The history of
The Russ House
Jackson County, Florida
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The Front Porch
Left to Right
Maggie Bell Philips, Lucie Gautier Philips, Bettie Philips Russ, Joseph W Russ Jr.
"In the years that preceded air conditioning, the long, hot days of summer could be quite uncomfortable, to say the least. People learned how to best tolerate these conditions by being adaptive and frequenting the coolest area of the house they could find to pass their afternoons. The downstairs front porch was the area in the Russ House that was preferred in the summertime, and it was lived in and furnished like any other room in the house; even pictures were hung on the walls. Rattan shades were used to block out the sunlight when it became too intrusive. In those years, Marianna was a small town, and people would walk along the tree-lined streets, stopping to visit with their neighbors on their porches. When the weather became too cool, the enclosed area of the upstairs was a more comfortable place to pass the winter afternoons."
L to R: Bettie Philips Russ, her namesake Bettie Russ Dickerson, and Frances
Bettie Dickerson Dekle, in that same swing 70 years later, and her cousin, Frances Munroe DeBuhr.
There was a porch swing on the downstairs porch that hung there for years. It had originally been Big Mama's "swinging crib" when she was an infant, and after it was no longer needed as a crib, they removed the side that swung down and continued to use it as the porch swing. I always heard that this swing was the one that Big Mama and her husband-to-be, George Dickerson, swung in when they were courting; her mother would switch the porch lights on and off to signal that it was time for her beau to go. This same scenario recurred with my Mother and Father, but now it was Big Mama flashing the lights. I'd heard of this swing my whole life, but it had not been there during my lifetime. When I was living in the home in the early 90s, I was exploring one of the closets in the back pantry and I spotted the familiar finials of the swing that I'd seen in pictures. It had fallen apart, but all of the pieces were there; I put it back together, and hung it back on the hooks that were still in place on the porch ceiling. My mother was so delighted to have the swing back, and she was like a little girl again when she would sit in it.
This was the upstairs porch when I was living there in 1990....
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Web Pages by
Betty James Smith
11 July 2000
Web Pages Revised by
James L. Edenfield
16 Jun 2001