we see them on their front porch, looking quite happy. Bessie is seen sitting on the top step of the porch.  Her husband, Albert, is sitting in a chair.  Her daughter, Ruth, is standing on the lawn in front of the porch and her husband, Jerry Anderson, is standing near the stairs holding their son, Jack. They stayed in Detroit for a short time, then moved on to California where they first lived in Oakland before moving on to Sacramento where they  remained for the rest of their lives.

76 Lincoln Ave Detroit, Michigan 1919A wider view of the same photograph shows this house to be larger than that of my great grandmother.  However the porch is smaller and a sidewalk appears to be quite close to the row of houses that have been built along Lincoln Avenue in Detroit. One can imagine the street to be just to the left of the row of trees that border the street, and knowing the year of this photograph to be 1918, it is easy to image cars traveling up and down the street. In the Federal Census of 1920, the Porters and Andersons are listed as living at 76 Lincoln Avenue.  The Randalls (Bessie’s older sister’s family) are listed as living at 66 Lincoln Avenue.

76 Lincoln Ave. Street scene

Here we see Lincoln Avenue in Winter, trees laden with snow, a lone car approaching, the Anderson house to the far right.

76 Lincoln Ave. Detroiit in winter

And here we see the Anderson house with  a visitor approaching the front porch.

Here are other photos, the first showing Bessie on her front porch, the middle may be Jerry’s mother and the last is Bessie, this time looking away, perhaps dreaming about moving westward to California.


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By 1921 Albert and Bessie, along with Ruth, Jerry and Jack are living in Oakland, California.

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They moved from house to house, experiencing California in the 1920’s.  Houses were closer together than in Detroit, but the porches still were central to the neighborhood.

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One house in the Anderson Collection stands out from the rest.  I think that this is Jack Anderson.  He obviously is all decked out in his Sunday best, standing on the sidewalk near his front porch.

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The address is 2841.  I know neither the street nor the city, but this house with its welcoming front porch is showcased in many photos.

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One of the very few with writing on the back, this one says: “This is the back showing my breakfast room with the vines about the window and my neighbor boys – also the garbage can.”

There are front porches and back porches.


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Besse and Albert are seen on large porches as well as small ones: sitting, standing, together, alone.  These photos are all taken in Sacramento which will be their home for the remainder of their lives.

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Jerry’s mother visits one of these porches.   On the back of this photo is written: “Ruth purchased the beautiful corsage she is wearing on her right shoulder and it made her happy to be made of.”

The Andersons, The Thompsons, the Porters and their friends have been seen on many different porches throughout their lives. Take a few moments to sit with them, say hello to them and wish them well, wherever their spirits may dwell. I leave you today with a photo from the Ellsworth Thompson family porch, taken in Roseville, Michigan in 1940.  Many of the people you first saw  on my great grandmother’s porch in 1910 are again seen on this porch.  The oldest woman in the photo is my great grandmother Emma, however this time, instead of a little girl commanding her attention, it is a little boy – yours truly.  The woman with the lovely smile is my mother, Mabel. She has her arms around her second born son, John, who is severely mentally retarded. That didn’t interfere with a mother’s love that is so poignantly evidenced by this photo.

Roseville 1940 grandma B



  1. I still need to get done to Lu’s house. She said she has right many memories down. Mary did not know about her writings. Also, in the porches article, I believe it is important to note that “porches” were so very import in those days because people sat out on there porches for hours at a time to visit and watch the world go by. They visited anyone that walked by, and visited there neighbors. This was before tv, telephone, and the computer. It way always a joy to sit out on the porch, and favorite pass time un those day. Also, everyone had a canary tin those days. They brought the joy of singing into the home. It was a very different world in those days and the children today need to learn how different things were in those days. A special time in history . Maybe Robert and I will go down to Lu’s next week. We have been so busy the pasted couple of weeks.

  2. Continued: Porches were also very important because the did not have air conditioning in those days, so they would sit out on the porch, because it was cooler then the house.

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