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IMG_0670I inherited an old wooden rocking chair that my mom had kept in her bedroom to rock babies at night for many years.  It later found it’s place in the family room to witness many more years of family gatherings, and was finally relegated to the basement where three bachelor brothers had set up housekeeping.  With no emotional attachment, the guys decided it was just getting in the way.  One of the rockers was broken, anyway, so I was given one last chance to claim it before it was hauled off to the donation center.

I am just sentimental enough that it would have broken my heart if I had found out it had been discarded.  No one knows its origins for sure, but family lore says it belonged to my Great Grandfather, John Henry Ellis.

John Henry Ellis 1893

John Henry Ellis 1893

In its condition it wasn’t very pretty.  Its mismatched blue cushions were faded and one runner was detached.  It’s no La-Z-Boy recliner, but it’s always been a comfortable asset to whichever room it occupied.  For me, it was well worth restoring for the sake of another comfy seat, as well as preserving history.


With a temporary fix in place on the rocker, I began to give it a facelift.  I had a stroke of luck acquiring (for free!) a delightful piece of black textured vinyl.  I cut it to fit each cushion, stitched up the sides, fit them with zippers, and squared off the corners to accommodate the depth of the foam.



The tricky part came next:  the permanent (I hope) repair on the rocker.  I got the drill out and cleaned the broken dowels (and part of a screw!) out of the holes in the rocker and in the legs.  Then I sorted through the tinder box and found a straight stick about 3/4 inch in diameter and got busy with a pocket knife carving two new dowels about 2 1/2 inches long and just big enough around to wedge tight into the holes.  Just to be sure, I added a little wood glue, then I sanded off the end of the dowels flush with the rocker.

This is John Henry and Mary Alillias' family.  My grandfather is standing third from the left.

This is John Henry and Mary Alillias Ellis’ family, dated 1918.  My grandfather is standing third from the left.

I didn’t refinish the wood.  After all, who knows if a few of the scratches might have appeared when my own grandfather was a little boy rocking with his mother in this very chair.  I can only hope!