What is a “Den” and “Parlor”?

I have wondered about a curious practice I experienced since I have lived in rural Texas. Often, actually always when we visit neighbors we are met in the yard and the visit entirely is conducted there, outside the house.

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This was never done when I was younger and when I first come to Texas. I vaguely felt this practice of not inviting us into the house was a kind of slight.

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Looking back in time I realized things began changing about 1960. Before that houses usually had a “Den” and a “Parlor” in the layout plans . Anyone remember these terms?

The Den was where people lived and sprawled out with clutter and the mess of active lives. The Den was often at the back of the house or off to the side.

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The Parlor was usually at the front of the house and was forbidden to the household occupants. My neighbor had fine furniture in her parlor. It had “tasteful” ornaments and pictures all around. Children were threatened with punishment if they dared to sit in this room.

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Since the parlor was kept orderly, people were invited in to visit. They would be seated and offered refreshment.

Today Dens and Parlors don’t seem to exist. We live in the front “Living Room” and create the clutter and mess of our active lives. If we expect someone we stash the clutter and straighten up the mess so the place is “fit for company”. However, if someone appears unexpectedly-we certainly do not want them to see the actual way we live daily-so we hurry to the door and come out to greet visitors.

Meeting us outside is not meant to be any comment on our suitability to be invited inside?

Do you think I am right about this? Please let me know what you think.

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