There it sits beneath the basement steps, a box of books and three old pictures on it. Covered with a good heavy coat of dust, that old green rocker has surely been around. I pass it by and start upstairs, and just as I do reach the top, I stop, pause, then turn around and go back downstairs. I get down on my knees, them a-popping and not wanting to move. I remove the pictures and look at them, old frames with varnish that has long ago turned black. I take the box of books off the chair and work it out from under the stairs. I pull it out in the middle of the floor then quickly put everything else back.
I tote it up the stairs and out on the back porch. I look at it, walk around it twice, then I grasp the knob on the top of the back. I push and shove, oh it is strong, no loose glue joints do I find. Then I slowly into it sit, leaning back, starting to rock.
“Wow, this is comfortable,” I do say, as outside I do it take. I get the sprayer and hose it down, trying to wash off all the dust and dirt. I shake it hard and bounce it once or twice, then take it back to the back porch.
I sit back down and can’t believe oh how dumb I can really be. For I forgot that that old wicker, seats and backs, do hold lots of moisture.
“This feels comfortable,” I again say, and then I turn it upside down. No paint on the bottom of the rockers, so I take it into the house, placing it where I usually sit in the living room. I sit down again and look at the television set.
Finally, out I go and forget all about my old chair, as I do some plants water. When I am done, for it is near supper time, I start back into the house. But there on the back porch sets that old green rocking chair.
“I will not have that thing in my house, looks too much like poor white trash. You have a good and expensive rocker in there,” she said pointing to the living room.
“But this is an antique. I think it belonged to great grandpa Major Snow,” I did say, as some nostalgia it had induced when I remembered to whom it had belonged. See Great grandpa the Major Snow, had lost a leg at Second Bull Run, and from this chair, I have been told, he directed the running of his farm. Sixteen sons and four daughters he and Grandma Mary did have. Well, I went into my harangue and tried to sell my wife the idea of me sitting in that comfortable chair.
“You want it in here, then refinish it, make it look presentable, for I know beneath that dang green enamel is a pretty piece of wood,” she replied, and she said not another word.
Now fixing and refinishing furniture I have done, matter a fact, quite a good bit of it. So I think, 'strip it down, sand it smooth then tongue oil it'. Off to the barn with the rocker I did go, where I got out the paint-stripper. First, I honed and stropped my putty knife and tried to get under the enamel.
The next morning, early it was, when I did go back into the barn. Turned on classical music and began to strip the chair. By ten past nine, out of stripper I was, so off I go to the hardware store.
A gallon of paint stripper and two pairs of paint stripping rubber gloves, and I was back at it again. By night fall the wood I had stripped, but had not touched the wicker seat or the wicker back. I tried, but it seemed to not work, so I sat down and read the directions.
I applied the stripper very thickly, two more gallons I did buy. Then after it sat awhile, I did hit it with the power washer. Hi pressure, 2,500 psi of it, I did spray on the wicker part. All I got was a run and smear, all I got was one big mess. And I bet you have the result guessed. It did not seem to work at all.
I called a furniture stripping place, described what I had, and the man said, in a quick terse reply, "$125, dollars with no guarantee".
I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and then said I would think about it. For three days I worked long and hard and not one dang thing would work.
So I swallowed hard again and to the furniture stripper I did go. Two days later I went back and there sat my chair without a seat or back. A big harangue the man and I had, as in the end I did the one-hundred-twenty-five dollars, plus tax I pay. I went home and got the telephone book out, looking for professional caners.
Finally of a caner I did learn and so I took the chair to Estes Park. Three weeks later and a $250 bill, I did pick up my chair. An unhappy camper I really was, for it was such an inferior job. Again, I lost and paid the bill, then took my chair home, swearing it would me make go broke. I sat it in the barn on a work bench, my wife soon was looking at it. Every flaw, every mistake, she did point out and make a derogatory comment. “I can do better than this!” She ups and walks away.
A month later, and after a big phone bill, we did receive from Kentucky, a chair-caning kit. In the mean time I had worked long and hard to refinish the chair frame. Three times I stained it and then stripped it off, until I got what I thought looked right. After I got it all finished and a nice deep tongue-oil finish, my wife did set to work.
Three days later it was done. I lemon oiled the cane, I did, and it did become a good-looking chair, a nice walnut color with lighter caning. It does shine and glisten. It does not squeak and it rocks real even and smooth.
So now in the chair I sit, wondering what grandpa, the Major Snow, would have thought if he could see his chair now. Funny, but you know what? Every time I sit in the chair, I do seem to close my eyes. I close my eyes and my mind wanders as I go back in time and reminisce. And then I look at the bills, at how much on that danged old chair I had spent. Over a thousand bucks it was, for a chair that most likely cost two dollars and fifty cents. But lucky for me, my wife has not one word uttered about this little project.
So if you ever come visit me, just remember one basic thing. That old wicker-backed rocker is only for my big bottom.