Rocking then and now.

“Americans have a taste for…rocking-chairs. A flippant critic might suggest that they select rocking-chairs so that, even when they are sitting down, they need not be sitting still. Something of this restlessness in the race may really be involved in the matter; but I think the deeper significance of the rocking-chair may still be found in the deeper symbolism of the rocking-horse. I think there is behind all this fresh and facile use of wood a certain spirit that is childish in the good sense of the word; something that is innocent, and easily pleased.”

-G.K. Chesterton in What I Saw in America, 1922

This is the rocking chair I love best, because it is mine, and I have a lot of history with it. Before I was even engaged to be married, I visited the summer cabin of my boyfriend’s family, where this chair sat against one wall of the living room of “La Casita.” Only a big teddy bear sat in it back then, perched on the dome of the cushion whose springs had long ago sprung out of any human’s comfort zone.

And so it remained for decades, until the cabin was sold and we acquired the chair for this house, and had it refurbished. I just ran across a remnant of the upholstery fabric we chose, quite bright compared to the faded seat that still wears it.

I’ve owned three other rocking chairs over the years, and none was as satisfactory as the current one. The first was a platform rocker that had belonged to another grandma of my husband; the whole chair was too big for me. I nursed all my babies in that chair, and spent quite a lot of time in it over many years, filling in the extra space and propping up my arms with pillows.

Another rocker came from one of the grandmas. It had a nice feel but was unbearably and incurably squeaky. And then there was the one found in the neighborhood with a “FREE” tag on it. How could I not bring it home? But it didn’t fit in with our decor, however you would describe that, and had too big a rocking-footprint for any room in the house. Out it went again.

I’ve realized by this time that on my own I am not much of a rocker, no matter how romantic I feel about the chairs that help one do it. Even though in many pictures of me opening Christmas presents, I am sitting in one.

As I recall, some babies like being rocked, and some don’t. I wonder if a liking for rocking as an infant is predictive of certain personality traits later in life? I don’t know if my mother rocked me, but my father built this rocking horse for us, which I have no memory of. Maybe I wasn’t into rocking on it, either! It looks like it might have required some skill to ride and shoot at the same time.

I wonder if people who use rocking chairs when they are restless,
or to rock away their worries,
are doing more rocking these days?

14 thoughts on “Rocking then and now.

  1. That’s interesting — I like rocking chairs too, but rarely sit in them! They’re usually too “hard,” even with a pad. But yours looks quite comfy — and I love the Mission style. I wonder if it is a Stickley or Limbert — is it tagged? Simply adore the rocking horse photo!

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  2. I now have two rocking chairs. Grandmother’s, very creaking, chair. It seems so frail to me, just because I remember her being small and frail the last time I saw her sitting in it. The other is much sturdier. David’s aunt and uncle gave it to me when we helped them move out of their cabin in shaver lake. I couldn’t believe no one wanted it! My gain. But like you, I seldom sit in them.

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  3. I have always dreamed of owning a rocking chair – my Granny had one which I loved sitting on when I was very young. Reading your narrative and the comments, I wonder if I would really enjoy sitting in one as much if I really had one.

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  4. No rocking chair around here any more but I do love a comfy rocker. When the weather gets warmer I’ll be out on the porch swing rocking away.

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  5. When I sit, I like to be doing something with my hands, so I am not much into rocking either.
    Yes, I do think it might be a good time to do some rocking and worrying. I love you on your rocking horse. Surely you still have it!

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    1. Since I published that post only this morning, my sisters and I have been discussing the horse. We are afraid that our father did not build it, or we would surely still have it! And our memory is only of the picture…

      It is very sad — for me, especially, who was the only one ever pictured on the horse — to have this tiny bit of what seemed to be history, suddenly become suspect. And it steals from our memory of our father, too, whom we knew capable of building anything he wanted.

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  6. I vividly remember the chair my mother rocked me in. It was painted white, with spindles and wide arms, and the seat was covered with some sort of burgundy ‘fabric’ — not cloth, and not leather. Naugahyde, or something similar, I suppose. It was large enough that it was a good ‘reading chair,’ too.

    Rocking chairs are de rigueur for porches in Texas — at least, in the country. Louisiana, too. Of course, we’re easily entertained, and porch-sitting’s been raised to an art over the years!

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  7. I love this post. The photo of you on the mysterious rocking horse captivates me. The spirit of the rocking chair enchants me. As you know, we’ve had a rocker and later a glider in the home while having babies, however, only one baby seemed relaxed and true lover of rocking. Can you guess which child? I do think temperament and maybe motion sensitivity comes to play.

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  8. I have one that my grandfather had the seat refinished on and gave me when our 1st baby came, she is 19 now. Last year I bought my husband a Cracker Barrel rocking chair because he likes them bigger. Now we both have one and although they are currently inside, I think it’s nice to sit on the porch in a rocker.

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