I've never thought these were particularly comfortable, but they are a lot of fun! They've been at Midway airport for many years now and I guess they must have had a contest at some time or else asked artists to do fun interpretations. They're getting a little creaky and some of the chairs had broken slats - but of course they must get a ton of use. Anyway, my verdict is . . . FUN!
Several people posted comments to my blog post about the low quality of Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. One lady said she wished that she had read my blog before buying the chairs, another said "I agree 100%!". A third reader asked if I can recommend another chair. Well, my favorite high quality rocking chair so far (I'm still looking as always!) is the Independence Rocker, which is the photograph I used in the masthead of this site (click on the name for a link to the chair itself on the Decor Americana site). I also appreciate the fact that they have volume pricing, so that if you buy two chairs, you pay a lower price per chair, and for four chairs, a lower price still. And yes, they cost more than Cracker Barrel! But I imagine that's because they are actually weatherproof and well built, which is my whole complaint about the Cracker Barrel ones, which just don't hold up, and frankly are not comfortable compared with many other rockers. I took some pictures of the incredibly flat seats and backs of Cracker Barrel rockers, and I will post those when I find them. Any rocker is comfortable, but the difference between "any rocking chair" and truly great one IS A PLEASURE!!
Eek! Here are some of those horrendous Lowe's made-in-China rocking chairs again! I once bought one of these and it broke TWICE just while I was assembling it. They use some mystery wood that's about as strong as balsa, and cover it up with black paint so you don't realize how low quality the wood is. It's very lightweight and that's a clue - and then so is the cheap design. Just check out the ramrod-straight backs of these chairs. Same with the seat - virtually no contouring at all. These Lowe's Rocking Chairs win the STAY AWAY award! And if you buy them, please put them somewhere that people don't actually go, because if anyone sits on them, they're going to fall right through them - if not this season, then next. Check out the reviews of this rocker at Lowe's.com - lots of breakage.
These awesome rockers made a connection in Philadelphia go oh-so-smooth. Handsome and tall, they were heavy and tight and felt good to rock in. I would have liked a seat cushion but I can imagine they don't want to deal with spills in an airport - and actually, the seat was contoured and very comfortable - really didn't need a cushion. I believe this is where you can buy the airport rocking chair - see the photo in white - it's the same thing.
The rockers were painted white and looked great - I thought better than the random colors and styles you see at Midway in Chicago, or the creaky chairs in some other airports.
Why doesn't every airport have great rocking chairs to wait in?
This has been called "the most famous chair in America" - the rocking chair brought by President John F. Kennedy to the White House and used there throughout his presidency (and Johnson's presidency too). Kennedy had a bad back resulting from war injuries and took the rocker everywhere he went. He had an identical chair in the Oval Office, in his residence at the White House, in the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Camp David, and Air Force One.
As you might imagine, a chair chosen by the President to his bad back is a very good quality chair - both durable and very comfortable. It has a nicely contoured seat and back, smooth rounded thick posts, and long runners that enable you to find a comfortable recline position. The back post is steam bent to give it additional angle, which is a very nice and fairly rare feature. I have sat in these rockers and they are very comfortable. I do not think they are comfortable as the Independence Rocker which I blogged about earlier, but for a rocker with a woven seat and back (which necessitates less contour for manufacturing reasons), it's pretty nice..
The chair is still available today. It's official name is the "Carolina Rocker" but it has always been nicknamed "The Kennedy Rocker" or the "Presidential Rocker" ever since JFK discovered them. You can buy them for $598 currently (may seem like a lot but shipping is free, which costs $100 otherwise) at Frontera Furniture. Here is another excellent website with the story of the original Kennedy Rocker.
This is a color picture of the Kennedy Rocker in the oval office.
I just found this photo on the internet, but it demonstrates one of my pet peeves, which is rockers that have straight backs. These aren't the worst out there, but it gives me a case of "straight back vertigo"!
For more information about why an elbow-cut back post is more comfortable than a straight back, read my other posts on finding the perfect rocking chair.
Another example of a straight-backed rocker with very little contour in the seat or back. Still a nice place to take tea (or whiskey, since this photo is from Gatlinburg, Tennessee), but just not as comfortable as a nicer rocker.
OK, these are the biggest mysteries in the furniture world. I'm not sure who would think this misproportioned chair is attractive, and having sat in one, I can't imagine anyone thinking they're comfortable either! All the proportions are wrong, and you get this uncomfortable "sliding out of the chair" feeling whenever you're in one. The back is flat as a board and it has about the shortest runners you've ever seen. There were a bunch of these in an airport I was in recently, and I couldn't sit still for a moment, because I kept shifting around figuring there must be some position I would be comfortable in. There wasn't!
So I always wonder why people buy these? I figure the main reason is that they have had a bad experience with a rocker advertised as a "porch" or "outdoor" rocker but which wasn't made of a weatherproof wood, and they figured the only answer was to get plastic rockers the next time. Shame on the furniture industry for that - of course there are weatherproof woods, like teak and brazilian cherry, but stores are always acting like you can have it all for nothing - $99 for a porch rocker! So people end up with junk, and two years later they come back and buy plastic out of desperation.
The other theory is that people are buying these awful rockers in order to be environmentally correct. Now, compared with piece of junk rockers that rot and end up in a landfill after two years, this is very environmentally correct. But these are so nasty and uncomfortable, my suspicion is that a lot of them are in a landfill in a few years themselves. But if you buy a high quality rocking chair, then it lasts forever, and that seems the most environmentally friendly at all.
I have to admit, a ladderback rocking chair has a very classic look to it. They remind me of colonial living and early America. But they don't sit very well. Oh, a ladderback might feel good to you. But if it feels good to you, it probably won't feel good for someone else, because the back slats hit different people at a different spot on their back - and if that spot happens to be just under your sholder blade, it doesn't feel very good.
For the same reason, you can be sitting comfortably in a ladderback rocker, and if you shift a bit in your seat, you can get a sharp pinch as you hit a slat. Anyway, they're still great to look at, but I woudn't buy one if I were you!
But if you do want a ladderback rocking chair, get it here. They cost $450 but they are very well made from maple. They have the traditional on-edge shaker runners, and a canvas tape woven shaker seat. Also the slats are wide and chamfered so that it doesn't hurt when you move your shoulder blades.
I think this the best rocking chair I've ever sat in. I saw it at the Hilton at Virginia Beach (they're white there, but this photo came from the company that made it). They're made of a weatherproof, or at least highly weather resistant wood called Robinia and can be bought from Frontera Furniture. It's a big chair but not too big for regular or even small people - but it does have a really nice mass that gives it a really nice rock that kind of carries you with it. It's called the World's Finest Rocker. Pretty grand name - but actually I think it lives up to it.
The rocker has a contoured seat and back and also an elbow-cut angle in the back post which gives it a fantastic recline angle that just takes all the weight off your back.
This curdles my blood a bit, but I thought it was fun! I admit, I haven't tried this rocker, but I would if I saw one in person. I especially like the "stirrups" where you mount your feet while rocking!
Holden loves rocking chairs and loves writing about them almost as much.