Grandpa and the Rocking Chair

My grand-dad was Albert Adelbert Thomas, known to his family as “Del” and mostly to others as “A.A.”. I got to know him best in 1949 and 1950. At that time I was 13 and he was about 85. I saw him daily due to my paper route. I delivered the Wichita Beacon and Walnut Street where Grandma and Grandpa lived was a large portion of my route.

We had a regular routine for my daily visits. I would usually show up around 4:30 P.M., give or take 15 minutes. Grandpa would be sitting in the living room in his rocking chair and listening to the radio. Grandma would be in the kitchen preparing a snack for me. Grandma, “Etta”, was 77 at the time and she felt it was her duty to feed me every day because “a young boy is always hungry”. It was ok with me because Grandma’s snacks were always delicious and usually amounted to a bowl of her home-canned peaches, bread and butter, and a glass of milk.

I would come in the front door, hand Grandpa his paper and go on to the kitchen to see Grandma. I’d sit at the kitchen table and while I ate, we would each tell our stories about the happenings of the day. After eating I would join Grandpa in the living room and listen to whatever serial was playing on the radio. As I recall, the radio networks began playing the 15 minute adventure serials at 4:00 P.M. and continued until 5:30 or 6:00. Some of the shows I remember were The Green Hornet, The Shadow, Roy Rogers, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and Jack Armstrong the All-American Boy.

Grandpa loved the noise and the action and as the sound effects grew louder and more hectic he got more and more excited. The stories were gripping and as they developed to the point where the fights started, Grandpa was all fired up and ready for action. His rocking chair would start going back and forth faster and faster and he would start waving his arms and shouting “Get the black-hearted devil” or “Set the dog on him” or whatever words were needed. A few times, Grandpa rocked faster and faster until his rocking chair tipped over backwards. The first time I saw this, I had just come through the front door and saw it happen. I yelled for Grandma and she came running in from the kitchen and saw that he wasn’t hurt. She said it had happened before and when she was by herself she just rolled Grandpa out of the chair and had him get on his hands and knees and then stand up. She said it was hard for him to do so since I was there to help, we would just lift up the back of the chair and set it upright. Well, I wasn’t so sure about that. I don’t know how big Grandpa was but I would guess that he was over 6 foot and probably weighed 240 or 250. I was a 13 year old pip-squeak that hadn’t had the final growth spurt to make him man-sized. Grandma was 77 years old and wasn’t very big. I didn’t know it at the time but Grandma, like all pioneer women, was stout as an ox. We got behind the old man and straining for all we were worth, finally got him upright. He was no worse for the wear and since he couldn’t curb his enthusiasm, I saw it happen one other time. As the Shadow says, “danger is lurking everywhere.”

Dave Thomas
April 23, 2013

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