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December 5, 2019
 

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What did the Wilson football plant make before they made footballs only?

(Dave Devier, Ph.D., attended ONU and lived in and around the community for 45 years. He taught at Northern for 15 years. Currently, he is President of Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville, Mich. While in the Ada area, he and his wife Patty collected Ada/ONU memorabilia. He will write an occasional column for the Ada Icon describing some of their "finds" that pertain to the town and gown.)

By David Devier

This is my newest installment of the history of Ada via memorabilia. I have collected many items from the OK Manufacturing Company and the Sonnett Company over the last 30 years. It is so interesting when you learn of the history of the factory and how it ended up in Ada.

As the story goes, the plant owned by William Sonnett in Cincinnati was badly damaged in a flood in 1937 and a connection was made by the people of Ada to raise funds to fix up the empty plant on the east side of town to welcome Mr. Sonnett and the company to town in 1938. The rest is history as the connection resulted in the manufacturing company being in Ada ever since.

Mr. Sonnett and the next two generations of William Sonnett’s made history with many innovations in the production of inflatable balls and ball gloves.

While I have more than fifty different items of all types, I chose just a few here that show the variety of sporting goods the Ohio-Kentucky Manufacturing Company made and sold across the Midwest.

The first two are a set of four boxing gloves in their original box with a punching bag to use them on. One cannot help but wonder who used these and that they may have been used in a school setting back in the day My Dad always told me about the fights they held in gym class in the 30’s and 40’s. Perhaps later they were used to punch the bag.

I also selected a very nice softball catcher’s glove. It looks to not have been used very much as compared to the baseball glove I show that is so old and used it is totally unusable.

I have footballs and basketballs of course as well as sales catalogs and magazines ads.

I will submit another piece in the future showing other “OK” and even some “Sonnett” items from the days between 1938 and the total take over by the Wilson Sporting Goods who had purchased the company in 1954.

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