Fathers and sons, Horse People, and dog days.
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With the advent of air-con- ditioning and the designs of most homebuilders, “porch sitting, one of the most significant pastimes of Southern culture, has since gone the way of hand-churned ice cream and the quilting bee,” Memphian Nell Dickerson writes, and she mourns the loss. But tell that to the canines sitting pretty in Porch Dogs (like Long Gone Daddies, from John F. Blair, Publisher), Dickerson’s collection of more than 60 handsome color photos.
House dogs, yard dogs, shop dogs, swing and bench dogs, water-loving dock dogs, top dogs (who sit for their portrait from second-floor perches), and under dogs (cooling beneath the porch): These are Dickerson’s categories. No need, though, to bother Biscuit, Cleopatra, Teeny Baby, Liza Jane, and Gotcha with name-calling. They’re in hound heaven on the porches that still stand throughout the South — whether, in Dickerson’s photographs, we’re in Memphis, Mississippi, New Orleans, Alabama, or Charleston. And true to Dickerson’s abiding concern for historic preservation, this makes Porch Dogs a dual-purpose project, one that’s been eight years in the making. From grand doorways to humble storefronts, these are splendid examples of the South’s architectural heritage stretching back to the late eighteenth century.
And that’s where you’ll find Memphis — the dog, not the city. She’s a dappled Deutsch Kurzhaar at home in Bingham, Tennessee, and proud as can be on a porch circa 1795.