Boxing gloves, a speed bag, an old catcher's mitt... are remnants of Ada's once O-K (Ohio-Kentucky) Manufacturing Plant. They proudly hang in Leland Crouse's home/de facto Ada Historical Museum - Ada Herald
Boxing gloves, a speed bag, an old catcher's mitt... are remnants of Ada's once O-K (Ohio-Kentucky) Manufacturing Plant. They proudly hang in Leland Crouse's home/de facto Ada Historical Museum. (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

ADA — It’s OK. No, it’s really OK.

Or rather, it was OK. In Ada, circa the first half of last century.

O-K Manufacturing, that is.

It didn’t start in Ada, though. The “K” part stands for Kentucky.

K, before it was O, too, was started by an immigrant’s son just outside of Canyton, Kentucky – in a barn.

William Sonnet, back then, had an idea. The idea turned into an invention. A lucrative invention!

He patented the small, rubber tube insert in a ball (football, basketball…) that a pump needle could fit into to inflate it.

This, in the sports world, would have been akin to, oh, I don’t know, maybe inventing the light bulb.

Sonnet did well.

And not only did he invent this, but he was manufacturing popular sports mitts, punching bags, sports balls, the whole thing.

And now for the “O” part…

He was doing so well that he moved his operation from the barn to a factory in Cincinnati on the Ohio River, according to O-K Manufacturing collector/dealer Brett Lawson.

Big mistake on that river thing!

In 1937, the Ohio River flooded. A LOT!

The factory was virtually destroyed because of the water damage and, it is said, some of Mr. Sonnet’s gloves, sports balls, (not sure about the punching bags), were found floating as far south as Louisiana. OK (pun intended), I didn’t fact check that last part, or anything.

Sonnett looked north, noted Lawson. He, eventually, decided on Ada, Ohio (Apparently because there were no rivers to speak of here.)

Leland Crouse, Ada’s de facto historian, noted that Sonnet bought the McCurdy Factory building that, at the time, was owned by ONU. The purchase was in 1938.

For the next 15 years, or so, Ohio-Kentucky Manufacturing produced soccer balls, boxing punching bags, gloves, catcher mitts, three finger and five finger mitts… according to an old Ada Herald article.

Mr. Crouse said that driving by the factory during those years, there was a distinct, wafting smell of quality leather being processed.

What’s more, during WWII, Lawson also noted that the company had a contract to make 3,000 pairs of “barbed wire gloves” for troops putting up temporary barricades, and such.

In December of 1954, the Wilson Sporting Goods Company bought O-K Manufacturing – and the rest is, well, gridiron history.