By Paul Nowell 
AP Business Writer, South Coast Today, March 17, 1996 & Jan. 10, 2011

"Rocking Like Kennedy"

"To ease his chronically sore back, Kennedy used a rocking chair of red Appalachian oak purchased from the P&P Chair in 1955. It was the only piece of furniture he brought from his Senate office to the White House. Photos of Kennedy conducting business from his rocker were printed in newspapers and magazines around the world. P&P Chair's connection to Camelot could be the best-kept secret in the history of North Carolina's furniture industry.... The President actually had 12 rockers made by P&P....

Kennedy was a young Senator from Massachusetts in 1955 when he went to see Dr. Janet Travell for recurring back pain....  He had undergone spinal surgery the year before. During his first visit, Kennedy sat in the Southern porch rocker in Dr. Travell's office.... 
"According to the story, he told her he wanted that rocker," Mr. Page [head of the P&P Chair Company] said. "She said he couldn't have that one, but she knew where he could get his own."

It was Dr. Travell who named the chair the Carolina Rocker, Mr. Page said. "Before that we referred to them by a style number," he said. After Kennedy's death, the chair came to be known as the Kennedy Rocker. Kennedy so loved his rocker that his aides would bring it on Air Force One when he traveled around the country and the world. The President bought rockers for Camp David and the Kennedy estates in Palm Beach, Fla., and Hyannis Port, Mass. Kennedy also gave dozens of the chairs as gifts to friends and heads of state.

The sturdy and bulky chairs have been crafted since 1926 in the same P&P furniture factory that makes them today.  In Kennedy's time, the rockers cost about $35 apiece. Today they retail for about $190. P&P ships thousands of them to small furniture retailers around the country as well as to larger chains like Storehouse. The Carolina Rocker also is sold by L.L. Bean, which features them in its catalog. 

[Pelham Town Historian note:  The P&P Chair Company was purchased in 2008 by the Troutman Chair Company, which continues to make the "Kennedy Rocker" -- or as it might be more aptly named, the "Travell Rocker."

Arthur L. Scinta, Town Historian


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