The Porta Cocker

I learned to read when I went to first grade.  Back in the day, in the little town that I grew up in, there was no kindergarten, and even if there were, my mother wouldn’t have sent me.  That’s because my BigBroBob, 11 years my senior, went to kindergarten when they lived in another state long before I was born.  It was not a successful career for the BigBro, because in today’s world he would probably be labeled ADD, or ADHD, or PIA.  Back then, he was probably labeled “T.R.O.U.B.L.E.”

But BigBro’s kindergarten experience was bad enough that the old Ma decided to keep any ensuing children home until they were old enough to go to the first grade.  So, yay me.

I fell in love with reading, and I read everything.  Cereal boxes at the breakfast table, road signs, magazines, and *books*, ah, books.  I was a fast reader, and I moved quickly into chapter books, even though I didn’t understand everything I read.  If there was a word that I didn’t know, I did not stop to look it up, and actually I’m not sure if there was a dictionary in my household.  I just made up a sound in my head for the unknown word, and tried to figure out what it meant by context as I continued to read.  There wasn’t really anyone to ask for help with pronunciation because my father was at work or asleep in his chair, and my mother was preoccupied with her own issues.  I wasn’t just reading school books, I was reading those fascinating books like the Bobbsey Twins, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Little Women, and Nancy Drew mysteries.

So I was in my own little world of people who went somewhere (the Bobbsey Twins went to the beach!  I was seventeen before I saw the beach, and probably twelve before I ever left the state, and that was just to go to Kentucky.), and people who did things (Nancy Drew had a boyfriend, and they were out solving mysteries!), and people who knew stuff (Jo in Little Women was a tomboy AND a scholar!).  So it hardly mattered if I made up my own words, because it was all in my head anyway.

One day, I came across the word “porte cochere”.  Oh golly.  I had been using my method of giving sounds to words, just sounds that didn’t necessarily match anything, but I used the same sounds every time I came across the word.  I decided that it was time to do better, and I decided to use the phonics method and “sound it out”.  P-O-R must be “pour”, and T-E must be “teh”.  Pour-teh.  Porta.  There, that was good.

Cochere.  C-O-C must be “cock”, and H-E-R-E must be “herr”, because obviously this was foreign word, and it needed to be pronounced with some zip and pizazz.

POR-ta COCK-er.

And every time I came to that word, I pronounced it, in my head, not porte cochere, but porta cocker.


One day Sugar and I were out and about, and I saw a house with a porta-cocker.

Me:  “Look!  A porta-cocker!”

Sugar:  (Silence)

Sugar:  “That’s a porte-cochere.”

Me:  “I know!  That’s what I said!”

Sugar:  (Silence)


There are lots of porta-cockers in my little town.

And now, a photo essay of porta-cockers in my town.  Can you find the porta-cocker in each photo?  (Some of the photos are taken out the passenger window and that weird reflection is my laundry basket.  Sorry for the poor planning on my part.)

A porta-cocker and a car port.



Shameful abomination of a porta-cocker.


Not a porte cochere at all.


This is a side view of a porta cocker. This house is on a corner, which afforded a grand view of the side.


Bee-you-ti-ful example of a porta cocker.



A grander porta cocker than most in the town.


These folks done took their porta-cocker and turned it into a porch and room, sorta like a porcha-roomer. (I just made that porcha-roomer part up.)


Not a porta cocker.


Here's a well-done example of a conversion. This house at one time faced the street I'm driving on. A porch was added to the side, incorporating the porte cochere, and the old side became the new front. This house was converted into a realty office. That's their parking lot you see.


Same building as the picture above. See how the old porta cocker used to look?

And last, but certainly not least, is quite possibly the most beautiful porta cocker in the town.  This former home is a law office now, and the grounds are constantly being landscaped and renovated.  It was hard to get this shot because there’s usually someone at this office in the daytime, and it gets dark so early now.  I made a special Saturday trip to take this photo.

Now I want a porta cocker…


8 Responses to “The Porta Cocker”

  1. leo Says:

    I (I think like you) pride myself on knowing at least something about almost anything, but this time you got me. I don’t recall that I ever heard of a porte cochere, much less a porta cocker. I had to go ask Google waht it was. Now I think it is similar to a Mickey D’s drivethrough.


    • ruthrawls Says:

      I believe that it’s an opening, or a port, for a carriage, most ideally for someone to alight out of the inclement weather, but I also believe that you are correct in applying the term to the updated business model, the drive-through window.


  2. Kariann Says:

    Great post! I also have never heard of a porte cochere.

    The love of reading..I knew we are kindreds. 🙂


  3. Sharon Says:

    Enjoyable as always, Ruth. Why aren’t you in a newspaper? Anyway, reading…..I decided I move away from home when my step-father threw out my childhood books while moving when I was 17. I could have taken most else, but that was too much!

    Words…..I thought for many years that the Beatles were singing “Jack-a-roo, baby”, what did I know of “chant guru deva”? Then, a few years ago, while buying a bottle of wine, there it was! Jack-a-Roo wine from Australia! Of course we bought it.


    • ruthrawls Says:

      Sharon, you will be pleased to know that all of my commenters on this post are from *NEW YORK*!
      Now I have to find some Jack-a-Roo!


  4. Linda T Says:

    I asked Google about porta cocker and it only brought up this blog!


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