I have always loved rocking chairs.
When I was just a really little kid one of the best things about visiting Grandma Howard on East Fifth Street was her rocking chair. She complained that it wasn’t made quite right, but all of us cousins thought it was just fine.
After the adults made their way to the kitchen to play cards, we cousins would take turns rocking as hard as we could in that old chair. If you did it just right, it would hesitate for a heart stopping second at the top of the rock as if it would tip all the way over.
As I recall, it never went over because just when we thought it would an adult voice would interrupt from the kitchen, “What are you kids doing in there?”
We would slow down so the adults wouldn’t come in to find out what we were doing. After all, we were having fun, so we probably weren’t supposed to be doing it.
When we had our first baby, my mother-in-law gave me her mother’s old straight-back sewing rocker. I remember rocking five babies in that one. Then there was an upholstered one with arms that served our last three babies.
As soon as we could, we bought rocking lawn chairs for the front porch, and then we bought an old porch glider at Otilla McGreevey’s auction. Every summer I repainted the glider and hoped the paint would hold it together for another year.
My mom gave me the heavy old Boston rocker my dad rocked me in when I was a baby. He always sang to me when he rocked. One of his favorites I still remember. I don’t know the title but the first words were “It was midnight on the ocean, not a streetcar was in sight. A barefoot boy with shoes on stood sitting in the light.”
One of our boys stripped it, varnished it, and reupholstered the seat and back. Now it’s in the guest room for the comfort of overnight guests. They’re about the only ones who rock in it now, because when we don’t have guests I have stuff piled up in it.
Our desk chairs are rolling, swivel rockers so I can roll over to the phone when it rings, swivel to reach my dictionary, and rock when I need to think.
I think our grandkids will always remember the rocker recliners in our living room when they grow up. That’s where most of the books are read, and that’s where I sing their special song when they’re fussy.
When the older ones were tiny I always sang “Rock a bye Baby” to put them to sleep. If I could sing louder than they could cry, they would eventually give up and go to sleep.
When they got older and stronger they still needed a nap sometimes. “Rock a bye Baby” didn’t suit their more modern ears, so they helped me make up new words they thought were cooler.
“Rock a bye Baby (or use kids’ names) in the recliner.
I want you to know that nothing is finer.
If the chair breaks, they’ll fall on the floor,
Roll over the rug and out the front door.”
Now, if you think that’s too violent, consider the original. The baby falls out of the cradle which is blowing in the tree tops.
I have to admit it doesn’t put them to sleep because there are usually several on my lap, and they’re laughing too hard to sleep. But they do relax and wind up in a better mood.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Nov. 11, 1998.