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The Cadillac of Rocking Chairs

Life in Georgia after the Civil War was marked by chaos and poverty as the old way of life in the South had been destroyed. Marcellus Barksdale, a Morehouse College historian, notes the title of Margaret Mitchell’s book, Gone with the Wind describes what happened to the South as a result of the war. Returning Confederate soldiers traded one battle for another on returning home. It was the battle for survival. Phil Secrist, a member of the Georgia Civil War Commission, describes the fierce battles at Kennesaw Mountain where soldiers were buried where they fell. After the war, contractors were paid to retrieve bodies for proper burial at the rate of $25 per body. The battlefield was also covered with lead bullets that could be collected and sold for a penny a pound at the local hardware store. In Marietta, returning Confederate soldier, James Remley Brumby dreamed of a better future and started making flour barrels. When flour sacks replaced barrels, Brumby switched to manufacturing rocking chairs with the help of his brother Tom. The rockers are one of the oldest Georgia manufactured products still being made today. Betty Proctor Holbrook, workshop manager for Brumby Chair Company, knows customers can tell the difference as soon as they sit in a Brumby. The chair company grew to become Marietta’s largest employer. Chairs that once sold for $3 apiece now command more than $700. Brumby rockers are passed down through generations along with fond memories of sitting with loved ones and rocking. Dr. Barksdale paraphrases Charles Dickens saying it was the best of times and the worst of times after the Civil War. Most importantly, it was a time for renewal and hope for a better life.

Teacher tip: What does it mean to call a Brumby chair the “Cadillac of rocking chairs?” Describe why the Brumby Chair Company could be characterized as an entrepreneurial effort.