Monday, December 25, 2000

Etch A Sketch's departure shakes small Ohio town

The Associated Press

        BRYAN, Ohio — Ohio Art Co. has produced its last Etch A Sketch at the toy's original home.

        The company announced plans this month to move Etch A Sketch production to China after 40 years in this northwest Ohio community. The final Etch A Sketches to come from Bryan were made Friday, three days before Christmas.

        Workers at the plant on Toy Street clutched shopping bags filled with Etch A Sketches under their arms as they moved quickly to get out of the frigid weather and into cars, anxious to leave the memories behind.

        “It was a bad day, especially the last hour,” said a woman who declined to give her name.

        “I'm sorry to see them go to China,” said Phyllis Zolman, who said she was retiring after 45 years at Ohio Art.

        She hurried toward a waiting car. “My ride's here,” she said. “I've got to go.”

        More than 100 million Etch A Sketches have been sold worldwide since its invention in 1960 by Arthur Granjean of France.

        The toy lets youngsters scrawl artwork or messages, then erase with a quick shake.

        The classic Etch A Sketch is a red plastic box the size of standard-size piece of paper. But the toy now comes in all colors and shapes.

        Moving production affected about 30 workers in Bryan, but the loss is a symbolic blow to the city of 9,000 people 60 miles west of Toledo.

        The toy is such a fixture there that an oversized version is included in the holiday decorations on the town square.

        Nearly all of Ohio Art's other toys, such as the Betty Spaghetty doll and the pocket- and travel- size versions of Etch A Sketch, already are made in China.


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