THE HISTORY THE CHAIR TODAY

In the trenches of France during World War I, W. C. Page Sr. and friend Arthur E. Presnell were brewing ideas of building chairs together.  In August of 1926, they realized their plans and the whistle blew for the first time in their new factory.  For twenty-two years they manufactured chairs together and then Mr. Page purchased Mr. Presnell’s share.

The P. & P. Chair Company always based in home and family values did business using common sense, hard work and great materials.  Their comfortable and handsome chair was a popular piece next to the American hearthside and business was good.  And then an interesting chain of events led business from good to great…and beyond.

In 1953, Dr. Janet Travell from New York purchased what she called her “Carolina Rocker” for her office.  Future events would press the company adopt this name and eventually stamped the trademarked “Carolina Rocker” on every chair.

A patient of Dr. Travell’s was a young senator from Massachusetts, suffering from chronic back trouble.  His comfort in the rocker coupled with her medical advice led to a deal being struck.  She would acquire another rocker for him if he would use it for therapy.  That Senator of course went on to become one of America’s most remembered presidents.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Photos of the President John F. Kennedy Jr. in his chair in the Oval Office began to appear.  Response from the media and the public was astounding.  The P. & P. phone rang constantly.  Newspapers, individuals, retail stores, world leaders, politicians all wanted to know more or to buy a “Kennedy Rocker”.  CBS arrived and filmed a spot interview with W. C. Page Jr. that aired on the national evening news.  LIFE Magazine sent a crew to shoot pictures, which appeared, along with a write up, in their publication of April 7, 1961.  Other national publications:  Time, Newsweek, and Popular Science featured the phenomenon.  Mail came in from all over the world:  songs, poems, pictures, praises and requests.  P&P did not yield to temptations of mass production of the chair and opted to remain small and family run.  Even so they managed to often make as many as 250 rockers a day.

The design, developed in the late 1920s, has a high cane back, cane seat and steam bent back posts that curve around the back.  It is set low for comfortable elbow support and has wide armrests for perfect balance.  Also, the arm rests are lower than similar rockers, allowing the sitter’s arm to relax naturally at the sides of the body. The rocker seat and back offer firmness and natural spring through the use of tightly woven Malaysian rattan.  Finally, the cane seat and back give firm, yet flexible support.  Dr. Travell had commented in the past that she liked the rocker chair because of the bent back post, which makes the came back fit, the contour of a person's back.  She also liked the Carolina Rocker because the armrests are not too high and the detachable seat gives more support.  Also the height of the seat is such that it creates no undue pressure on the user's legs.  The rocking motion is an aid to circulation and a reliever of tension.

So the “Carolina Rocker” also became known as the “Kennedy Rocker”.  Over time, JFK accumulated at least fourteen of the P. & P. chairs, one of which even resided on Air Force One.  His original Oval Office rocker is on permanent display at the JFK Library & Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.  Two others from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate were auctioned receiving $453,500 for one and $442,500 for the other.

Having realized a dream and seeing it grow to an American icon, W. C. Page Sr. was certainly pleased.  He had aspirations continue the tradition of offering the original style of the Kennedy Rocker to future generations.  He was very active in his business until his passing in1980 at the age of ninety-one.  His son W. C. Page Jr. and his grandson W. C. Page III carried on the business.

W. C. Page Jr.  began to entertain the idea of selling the family business, and with hopes to someone who could appreciate the significance of their chairs in quality and in history.  He began talks with Troutman Chair Company.  The two companies having so much in common that in February of 2009 the deal was done.  Troutman Chair, like P. &  P. Chair, is based in North Carolina, began in the early 1920’s, is family owned and has built quite a business of manufacturing excellent rockers and chairs.  Troutman Chair is very pleased to carry on the tradition of the “Kennedy Rocker” and now be associated with a chair that has received so much attention and kudos for comfort and therapeutic benefits.