During World War I, teenager Adolf Dassler became adept at repairing shoes in his parents’ home in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Adolf was his given name, but family and friends called him Adi. He scavenged the war-torn countryside for his supplies, and got his much-needed leather from belts, holsters and worn-out shoes. He took and modified abandoned machine parts and created a stationary bicycle-powered leather milling machine. Adi hired his first employee to pedal the bicycle so he could run the milling machine. Following World War I, Adi’s business grew as he experimented and developed stronger, but more lightweight shoes.

In 1923, Adi’s older brother, Rudolf, joined Adi in developing and manufacturing shoes. One year later, they formed Gebrüder Dassler, Sportschuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Factory). Their factory was the front room and, when not in use, the kitchen of their family home. By 1925, their shoe line included football boots which had nailed studs and track shoes with hand-forged spikes, all of which were still made in the family home. In 1927, the brothers sold enough shoes to allow them to move their operations from the cramped family home into a small factory.

A writer of history, Brad Dison earned his master’s degree in the subject from Louisiana Tech University. He has written four history books and has been published in newspapers and scholarly journals. Keep up with the column through the Facebook group “Remember This? by Brad Dison.” For more real stories about real people with a twist, listen to Brad Dison’s podcast “Remember This?” at http://www.BradDison.com. Dison’s book “Remember this?” is available for preorder on that site.

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