By the time our four boys and four girls grew out of the rocking horse stage, it was in sad disrepair.
All bright and colourful in its new coat of paint, the wooden rocking horse, lovingly crafted by her godfather Ignatius Doctycz, was brought to our home many years ago as a gift for my little sister Helen. She was a diminutive toddler, not quite two years old and rather afraid of the multi-coloured toy. I had passed my sixth birthday but the toy horse just beckoned to me to ride him. It was sturdily built so Mother allowed me to get on it in the hopes of encouraging my little sister to try it. Our middle sister Olga was just the right age for it and she merrily rocked back and forth. But nothing would induce the littlest girl to get on it. She was three years old before she enjoyed her rocking horse and by then I had outgrown all interest in it. Eventually both younger girls grew too big to ride it so Mother stored it in a corner of the garage and we all forgot about it.
After completing high school, I graduated from teacher’s college and was hired at a little country school. I was fortunate to find room and board at the home of a very kind couple, Ben and Verna Kletzel. They had a school-aged girl, Joan, and a three-year-old boy, Ron.
Dad drove me from my home to the new location, 100 miles away. When he came to pick me up for the school break, he brought the refurbished wooden rocking horse. “I think the little boy will enjoy it,” he said. And indeed he did.
Several years later, I married into a nearby community and we started a family. One Sunday the Kletzels came to visit bringing an unexpected surprise, the little rocking horse. Our children really rode that horse, trying more tricks than I ever had. By the time our four boys and four girls grew out of the rocking horse stage, it was in sad disrepair. I relegated it to storage down in the basement where it languished for a number of years.
Eventually our children married and eldest son and his wife presented us with a grandson.
“What to get him for Christmas?” was the question one year. A rocking horse of course!
Digging through the “saved” items downstairs, I found the old rocking horse but it was in very poor shape. I took it to Pat, our talented woodworking teacher at the local high school.
“I really don’t think it is fixable,” Pat said. “The wood is cracked, the screws are loose and the rockers are worn out. But if you let me take him apart, I can make a pattern and make you a new rocking horse.”
Of course we said yes and by Christmas of that year we had a beautiful new hardwood rocking horse. The wood was so lovely we chose not to have it painted so our craftsman sanded and polished it to perfection. Now we had rocking horse II. The perfect gift for an active little boy. Of course, other grandsons arrived and we had several more rocking horses crafted to give as gifts.
When Pat retired and moved away, our son took the pattern pieces to his father-in-law, also a skilled woodworker. He made a beautiful hardwood rocking horse, a match for the other heirloom horses, to give to our newest grandson. I am sure that my youngest sister’s godfather never dreamed that his rocking horse pattern would be passed down through the generations.
What a great legacy from the kindly godfather.
Naden Hewko writes from Cactus Lake, Saskatchewan