Jerry Apps: Old rocking chair has stories to tell

Jerry Apps
Memories of the past come back as author Jerry Apps rocks in his old rocking chair.

It’s just a wooden rocking chair, and it’s about as old as our marriage. That old rocking chair has stories to tell. Stories of rocking our three kids when they couldn't sleep or weren’t feeling well. Stories about when after a day of hard work, I sat in the old chair watching the sunset and listening to the birds call in the trees to the west of the cabin. Rocking slowly, enjoying the evening. Feeling good about life.

Often while rocking, I remember dad and mother, and what life was like on the home farm going back to the 1930s and 40s. I recall the old rocking chair that sat on the porch of our farmhouse, with Fanny, our farm dog resting nearby.

I will never forget those summer evening sitting on the back porch, my dad and mother and my two brothers, after a day of making hay, or shocking grain, or hoeing potatoes—always hoeing potatoes. We would talk some but mostly listen to the sounds of the early evening and enjoying those wonderful smells of new-mown hay coming from the hayfield in front of the house.

The old rocking chair reminds me of the early days at Roshara, back to 1966 when we bought the place. All coming back as I slowly rock in this old rocking chair. Stories about the grandkids when they were little and needed a little rocking in this old chair. Remembrances of my 70th birthday party, and a photo of me in that old chair in an invitation inviting people to help me celebrate.

So many stories associated with that old chair.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: A old rocking chair can become a memory chair.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to