A Child’s Rocking Chair, Through the Decades

Probably for Christmas one year in the 1940s, Leora Wilson gave little rocking chairs to each of her six grandchildren.

Gloria and I are entertaining our dolls, who are enjoying the little rockers. I’m pointing to where we live on the globe, which I still have.

I suppose this one, and my sister’s, were eventually relegated to a store room, as our old farmhouse didn’t have an attic. Both of us were 4-H members, in the Penn Township girls’ club called the Penn Gwens. We needed projects to complete, to record in our record books and for the Madison County Fair.

The little rocking chair became a project of painting and reupholstering it.

I noted that the name of the paint was Chiffon, and that I’d braided the rug, which was another project.

The fabric swatch gives you an idea of how much colored photos of that era have faded.

I’m sure Marilyn had more fun that it looks! Her rug was black, rose, and off white, made of old clothing. Mine was a light blue, made from a torn-apart electric blanket that no longer worked. Marilyn’s father, Bob Lawson, taught us the art of rug braiding.

Marilyn Lawson and I did a demonstration about making braided rugs from discarded clothing and blankets.

Meanwhile, I’d learned to do needlepoint. When son Dan was small, in the late 1970s, I refinished the chair. This time I designed and needlepointed upholstery for the seat.

Now the little rocking chair belongs to granddaughter Kate in the Twin Cities! She’s so busy, I don’t think she sit on it. Or anything else.


Marilyn had polio as a child.


  1. It’s interesting how a single photo can bring back memories of a dozen other things! What starts as a single rocker quickly becomes refurbishing projects, upholstery, rugs, globes, etc.! Enjoyed reading about them all.

  2. I made a rocker and chair and table and a hutch for my daughter. We kept them and
    eventually our grandkids played with them. She has the table now.

  3. This is such an interesting read, Joy. I agree with dlpedit about the associations a single photograph can bring to the fore. Your story reminds me of the child-sized Morris chair I have which used to belong to my mother. In due course it became ‘my’ chair and much later my son and daughter-in-law took it apart and refurbished it beautifully. They have since settled for other shores and so I intend passing it on to my youngest granddaughter in time (certainly while she still fits into it)!

    • Your memories are such a delight. This morning’s poem explored the seven-decades’ connection of this little rocker with Kate (age 4) with her father’s motherline. Before, I’d just considered its refinishing journey.

  4. What a fun club name ‘Penn Gwens’ adorable 🙂 Really enjoyed your posting and the photo’s. Love the dolls – brought back memories.

  5. I love the story of your little red rocker and its transformation through the generations! The braided rugs were fun, too, although Marilyn looked pretty grim.

  6. I love your refurbishment of the little rocker. The needlepoint is darling and I’ll bet stripping all that paint was a heck of a chore. Also like your rug projects. I think I tried my hand at that once, but didn’t produce anything worth keeping.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.