December 18, 2005

Positivity: Christmas at the Porch’s

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

The otherwise great article could use a good picture of the place:

Local man fills home with holiday cheer

NORTH PORT–When Bill Porch was growing up on a dairy farm in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., he knew Christmas was coming when he could smell the pine tree his parents brought into the house on Christmas Eve.

No one walking into the Porch home on Biscayne Drive these days would have any doubt about what time of year it is.

Inflatable snow globes, snowmen, Santa with his reindeer and a lighted Nativity scene in the front yard are just one part of the display. A star graces the roof.

Once in the house, “Joy to the World,” “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” “Let it Snow” and “Deck the Halls” compete with each other from different corners of the living room, played by musical dolls, mechanical keepsakes or singing Santas. By filling his home with holiday cheer, Porch is making sure that the sparse Christmases of the past are no more.

“Back then, our gifts were mostly hand-me-down clothes. We didn’t have money like people do today,” Porch recalled. “And we didn’t get many toys. First of all, the toys were different. Then, a lot of the kids had toy guns, or bows and arrows. And second, we didn’t have much time for toys. We had homework and lots of chores. We bought our sugar, coffee and tea, but we grew everything else.”

Porch has been adding to his collection for the last 50 years, sometimes paying full price, but occasionally finding steals at garage sales. And while he says it is “hard to pick just one” favorite, he is quick to point out one of his earliest purchases — a radio-shaped music player made in the former West Germany with four accompanying globes that open to reveal various scenes as the song on the radio changes.

“There were only two in the store, and I bought them both. My daughter in Pennsylvania has the other one now,” he said.

Porch and his wife, Mary Joe, who recently celebrated their 54 wedding anniversary, moved to North Port from Ohio in 1993. Just about the only things they brought with them were Christmas items.

“When we were moving here, we sold most of the furniture,” he said. “My son rented a 28-foot moving van, and it was filled with decorations.”

Among them are Christmas-themed dolls Porch has purchased for his wife, reindeer of all shapes and sizes, lighted holiday villages, trains and several Christmas trees.

The Porches main tree has white, iridescent branches and is decorated with red silk balls, lights and “207 bows.” When plugged in, the tree slowly turns.

“It takes about four hours to put up and get all the branches straight,” said Porch.

Porch and his son, Tim, who helps him with decorations on the roof, started setting up the yearly display just before Halloween.

“We got the last of it up the first of December,” Porch said. “And it will stay up till the end of January. We have friends coming down from Ohio and Pennsylvania, and they want to see it.”

And while some families might object to such extensive decorating, Porch said that Mary Joe doesn’t mind.

Porch said he tries to change the display around every year. Mary Joe always suggests where to put things.

“And I’ve got a son and a daughter who are fighting over who gets what,” he said good-naturedly. “My daughter would love to have half the stuff.”

Porch began displaying inflatable decorations outside his home in 1999, and other neighbors have recently followed suit.

“They’re putting stuff up across and down the street,” he said.

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