We moved into our old house in Burlington in August of 1988, twenty-seven years ago. Friends helped us to move from Minonk, Illinois, and we sat together on folding picnic chairs on the back porch and had lunch. They noticed that there was a doorbell on the back porch, just outside the kitchen. It worked well, making a “dong” sound, and when the front doorbell sounded it made a “ding-dong” sound.
The doorbell location presented a problem. You had to go through the rear door of the house to get to the doorbell. By the time you made it to the kitchen door, you were already inside the house, and since the kitchen was usually the center of activity in the house, most of the time you could just say hello to anyone who was working or sitting around the kitchen table. You wouldn’t need to use the doorbell.
Like many old farmhouses, most people who know us come to the back door anyway, but the fact is that, unlike when we lived in the country, we usually lock the back door, so getting to the doorbell presented a challenge. You would have to knock on the door in order to get us to let you in so that you could press the doorbell.
Many years ago the back porch was really an open porch. There was no door because there were no walls. The kitchen door was the back door. Sometime in the 1960’s, the Nelsons hired a young Jim Wilson to enclose the back porch, build walls, and put in a row of casement windows to make a three season unheated room. (We liked it so much that we added insulation and a heating vent and made it into an all-season room.) But no one bothered to move the doorbell.
Maybe the previous residents were so friendly that people could just open the door and walk in. Ideally we would like to live that way, but we tend to live a bit more privately, even though the large windows on all sides of the house make it a see-through first floor when the curtains are pulled to the side.
We don’t always make it easy for people to get inside. With the door locked, you had to raise a ruckus to get our attention. It would be a lot more welcoming to place a doorbell in a convenient location, so that is what I did, among one of the top items on my “to do” list.
We don’t always make it easy for people to get inside other things either, but hospitality means making the changes that make it easier to get in.