Rocker bliss

Posted By on June 13, 2009

Lylah and I drove to Fredericksburg, an Ohio town so small it seems like nothing more than a string of houses between huge tracts of land, today to pick up a bentwood rocker from Marty Hershberger.

Marty’s Amish; his faith forbids him from having his picture taken, so I settled—happily—for a shot of one of his kids, Firman, in the rocker, a beauty made of cherry wood and oak and brass nails. Marty said Firman could pose because he wasn’t old enough to be a member of the church.

Firman tries my rocker on for size. His daddy Marty made the rocker.

Firman tries my rocker on for size. His daddy Marty made the rocker.

Marty made the rocker himself. I put a deposit on it April 2 and he called me this week to say it was ready. Marty’s a very fine wood worker who seems to do quite all right, thank you, with his Woodland Furniture, a small operation hard by the plain white house where he and his family live. His is a bucolic, private scene.
Lylah had never been to Wayne or Holmes County, a little more than an hour south of Cleveland; Wayne is where Schantz Organ is, Holmes where Marty lives. I’ve been visiting Schantz Organ on and off for the past few months, trying to help its head, Vic Schantz, publicize an upcoming series of concerts he’s sponsoring by the jazz organist Barbara Dennerlein and trying to decide whether to pursue a book idea that’s turning into an itch I have to scratch.

It would be a lot more work than “Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories,” but I’m leaning toward doing it. A university press has expressed preliminary interest.

My book would examine what keeps various family-owned Orrville businesses, like Schantz Organ and Smucker’s, going. It would also look into the prevailing Amish and Mennonite culture of the area and see how such non-Amish, non-Mennonite businesses as Schantz interact with the Amish and Mennonites.

I asked Marty whether he’d be willing to talk to me about this for my book; Vic was trying to coax him, too. Marty said he’d have to speak to his bishop about it and would get back to me. Marty doesn’t have a phone or electricity. His faith forbids it. If he lets me into his world, I’m going to pursue this. I look forward to his letter, or a phone call from a neighbor’s. I already love his work.


One Response to “Rocker bliss”

  1. Laura Monroe says:

    We met Marty and his family some 3 or 4 years ago strictly by accident. He has made quite a few pieces of furniture for us and the quality is outstanding. We highly recommend Woodland Furniture. We have met his in-laws, parents, brothers and think you can find no better people anywhere.

    Laura Monroe

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About the author

I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: