It's where Ada gets its news!
Ada Sports
December 13, 2019

You are here

An interesting footnote to Martin Luther King's visit to ONU

The untold story...until now

By Monty Siekerman
The untold story...until now.

In the past month, much was said and written about Martin Luther King’s visit to Ohio Northern 50 years ago, but here is an interesting, untold story about the time the Civil Rights leader spoke on campus.

Add this nugget of information to what you already know about The King Visit from the commemorative forum held on campus to the huge amount of press coverage about the icon’s speech here a half century ago:

Nancy Fleming worked at the Telephone Company office on North Main the day King gave his speech in Taft Gym. That day, she relates, none of the phones in town worked when King arrived on campus. No one could call in or out from Ada. However, she was able to get a few calls through by routing them from Ada to Lafayette, then to Lima.

When King was gone from Ada, the phones worked once more.

Not only that, but there was a law enforcement officer at the phone company the entire time Dr. King was present in Ada.

To this day, Nancy doesn’t know why all phones in Ada “went dead” for a period of time. Who shut them off and returned them to working order, remains a mystery. A coincidence? Or perhaps, it was a security measure because no bomb scares or threats could be phoned in. No one knows.

And, of course, cell phones and Facebook hadn’t been invented.

A half century ago ONU didn’t have a switchboard. The telephone office, where you dropped off your monthly payment and where the local exchange equipment was located, is now a Century Link building devoid of personnel.

The building, at 215 N. Main, used to be the phone company office and housed switching equipment. Today, the Century Link structure is not well kept even though it is in the heart of the downtown.

Photo: Former phone office in Ada, now used by Century Link.