Rocking horse takes on new life for next generation

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Common Bob Rock, at center, talks with Joan Powaser and son Mike about the restoration work in the Oakwood Common woodshop.

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Common
Bob Rock, at center, talks with Joan Powaser and son Mike about the restoration work in the Oakwood Common woodshop.

 

DEARBORN – If a child’s rocking horse could talk, the Powaser family heirloom of 57 years might have more adventures to tell than “Toy Story,” the computer animated film produced by Pixar.

Joan Powaser, a resident of Oakwood Common, was delighted when her youngest son, Mike, discovered an old rocking horse in the family’s Dearborn Heights attic. Sadly, it was in pieces.

“It was a Christmas gift from my husband’s younger brother, Bob, to my oldest son, Greg, when he was 16 months old,” Powaser said. Greg was the oldest of six children, born to Joan and her husband, the late Dr. Thomas Powaser, who died of Parkinson’s disease less than two years ago.

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Common Family photo of Greg Powaser on the rocking horse he received for his second birthday in 1960.

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Common
Family photo of Greg Powaser on the rocking horse he received for his second birthday in 1960.

Powaser said, the rocking horse was always in the family’s living room until the children grew too big to use it. When she and her husband moved to Oakwood Common five years ago, their son Mike bought the couple’s Dearborn Heights home of 45 years.

It wasn’t until earlier this year when Mike and his family moved from Dearborn Heights to White Lake that the rocking horse was rediscovered in the attic, and he told his mom.

“We knew it needed to be restored so we could pass it on to another generation,” said Joan Powaser, who also has 12 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. “I never dreamed we’d find a neighbor at Oakwood Common who could bring the rocking horse back to life.”

Fortunately, she knew about the talents of her Oakwood Common neighbor Bob Rock, who does wood carving and woodworking in the community’s woodshop.

Rock, who has experience restoring antique carousel animals and other items, agreed to help. It was Mike who delivered the rocking horse in a bag full of pieces.

“I could tell from the craftsmanship that it had been a lovely rocking horse with a very interesting face,” Rock said. “It retained the original painting and art deco style of the 1930s.”

Rock estimates that it took 20 to 25 hours just to put the pieces back together. He said, “It was missing one rocker and the other was in bad shape. The legs had to be relocated, old screws replaced and new hand grips made.”

Rock then made two new birchwood rockers and cross bars, so that the horse rocks as smoothly as it once did years ago.

Almost fully restored, Powaser and her son Mike made a recent trip to the woodshop to check on the rocking horse’s progress.

“It was actually my first time to visit the woodshop,” she said. “I think people would be amazed to know how much we have available here at Oakwood Common.”

Once the rockers are painted with red like the original circus motif and new ears are crafted out of leather or felt, the rocking horse will be ready for its next young rider.

If the rocking horse doesn’t tell his story first, the Powasers are ready to surprise its original maker, Dr. Powaser’s brother Bob, who lives in Racine, Wis.

They promised, “It’s going to bring back lots of wonderful memories for all of us and create new ones for the next generation.”