Everybody Else’s History

Rocking baby, knitting at the same time!

Reenactment by:  Vickey Houston
Reenactment by: Vickey Houston

ALLIANCE – Welcome back to ‘Everybody Else’s History.’ This week I would like to share something  really unique and interesting. A rather ingenious item! I have only seen two of these in my whole life, and I was thrilled when I acquired one for my man cave. 

It is called a “granny bench” or a “nanny bench.” They were used during a time when, quite often, multi-generations lived under one roof. A time when either grandmama or an older sibling was in charge of looking after the younger children.

Times when the daddy may have been working in the fields from “can’t see to can’t see.” (Sun up to sun down.) And a time when the mama washed clothes by hand, cooked three full meals a day, and sometimes was working in the fields along side of her husband. 

If you were the one appointed to watching younger children, you didn’t set them in front of a TV all day, and it didn’t mean you got to sit around all day. Look closely at the photo – a cradle and a rocking chair combined!

Grandmama might sit on the bench mending clothes or knitting a blanket while also rocking the baby! An older sibling might sit on the bench shelling butter beans or snapping string beans, while rocking the baby. Mama may have even sat on the bench, just to catch her breath for minute, while rocking the baby. 

Either way, everybody contributed to the running of the household in one way or another. From the oldest to the youngest, nobody sat around doing nothing! So this unique piece of furniture made it a little easier for people to ‘multi-task’ (using a modern era term).

And, just to add to the versatility of this bench, the railing could be easily removed to become a two-person rocker. Two folks could sit and rock away their troubles! It was a rocking bench appreciated by many. Sadly, these days the “granny bench” is used only as a conversation piece. We now have other kinds of inventions that can rock our babies for us. 

I have been entrusted with hundreds of intriguing items. I look forward to sharing other stories with you real soon. 

Editor’s note: Readers may contact Lisa Rice at (252) 675-7489.