Sometimes song lyrics dance in my head as I walk along Wildcat Boulevard each morning. One day all I could think of was John Conlee’s “Mama’s Rocking Chair.”

Sometimes song lyrics dance in my head as I walk along Wildcat Boulevard each morning. One day all I could think of was John Conlee’s “Mama’s Rocking Chair.”
My growing up life was not quite the same as John Conlee’s with his Mama telling stories to the kids while rocking in her chair on the porch. Still, my Grandpas’ rocking chairs were a part of my younger years.
First, was the rocking chair of Grandpa Hillquist, my mother’s father. Grandpa Hillquist’s rocking chair was a wooden chair with the back and seat covered by some kind of tough cloth. It was a sturdy chair, much like Grandpa Hillquist, who was a short, blocky man.
His rocking chair dominated the center of their small living area, near the fuel oil stove that heated the home. He also had a hassock footstool, really a cloth covered box.
Grandpa had a bad leg. He hurt it while working as a Minnesota logger in the 1890s right after he came from Sweden. A tree split while they were cutting it down and a piece of trunk shot out and hurt his leg, so he always limped. He propped his bad leg on the hassock when he sat in his rocking chair.
Grandpa also carried a cane to help him walk in his elder years. He liked to use it to trip his many grandchildren as they were playing around his rocking chair.
One time he tripped me and I fell and hurt myself and cried and cried. He felt bad, but still tried to trip me the next time I came around.
My favorite thing to do was to bring the toy box into the room, set it beside the hassock, and play with my toys on top of the hassock.
Grandpa Hillquist was a happy man, always smiling and joking.
Grandpa Hively also had a special chair in the corner of their dining room where he always sat. It was a green stuffed chair, and not in the best of shape. The seat was lumpy and the cloth on it was worn and soiled. He said the lumps in the seat just fit him.
It had one time been a rocking chair, but the mechanism underneath went bad.
Grandpa Hively had a magazine table next to his chair. On it was his radio which he played to hear the news and weather from a South Dakota radio station. He thought because South Dakota was west of where we lived that their weather would always come our way later.
Besides his pipe and tobacco, he had an especially sharp jackknife on the table next to his chair. He used it for many things, but mostly for peeling the apple he ate before going to bed.
Grandpa and Grandma Hively always ate a piece of fruit before bedtime. Grandpa Hively’s favorite was an apple. He had a special way of peeling the apple with his jackknife and ended with a continuous peel when he was done. Then he sliced pieces off the apple itself and ate them.
Grandpa Hively was a quiet man unless you were fortunate to get him alone. I was an adult before he died, so I was fortunate enough to have several of these “alone” moments with him.
I was lucky to know both my Grandpas. They have been gone many years, but they and their chairs are still remembered.
If you wish to have an adventure before you start sitting in your rocking chair, you may be interested in being a paid park attendant at Beaver Lake. The Corps of Engineers is needing people to work next summer. You would stay in the campground and take fees, empty trash cans and do many other small jobs. If you are interested, contact Jared Trammell at 479-636-1210 ext. 1708.
Take a walk, drive the speed limit, sit in your favorite rocking chair with those you love like your grandchildren, use those signal lights, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.
 Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.