My maternal grandfather died when I was a little over two years old. He worked for the telephone company his entire life and was about a month short of retiring when he had a heart attack and died. Every record I find puts him in the same small town in Southern Indiana on the Ohio River. He was a lineman for the telephone company and that is how Silver was discovered.
One day, in the mid-1940s, he was at a home attic to run the telephone lines. In the attic were tubs of empty alcohol bottles (maybe wine, the family story changed over time) and an old beat up, neglected rocking horse. He asked the woman of the house how much she wanted for the horse, knowing he could clean it up and it would make a wonderful Christmas surprise for his at the time, two children. She told him he could have it for free IF he also took all the bottles away. And he did.
He cleaned it up. Made it a new mane and tail out of unraveled twine. My grandmother helped make the saddle and the reins. A fresh coat of paint and he was perfect. My mother, pictured on Silver, rode and rode that horse. She would tell me that sometimes she would ride so fast the whole base would thump and that it sounded like actual horse hooves hitting the ground.
I met Silver when I was in elementary school. My grandmother had moved into town after his death as she did not drive. She, of packrat fame, lived in a large house with much storage. In the “guest room” was yards and yards of fabric, a bed you could sometimes find, two dressers and Silver. He was usually hiding under a half a quilt or extra sheets, but I would unearth him and then gently ride him (no womp thomping for me). I found his marble eyes especially fascinating.
In the late 1980s, my grandmother moved into a nursing home but she made sure I got to keep Silver. By then his mane was bedraggled and his tail missing. He needed more paint and a good cleaning. I worked on him, making his mane and tail from yarn this time and making him more a cream color than the original grey with subtle white spots. He then joined me on my many, many moves.
When my son came into the picture, he too rode Silver. For the longest time I had a three picture frame of each of us, my mom, me and him proudly riding our faithful steed. I don’t think, however, anyone loved Silver as much as my mom or rode him with such vigor and passion. Silver? Oh he is still around, having quite the nap in my attic.