It’s not YOUR Granny’s cause it’s mine…my great grandmother’s to be exact – Eula Muse’s. This rocker sat in my grandmother’s house for as long as I can remember. When my great-grandmother became elderly, she moved in with my grandmother so she could be cared for full time. She did eventually go to live in a nursing home before the end of her life, but for a while she occupied the back room of my grandmother’s 1940’s home and so did some of her favorite things – this rocker included. It must have been the eighties when my Granny Eula moved into my Grandma’s house. The rocker stayed there until I moved into my own home in the mid nineties. I obviously had no furniture, so my grandmother told me to take it with me. As the story goes, my great-grandmother (Eula) had traded 2 chickens for the rocker many many years ago – sometime in the late teens/early twenties. Yes, that’s right – this baby is about 100 years old. My grandmother always chuckled when telling that story. It’s been old and worn as long as I can remember. Even as a small child I remember the paint flaking off and the deep grooved scratches on the arms. I sat in it as a teenager talking on the phone for hours (we were working on homework, I promise), and I totally remember carving lines and letters into the side of it as well. I think all of my cousins may have done this at some point. I also remember being totally disgusted that the bottom was made out of animal skin. The hide still had little tufts of fur on it for goodness sake – it grossed me out! When I moved it into my own home, I painted it a cream color and stenciled (wait for it…) hearts on the legs and back. I also added a huge ruffled pink and forest green checked pillow to the seat. Oh my… the nineties and the stenciling and the mauve color… yikes. It stayed like that for most of the the next 20 years… it survived several moves, a divorce and the better part of two decades in an attic or garage. I did have good intentions to make it over about 10 years ago. I bought a pack of sandpaper and started sanding off the pink hearts and thick cream paint and again, that’s where it stopped. I literally was about to throw it away a few years ago but I guess I started getting old because I realized the sentimental value it holds.
I don’t have a lot of “stuff” from ancestors/grandparents/great-grandparents. It seems like life gets busy and people get hurt and then before you know it an entire generation is gone and you really wish you could go back and ask a few more questions and hear a few more stories; and maybe hug more necks and kiss more cheeks. But generally, it seems these realizations happen too late. By the time I was entering my late twenties, all of my grandparents were gone from this Earth. I do have some memories and a few pictures, but I’m grateful I hung onto this rocker. It has so much more meaning to me than you could imagine.
So I finally got my motivation in gear and started the process of refurbishing it. I sanded every inch of that sucker down. The heavy scratches and grooves will always add a bit of character to the chair, but I was able to sand off the words that had been scratched into the paint. I didn’t take “before” or even “during” shots of the makeover. I actually found it just comforting to work on it alone with just my memories. To think of all the babies that have been rocked and all the naps that have been taken in that very chair. I like to think of the Louisiana porches where this chair sat – surely a few thunderstorms were watched and breezes felt.
I think the chair probably spent its early years with a natural wood finish. Some time later it was painted a dark burgundy color. – close to an oxblood. That color had definitely been on there at least twenty years before I remember it… So the red color was either original or painted on sometime before mid-century. As I sanded and sanded and then cleaned and deglossed and cleaned and deglossed again I think the idea of returning to that color started to form. I searched Pinterest for ideas and was undecided about going either bright white or a shiny black when I literally decided in the paint aisle that the original dark red (that I remember) was the way to go. There is some damage to the hide bottom, but Matt is going to construct me something that can go over it without removing the original hide. I used to hate that animal skin and now I find it beautiful and a nod to the way things used to be made.
I bought that sheep skin cover a few days ago for under $30. It’s soft (Milo loves to pet it) and I think it adds to the character and the original feel of the rocker.
Although it may look like a simple old rocker, maybe even one that could be found in a garage sale or thrift store – this one has a wealth of history and memories for me. I’m so happy that I finally rescued it. Once again it has a space in a home where it will be used and enjoyed by my family. My great-grandmother rocked in that rocker, as did my grandmother… so did my mother… and so have I. I’ve rocked my own children in it and who knows, maybe I will rock my grandchildren in it some day.
Do you have a special piece in your home that goes generations back? If so, hold onto it, if you don’t already treasure it you will someday soon.