As Melissa Bowerman reached deep into a cupboard for a blanket against the night chill, she discovered a box stuffed with mud-caked shoes and a rusty appliance.
She showed the things to her husband, Jon, and his brother, Tom, who had found them buried near the house in Coburg where their father, former Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman, lived for decades with his wife, Barbara.
Melissa said she could sell the things at auction — she had a good cause in mind — but the two men laughed.
“‘No one’s going to want those,’” Melissa recalled the men saying last spring.
Oh, how wrong they were.
Excitement from the discovery would ripple across the state, from the headquarters near Beaverton of the company Bill co-founded to the tiny town of Fossil hours away where he spent his childhood. In addition to shoes with treads handmade by Bill, Melissa had stumbled upon Nike’s Holy Grail: the long-lost waffle iron that inspired him to craft the revolutionary sole that launched an athletic empire.
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[Image: Courtesy of Nike]