Greetings and Salutaions lawn chair fans!
Goodness gracious its nearly summer already! Where has the time gone? But, summer is all about being outside and that’s kinda our deal don’t-ca-know! So, grab your favorite lawn chair, wipe out the bird droppings and tree sap and let me tell y’all a tale.
Back in about 1946 when WW II was coming to a close a gentleman by the name of Ed Warmack was thinking about what to do with his factory tucked back in the woods of Arkansas. He had been making all sorts of things for the Government to help with the war and now that it was peace time again he needed to return to domestic work. Mr. Ed knew about stamped porch chairs and how to make molds and tooling so he decided one of the first things he’d turn his attention to would include making his version of our beloved metal lawn chairs.
Ed made several contributions to the metal lawn chair industry. He designed the three piece frame with the slip in cross member. This let him pack more chairs into the rail cars he was shipping in from his plant there in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He also designed what we call the “tractor seat” which is the chair seat with the little channel in the back to allow rain water to drain away. Ed first used a flat seat with holes drilled in the middle to let the water drain but soon discoverd these holes didn’t hold paint too well and rust began quickly forming around them. The tractor seat designed solved his problem.
I meet Ed Warmack several years ago when he and his wife had made a gracious gift to a hospital in Little Rock doing research in extending ones life time by eating right. He didn’t know everything about lawn chairs I was wanting to learn but he knew everything about what he had done. He was a great source of period information and he had plenty of tales to allow about his time as one of the leading metal lawn chair manufacures in the US. Now this next part has been a little difficult for me to wrap my arms around but I’ve come to accpet it. Ed told me his daily production during building season for steel lawn chairs was up to 500 chairs PER HOUR! That is flat out turning and burning chair fans!
So, when you see an old metal chair like the ones we make in our Bellaire style, know that there was a fellow back in the hils of Arkansas in the late 1940s making them as fast as a donut shop makes donut holes! Ed sold his company in 1955 to two cousins that produced until 1970 when again the factory traded hands, selling to Flanders Industries which later became Lloyd Flanders. Flanders made steel lawn chairs until 1996, ending a 50 year run from the same factory with only 3 owners.
This and more tales and history is covered in my new book “The History of the Metal Lawn Chair….Here’s what we know now!”. Publishing is planned for later this summer so please check back for the announcement. If you have any history questions, please drop me a line.
Bye for now,