Rumley opened a tiny fireworks business south of Rising Fawn, Georgia on U.S. Highway 11.
It was in December and the weather was very cold and wet. The Power Company could not install electricity for several days, so they opened the store using lamp light.
Back in those days fireworks stands and chenille bedspreads were great attractions for tourists. So as you approached the little 10 x 20 building you would see lines of beautiful bedspreads and rugs hanging on each side with signs advertising fireworks. At that time fireworks were not legal in Tennessee and Alabama so Georgia was a hot spot, especially at Christmas, New Years and the Fourth of July. People would line up outside the door waiting for Bea to arrive with another load so they could get their displays for special occasions. She hauled them from Ringgold, Georgia, sometimes two trips a day in a station wagon. Bedspreads were picked up in Dalton, Georgia. That was a once a week trip. Remember the Big Peacock Spreads?
Soon the little business was booming and a warehouse had to be built for the stock. Merchants came from other states to buy wholesale & retail.
A bear was staked outside to draw tourist business. That brought on more business, so the animal park was started by adding all types of animals. Freak animals were a big attraction, such as Trixie, the five legged dog, Sambo, the talking bird and the six legged cow, plus too many more to mention.
Signs were advertised from the Tennessee and Alabama state line. It wouldn’t be unusual to see a bumper sticker on the back of a car in New York, Maine or Florida because those stickers were placed on cars from all over the country.
Children would enjoy stopping and seeing the animals, buying fireworks and coon skin caps, while their parents shopped for collector items like; state glasses & plates, salt & pepper shakers and other collectibles.
Everybody always liked to have an ice cold glass of apple or cherry cider, stand around the old gas heater and chat with all the local folks about what pretty country this was and how beautiful the mountains were; they seemed to enjoy traveling on U.S. Highway 11.
In 1970 the new Interstate 1-59 was build and the little yellow building closed its doors, but not for long.
In 1972 a new business opened on the Rumley Farm at exit #1 on I-59. This was a much larger store with gas, restaurant and gift shop. The family all had to work; each one had their jobs to do on a regular basis. Ralph had an assembly line set up. When stock came in each child opened boxes, priced and put souvenir stickers on each item. The last one could carry them in to mother for placing in the shelves. Years went by and all was well until 1979. Ralph became ill and died in April of that year. That was a bad time for the family, but they moved on.
Then in the 1980’s came high gas prices, high interest rates, and people weren’t traveling as much, so sales were dropping. Business wasn’t good! So Bea decided to change to a Truck Stop Business. She knew the trucks had to travel.
That was when the Game Park Truck Stop started, staying open 24 hours a day with Restaurant, Gift Shop and facilities for truckers.
Bea wrote letters and made many phone calls to Rand McNally and other map companies after she discovered that Rising Fawn was not listed on their maps. That brought results, and on their next printing, Rising Fawn was on the map. Truckers began advertising to other trucking companies and soon the truckers were rolling in.
Many high school boys and girls and lots of the older folks in Dade County were employees of the Rumley’s. Bea said her first employee worked for $2.00 a day; that was for pumping gasoline. Others worked for $15.00 a week. Gasoline prices in the 1950’s ran from 19.9 to 20.9 cents a gallon. Lots of gasoline wars went on back then between the oil companies.
Fawn GA 30738