When you think of iconic symbols of the South, perhaps images of sweet tea, magnolia trees, and charming front porches come to mind. However, there's one quirky tradition that is deeply rooted in South Carolina's history and culture, and it's not something you'll find in any other region: the South Carolina Joggling Board. This long, springy bench has a history as rich and fascinating as the state itself.
My first memories of the joggling board were on visit to South Carolina historical home and plantations as a child near Charleston, SC. Later for my 10th anniversary my wife gifted me with a board hand made on Edisto Island. I even used it for time at our kitchen island as seating for our sons that would not sit still.
What is a Joggling Board?
A Joggling Board is essentially a long, narrow, and slightly curved wooden bench, usually about ten to twenty feet in length, supported by two sets of rockers at each end. The true magic of the Joggling Board is its flexibility. When someone sits or stands on it, the board gently "joggles," offering a soothing and rhythmic rocking motion. It's a bit like a giant, elongated rocking chair that can accommodate multiple people at once.
A Brief History
The exact origin of the Joggling Board is shrouded in mystery, but it is widely believed to have its roots in early 19th-century South Carolina. Some sources attribute its creation to John Dart, a farmer and carpenter from Summerville, South Carolina. He designed the first Joggling Board to help his rheumatic wife, who found comfort in the gentle rocking motion. Over time, the Joggling Board's popularity spread, and it became a staple of Southern porches, gardens, and meeting places.
A Versatile Tradition
The Joggling Board is not just a piece of furniture; it's a symbol of community, relaxation, and togetherness. Traditionally, it was often placed on large front porches or in gardens, providing a space for gatherings, conversations, and relaxation. Families would spend their evenings joggling together, sharing stories, and enjoying the gentle swaying motion that seems to ease worries and provide a sense of tranquility.
Joggling Board Lore
In South Carolina, Joggling Boards are not just functional pieces of furniture; they are also repositories of local lore and legends. It's said that if a young couple sits together on a Joggling Board, the gentle rocking will bring good luck to their relationship. Families often pass down Joggling Boards from generation to generation, creating a tangible link to their history and heritage.
The Joggling Board's popularity waned during the mid-20th century, but it experienced a resurgence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Many South Carolinians, as well as admirers from all over, have embraced the Joggling Board's charm and incorporated it into their own homes and gardens. You can now find Joggling Boards in various sizes and styles, some even adorned with intricate designs and colorful paint, making them both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Experience the Joy of Joggling
If you're ever in South Carolina or have the opportunity to visit a home where a Joggling Board resides, be sure to give it a try. The feeling of gently swaying back and forth, supported by the sturdy wooden structure, is both relaxing and rejuvenating. It's a unique way to connect with Southern culture and traditions, and it's something you won't find anywhere else.
The South Carolina Joggling Board is more than just a piece of furniture; it's a symbol of Southern hospitality, relaxation, and community. Steeped in history and tradition, it continues to be a beloved and unique feature of South Carolina's cultural landscape. So, next time you're in the Palmetto State, make sure to take a moment to joggle on one of these iconic benches and experience a piece of Southern charm and history that's as enduring as it is endearing.
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