I don't know how I was lucky enough to have ended up with Grandpa Tom's rocking chair - perhaps it was just a matter of having a baby at the right time. I didn't even realize exactly what I was getting when they loaded this heavy, built-to-last chair into the back of the van and drove it 300 miles to my house. All I knew is that my cheap, "some assembly required" rocking chair had broken, and I had a young child who missed it desperately.
I had seen the chair at my grandmother's house for as long as I could remember, in fact, I remember her re-upholstering the seat in the late 1960's. I never thought a thing about its origins, until I was browsing through some old pictures of my great-grandparents' home, and there it was! I assumed that after my great-grandmother, Virta, passed away, my grandparents inherited it. I asked my great aunt, Mabel, who was Virta's daughter, if she knew anything of it's origins, and she confirmed that it was Virta's father, Thomas L. Graves, who made this chair.
Tom made two rocking chairs, my mother said, and what became of the other one, we do not know. Actually, Tom was a carpenter and a farmer by trade, among other ventures, and he not only constructed these two chairs, but numerous pieces of furniture, and with his son Delbert built a number of homes, barns, and even a two-story double-wide store in Esmond, South Dakota. In his spare time, he liked to whittle, using soft stone. Truly a creative man.
I don't know when he built this rocking chair - he died in 1933, at the age of 71, and I'm not sure when he retired from his life of woodworking, or if death was what ended his avocation.
But what I do know is that many generations of his young descendants were comforted in that chair, and his daughters, granddaughters, great-granddaughters, and great-great-granddaughters have tenderly held their sleeping infants in it. Most recently, my own granddaughter, Alyssa, who represents Generation Number Seven, joins the fold, and hopefully the tradition won't end there.