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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Raincoat innovations from Mackinaw

In 1942 the Midwestern Manufacturing Co. (exciting and memorable name!) in Mackinaw, IL had been supplying rubberized raincoats to firemen and police in various places across the US for eleven years. In 1942 they received a government contract to make their coats for Ordnance factories throughout the midwest. The company already had exclusive contracts with the Illinois State Highway patrol and the Rhode Island Police and was the largest supplier of rubberized raincoats in the country. Their coats were used in New York City, the Panama Canal Zone, Scotland and China, just to name a few.

Irene Cochran, sewing raincoats.

Charles Powell, cutting rubberized fabric.

Bernice Denny, modeling a raincoat with the distinctive stripes.

The idea of an eye catching safety stripe on the coats originated with the Mackinaw firm, but was not yet made of reflective material -- each stripe was white or yellow. The company was run by G.W. Stowell and R.C. Kilby. Yet another unusual and obscure manufacturer in Central Illinois.

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