Sunday, March 30, 2014

Platform Rockers

In December, 1899 the British steamship Ariosto wrecked on the north end of Ocracoke Island. Captain Baines presented the platform rocker from his cabin to my great-grandfather as a token of appreciation for saving his life. My father refinished, re-glued, and re-caned the chair more than forty years ago.

Captain's Chair from the Ariosto 

Shortly afterward, in the mid 1970s, my father made two dozen near replicas of the captain's chair. Every one was constructed with at least some lumber that he found washed up on the beach. The chairs sold for $250 each.

Lawton Howard with three Handmade Chairs

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:47 AM

    One hand-made cane rocking chair for $250?


    I'll be down sometime later this year to pick it up.


  2. Anonymous8:15 AM

    What a treasure you own. From everything you've written, I suspect there was very little your father couldn't make or fix. The man was the real treasure.
    Have you inherited his talent?

    1. I have done a bit of woodworking in the past, but not much lately. I've built two houses, a cool treehouse, a gypsy wagon, and kitchen cabinets. My dad was a welder by trade, but was a good house carpenter, boat builder, furniture maker, and bird carver.

  3. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Mercy! I wonder if the now owner has any idea of the provenance of the rocker in their possession? For a treat, an awesome song by an awesome song writer is found on you tube. Steve Goodman begins the set with Banana Republic and concludes with the song, written in 1977-- The Twentieth Century is almost Over. what a hoot. Now some savy songwriter need to pen The Twenty-First Century-- a New beginning or some such nonsense to keep our heads from spinning.

    1. My father carved his signature, "Ocracoke, NC," the date (mine was made in 1975), and the chair number on every chair he made. Somewhere I have a list of every person who purchased one. I know where 5 of them are today. Only two are on Ocracoke.

  4. I bought #15 at a thrift store in Reno, Nv in July, 2019.