Stepheny’s Reflection On A Long Ago Memory.

The back decks on Chicago Apartment Buildings

Since creating a second blog called,, and the same name FB page, my writing time has been spent on that endeavor.  The last consistent posting here was last April during the AtoZ Blog Challenge when I wrote 26 posts on the Glories of Drinking Tea With Stepheny The research was fun and the topic varied. I wanted to say hi and tell you that I do not forget you. I hope this memory leads you on to one of your own.

The Downton Abbey Tea in Greensboro, NC with Friends. 2019

The business of life is the acquisition of memories according to Mr. Carson at Downton Abbey. I agree. The earliest memory I have takes place in the Chicago apartment building where my parents lived for a time. I was old enough to have my own metal stove and refrigerator in my mother’s tiny kitchen.  Apartment buildings in Chicago often have wooden decks and stairs built on the back of them. In this memory, I wandered through the back screen door of nearby tenants who were strangers. It was the first time I was made to feel ashamed or mistaken when these neighbors glared at me and asked what I thought I was doing. Unwelcome, I left, with no words to explain to my mother what had happened. I realize now we all have our ‘Garden of Eden’ moments when we are thrown out into the world to make the best of it or not. 

That world at the moment is a troublesome place where mobs, lawlessness, and other woes exist. The little girl in my memory has grown up. Never were the opening lines of a Wendell Berry poem, The Peace of Wild Things, more meaningful.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things


About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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2 Responses to Stepheny’s Reflection On A Long Ago Memory.

  1. Rodd says:

    I know those back porches with stairs leading from one level to another—making it impossible not to see your neighbors. Though not always a pleasant encounter–sometimes those back porches provided opportunities to gossip, smoke a cigarette away from the family or just sit and reflect as the “L” passed by. Often you could hear the faint sounds of neighbors cooking dinner, talking, scolding children and always the encounter with the neighbor’s dog going down the back stair for a walk. Only Chicago people understand how wonderful this is.
    Funny, each tier in a building was a block and each building made a neighborhood within a larger neighborhood. Nothing went unnoticed and it was a tight community. It was the peace of the city things. Quite different from today and the destruction of the city and its neighborhoods within a neighborhood.
    Loved this post. Smiles and memories.
    Thank you Stepheny!

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