Do you remember the very first storied piece you were given, rich with the history of the person who so generously gave it to you? Or would it be the first piece you actually found and bought for yourself that conjures memories of a certain time or place in your life?
For me the first piece was my Granddaddy’s old oak rocking chair that was left to me in his will. Actually, he had three or four rockers and instructed for me to choose one. As a teenager I knew immediately which one I wanted. It was the oak “squatty” fellow with the split down the middle of the seat being held together with a metal brace underneath.
I always loved that chair with the curved arms that held me in an embrace of belonging to something greater than my singular self. The warm grain of the bleached-out oak was begging to tell the stories of all who had sat down for a visit with the rhythm of the rockers keeping cadence with the southern drawls of the occupants - my family, my kin before me.
I can still hear my Granddaddy’s powerful voice telling stories of the Wells family or sharing the latest antics of the many birds and squirrels that made daily visits up the ramp to the back window for a variety of nuts and seeds that my Granddaddy lovingly provided. Many of the birds simply waited until Granddaddy walked outside and dipped his hand into his coat pocket and then they landed on his outstretched hand for a meal. I never grew tired of hearing these stories on Sunday visits and I never grew tired of rocking in the squatty chair that some have recently thought was an early Stickley. Although it has no visible signs of a signature, it does have the “feel” and look of those early pieces.
Wooden pegs were meticulously used by the craftsman in the early part of the 20th century to fit arms to body, to back, to seat, to rockers- all to create, not just a chair, but a piece of a family’s story. My family’s story.
I love that rocker. For decades I didn’t change a thing about the chair, but finally succumbed to common sense when it no longer could support even a small child. It was beautifully repaired and given a much needed coat of wax on the dried out wood. Although the darker color is new to me, I imagine that it originally looked just like this and we have gotten down to another layer of family stories just waiting to be passed along.