Marcus Harris is coming home — to cook chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and more.

You may have read my story last week that Harris, owner of Marques restaurant in downtown Canton, is planning to open a second eatery in Akron’s new East End development.

Today, we bring you some more details. Also, we have information on West Point Market, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization this spring, trimming its hours.

Also, we bring you the scoop — swirl? — on Dairy Queen owners in our area who are connected to the 100-plus-year-old Warther Cutlery company in Dover. The Dairy Queen operators are getting ready to open their third location — in Copley Township on Restaurant Hill off state Route 18.

And there’s more — including a reminder that the Taste of Ireland fest is this weekend at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron.

Let’s dive in. We’ll start with the Marques restaurant scheduled to open early next year in the East End, the mixed-use redevelopment of the former world headquarters campus of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The restaurant will locate in the historic Goodyear Hall, home of the music venue called Goodyear Theater.

Harris, the chef as well as the owner of the Marques in Canton, which specializes in southern food, said he has long wanted to run a place in Akron, his hometown.

“I love the location [on East Market Street at East End], plus it’s 15 minutes from my house,” Harris, 56, said earlier this week, after a lunch rush at his Canton Marques restaurant.

In Akron, Harris plans to attract lots of residents of East End’s 100-plus apartments, as well as employees at nearby businesses, guests at the development’s Hilton Garden Inn and those going to concerts at Goodyear Theater.

Plus, he said, he has many Akron-area customers who will find it more convenient to drive to East End than to Canton.

Harris said he’d been looking for a place in the Akron area, and didn’t want to land in Fairlawn or the Montrose retail area. “Too saturated” with places to eat, he said.

Sam DeShazior, Akron’s deputy mayor for economic development, told him about available space at East End, and some months later Harris signed a lease.

“The potential and opportunity is there,” he said. “To be in on the ground floor, that’s where the excitement is.”

Harris said he initially was unsure of locating in East End.

“I’m a westsider [living in Northwest Akron],” Harris explained.

“But after I did the tour, the bug hit me [about the new development]. They’re trying to do make the East End an entity by itself,” providing services to businesses, as well as the apartment dwellers.

Harris had earlier in the day made four big pans of macaroni and cheese and was preparing to make his eatery’s signature dessert, sweet potato bars (sort of like sweet potato pie and with a secret recipe crust).

He opened the Canton Marques in 2015 in space at 111 Cleveland Ave. SW that had seen quite a few eateries come and go.

He’s drawn a following with his southern fare he said is influenced by Creole and Cajun eats.

He’s planning to offer all the items on the Canton menu. Customer favorite entrees include jambalaya, shrimp and grits, blackened fish, and blackened chicken and chicken and waffles.

The Akron location will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as the Canton site does, he said.

East End owner Industrial Realty Group of Los Angeles revealed last week that Harris had signed a lease and that the development had landed two other new commercial tenants: Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt and Starbucks.

The Starbucks and Handel’s, meanwhile, will be in a three-tenant strip center that will be built by IRG at East Market and Cook streets, adjacent to Goodyear Hall and the Hilton Garden Inn.

Construction is to begin this week, and the center is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019.

Leonard Fisher is the franchise owner of the planned East End Handel’s. The regional ice cream chain is based in Canfield, outside Youngstown. The Starbucks will be operated by AVI Food Systems Inc. of Warren.

Bob Ovesny, a vice president with IRG Realty Advisors, the property management arm of East End’s owners, told me he’s been busy marketing the space in the former bank space in Goodyear Hall to local restaurateurs as well as those involved with regional chains. He’s shown the space to potential users, but no one has yet signed a lease.

The East End apartments are more than 90 percent occupied, he said.

Earlier this month, husband and wife Chris and Stephanie Surak said they plan to open Eighty-Three Brewery, a production brewery, tasting room and eatery at East End, also at Goodyear Hall.

These businesses are not the first retail tenants at East End, as I said last week, but they are the first food/beverage spots to be announced. LaBelle’s Barber Parlor, offering hot towel shaves, opened more than six months ago at Goodyear Hall.

Store hours

Beginning this past Monday, West Point Market in Fairlawn is open five days a week, instead of seven.

Also, Killer Brownies are back.

New new hours for the family-owned specialty grocery at 33 Shiawassee Ave. in Fairlawn will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The store — and its Beside the Point wine/craft beer bar at one end of the building — will be closed Sunday and Monday.

And West Point owner Rick Vernon reminded me this week that West Point’s signature Killer Brownies are back with the completion of the grocery’s highly anticipated onsite bakery.

The Original Killer Brownies are available for purchase in four varieties; original, no-nut, peanut butter and raspberry.

In filing for Chapter 11 reorganization in May, West Point cited financial problems exacerbated by delays in opening a critically needed in-store bakery.

By being open five days a week, store employees will have more time to prepare the foods and stock the store, West Point said in an email to customers and a post on its Facebook site. The grocery Point generates a significant amount of revenue from prepared foods.

On Tuesdays, Brownie Points card holders will get 10 percent off the purchase of freshly made items.

In May, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Russ Kendig in Canton approved West Point Market’s motions seeking orders that are allowing the business to stay open.

Those rulings included allowing the supermarket to continue paying wages and benefits to employees; using its bank accounts; using cash collateral; and operating customer programs.

The judge also approved a motion prohibiting utilities from cutting off services.

West Point Market closed in 2015 at its longtime Akron Wallhaven neighborhood location and reopened in late 2016 at the Fairlawn site.

West Point’s phone is 330-864-2151.

Ice cream treat

Kurt and Karl Warther, whose great-grandfather started Warther Cutlery in Dover, are going a different direction.

After working at the family business, they struck out on their own several years ago and together with a partner took over the Dairy Queen site at 715 Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls.

Then in 2015, the Warthers and their partner, Karl’s brother-in-law, Aaron Haller, took over the Dairy Queen at 3645 Fishcreek Road in Stow.

Now, the three plan to open a Dairy Queen at the Montrose site of the former Burger King on Restaurant Hill, home of the Outback Steakhouse, motels and other eateries. They hope to begin serving ice cream and other treats, along with savory items in late September or early October.

Kurt Warther, 30, said he’s been a Dairy Queen fan since he was growing up in Dover, where there was a shop. It later moved to a nearby town.

His favorite sweet DQ treat is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard.

Confession time: While traveling, I have been known to skip a highway exit, even though nature is calling, in favor of an exit with a Dairy Queen for a chocolate soft serve cone and a chili cheese dog.

Irish celebration

A Taste of Ireland will run Friday and Saturday at Lock 3 Park off South Main Street in downtown Akron.
It’s the first time area Hibernian clubs have teamed up to celebrate the motherland at the city-owned venue. Gates open at 6 p.m. Friday and at noon Saturday.

Serving Irish eats, including shepherd’s pie, will be Stray Dog Carts & Condiments and Fresche Catering. Spinelli’s menu will include onion rings and mozzarella sticks.

Jameson Irish Whiskey tastings will be available both days, along with language lessons, hurling demonstrations and history displays. Cigars will be available for sale. If you want to smoke ’em at the fest you’ll need to go to a designated area. Irish goods also will be sold. UPDATE Wednesday – Aug. 15 – a.m.: I just heard from a member of the festival’s organizing committee that there won’t be any cigars as the cigar vendor backed out at the last minute due to “family/staffing issues.”

Additionally, there is a website with the event’s complete schedule at The Akron Children’s Museum at Lock 3 will provide free children’s activities from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. And here’s the beer lineup: Guinness, Harp, Irish Setter Red (made by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron) and Miller products.

Music on Friday will include Desire: The International U2 Tribute Act. Entertainment on Saturday will include local Irish musicians (1 p.m. at Lock 3) and the MacConmara Irish Dance troupe (2 p.m. at Lock 4).

Admission is free. You pay for food and children’s inflatables. More information is at

Subs for a year

Ohio-based Original Steaks & Hoagies will give away free cheesesteaks for a year to the first 50 people in line when it opens its new location in Jackson Township at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

The restaurant at 4460 Belden Village St. NW serves authentic Philly cheesesteaks and Italian specialty sandwiches.

Local co-owner is Jeff Wiseman.

Spaghetti dinner

Eat Italian at the Polish American Citizens Club of Akron from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Polish spaghetti dinner will feature spaghetti, meatballs, bread, salad, dessert and coffee or tea. Cost is $9 for adults and $4 for children. Tickets will be available at the door. Call 330-253-0496. The club is at 472 E. Glenwood Ave. in Akron (entrance on Dan Street).

Calendar check

Oktoberfest news … yeah, Oktoberfest is celebrated in September.

• Members of the German Family Society in Brimfield Township already have been cooking and freezing eats for the organization’s annual Oktoberfest Sept. 7-9.

German fare such as schnitzel, cabbage rolls, rotisserie chicken German franks, hot pretzels, corn on the cob will be on the menu at the festival on the grounds of the German Family Society in Brimfield Township. The society’s complex is at 3871 Ranfield Road in Brimfield Township, south of Interstate 76.

Beer, dancing and polka bands also are stars. An outdoor Biergarten and a Jäger tent (featuring the German liqueur) will be available for adults. Attractions and games for children will be offered Sunday, though each day is billed as family-friendly. The Kuchen Haus (cake house) will be stocked with German pastries.

Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Sept. 7, 3 to 11 p.m. Sept. 8, and noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 9, when there will be activities for children. Admission is $5, ages 12 or younger free. Call 330-678-8229 or go to

• The Ido Bar & Grill’s Oktoberfest menu will run Sept. 17 through Oct. 6.

The Ido is at 1537 S. Main St. at Ido Avenue. Call 330-773-1724 or go to

Homegrown festival

Ohio-produced arts, crafts and food will be showcased at Hale Farm & Village in Bath at the Made in Ohio Arts & Crafts Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 31 (a Friday) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 1 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 2.

The $5 admission fee includes one day admission to the art festival as well as the grounds, buildings and period craft demonstrations at Hale Farm & Village, a collection of historic structures in Bath Township that helps visitors experience what life was like in Northeast Ohio in the 19th century. (Regular admission to Hale Farm is $10.)

Hale Farm & Village is at 2686 Oak Hill Road.

For information on the festival, go to


• Papa Joe’s, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road, in the Merriman Valley will host a five-course Burgess Wine Dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday. Steve Burgess will be on hand; his father, the late Tom Burgess, a native of Cuyahoga Falls, launched Burgess Cellars in Napa Valley in 1972. Reds and one white will be featured. Cost is $95. Call 330-923-7999 for reservations.

• The Akron Zoo’s second annual “Wild for Wine” tasting will run 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25 with local wines and appetizers.

Cost is $45 for zoo members and $50 for nonmembers. Designated drivers are $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. The zoo will be open and the event will go on rain or shine. Visit or call 330-375-2550, ext. 7230, for tickets. This event sold out last year

Here’s the wineries who have signed up so far: Winery at Wolf Creek (Copley Township), Troutman Vineyards (outside Wooster), Gervasi Vineyard (Canton), Filia Cellars (outside Wadsworth), Naughty Vine (Green); Barrel Run Crossing Winery & Vineyard (Rootstown Township); and Hi & Low Winery in Sharon Township.

• 35° Brix, 3875 Massillon Road, Green, will offer a six-course bourbon dinner at 7 p.m. Aug. 23.

The dinner will feature six “hard to come by bourbon pours,” paired with food. Cost is $79. Call 330-899-9200 for reservations. See the 35° Brix Facebook page for a listing of the bourbons.

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or [email protected].

America beckoned from across the sea, a promised land of hope and opportunity. In the early 20th century, Theodoros Sardelis, 16, emigrated from Greece to the United States in search of a better life.

He left Antwerp, Belgium, aboard the ocean liner S.S. Kroonland and arrived at Ellis Island on April 9, 1903. How exciting it must have been for the young man to see the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor after the long voyage across the Atlantic.

“He came to this country with $12 in his pocket,” said his daughter, Chris Matheos, 84, a Fairlawn resident who grew up listening to her father’s stories of life in America.

Sardelis cleared inspection at Ellis Island, one of more than 12 million immigrants to pass through the U.S. gateway, and was met in New York by an uncle who took him to Chicago. In his new country, Sardelis adopted a shorter, Americanized name: Theodore Dallas.

The boy had learned to write and speak English in Greece, so he already was ahead of many newcomers. He labored for several years, mostly kitchen work in hotels and restaurants, before landing a summer job in 1913 at Cedar Point in Sandusky.

His dormitory roommate was an athletic, Norwegian-born kid from Chicago with a funny-sounding name. Knute Rockne played quarterback at Notre Dame.

“They were both lifeguards and became very good friends,” Matheos said.

They soaked up some sun and kept the beaches safe. In addition to sparring with his buddy Ted Dallas in boxing matches, Rockne perfected the forward pass on the beach with Fighting Irish teammate Gus Dorais, another lifeguard.

When the tourist season ended, Rockne returned to Notre Dame and Dallas moved to Akron, a boomtown of rubber factories.

“He was all alone in Akron,” Matheos said. “Never had any relatives here.”

Like many Greek immigrants, Dallas found steady employment in the restaurant business. When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, though, he enlisted in the Army and returned to Europe to fight for his adopted land.

He wasn’t born in America, but he had no qualms defending it.

“He loved the United States,” Matheos said. “He loved everything about it.”

At the war’s end, Dallas returned to Akron and opened the Saratoga Restaurant at 1166 S. Main St. near Ira Avenue. The busy lunch counter catered to rubber workers at the nearby Fire­stone and Miller rubber factories.

One of the regular customers in 1919 was a jug-eared fellow who worked as a clerk at the Fire­stone Steel Products rim plant at Miller and Sweitzer avenues.

“He came in every morning for breakfast,” Matheos said.

Dallas remembered the customer as “a nice-looking guy,” but was dumbfounded years later when he saw him on movie screens. Clark Gable, that young diner at the Saratoga Restaurant, made it big in Hollywood.

“I used to love to hear the stories from my dad,” Matheos said.

Dallas was a successful businessman but a lonely fellow. Through an acquaintance in Boston, he struck up a correspondence with Titika Manzer, a dressmaker and Greek immigrant who lived in Lynn, Mass. They got to know each other through letters. She came to visit him in Akron, and that was that.

They were married by 1920, and welcomed four children: sons Peter, Mario and Thesef (better known as Sef) and daughter Chris.

“I had three older brothers,” Matheos said. “I’m the youngest one and the only one living.”

Dallas operated the Saratoga for about a decade. He later owned the Maderite Pie Baking Co. on Ira Avenue, Blue Ribbon Baking Co. on South Broadway and served as chef at the Step Inn Cafe on West Exchange Street.

He also worked alongside some locally famous restaurateurs, including Nick Anthe at the Garden Grill and Nick Yanko at the Bubble Bar Cafe.

“He knew everybody in the food business,” Matheos said.

Dallas was hit hard by the Great Depression, and he had to find any job he could. Matheos recalls one Christmas when the family was living on Jefferson Avenue and she was about 4 years old.

“When I came down to the Christmas tree, there was a coloring book and crayons underneath,” she said. “And that was my Christmas present. I remember my parents feeling really bad.”

She also recalls when her friends at Buchtel High School were enrolling in the University of Akron, and she asked her father if she could go, too.

“I would love to send you, but I can’t afford it,” Dallas sadly told his daughter.

The family patriarch took a job as a clerk at the state liquor store about 1950 and retired a decade later as assistant manager. All the while, he continued to help out in Akron kitchens and kept busy with various organizations.

Matheos believes her father was the first Greek in Akron to become a 32nd Degree Mason. He was elected president of the Akron chapter of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), co-founded and commanded Akron Hellenic Post 687 of the American Legion and served as a trustee for Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

“Oh, he was a wonderful man,” Matheos said. “Very, very well liked. He knew everybody. Always very helpful.”

He instilled in his children a love for their country. Matheos, who worked for 25 years at Longaberger Basket Co. and was one of the first eight consultants with the Ohio company, decorates her Fairlawn home in red, white and blue.

“He was very patriotic, that’s for sure,” she said.

Theodore Dallas was 77 when he died in 1964. His wife, Titika, passed away in 1973. They are buried at Mount Peace Cemetery in Akron, two Greek immigrants in the country that they loved dearly.

Fewer and fewer people are alive today who remember the couple. Dallas told his life stories to his daughter, and she continues to share them.

“So many people probably have wonderful stories but they didn’t hang onto them like I did.

“When I tell people the stories about my dad, they can’t get over it.”

Mark J. Price can be reached at 330-996-3850 or [email protected].

There have been a few calls into the Extension office in the past week regarding poorly performing cucumbers and squash. Cucurbits include cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, cantaloupe, squash and gourds. There are many reasons that cucurbits will not do well, which can be disease- or insect-related, or due to a physiological issue.

• Poor fruit set due to poor pollination

Most cucurbits produce both male and female flowers. The males flower first to attract pollinators. Older varieties often produce many more male flowers than female, and environmental stressors can cause a higher percentage of male flowers to develop. The flower has to be visited by a pollinator eight to 20 times for successful pollination.

Overhead watering or excessive rain during the day can disrupt pollinators. High heat can also decrease pollen viability. If you use a row cover to protect the plant from insects, it creates a barrier and pollinators are unable to get to the flowers to do the work.

There isn’t much that can be done about the weather, but encouraging pollinators, not using products that can affect bees at the wrong time, and ensuring that row covers are removed once the plants are flowering can help.

• Lack of flowering

Excessive nitrogen can stimulate vegetative (or green) growth rather than reproductive (flowers) growth. Fertilizer application should be based on a soil test and only the recommended rate, whether organic or inorganic, should be used.

Insect pests of cucurbits can be highly damaging. Some of the most problematic in our area are:

• Squash vine borer

Squash vine borers overwinter as pupae in the soil and emerge in the spring as adults. The adults are ½-inch long with orange abdomens with black dots. The first set of wings are metallic and the second set are clear.

The female will lay single, reddish disc-shaped eggs in June and early July on the base of the stem. The larvae hatch in approximately 10 days and immediately begin to bore into and chew their way up the stem. The larvae will feed for three to four weeks, then leave the plant to pupate in the soil over the winter.

Damaged plants wilt in the daytime and will not die immediately because the borer needs the plant to protect it. Besides wilt, signs of the borer include entry holes near the base of the stem of the plant as well as frass being pushed out of the hole.

Look for the eggs and remove them before they hatch. Once the larvae have entered the stem, pesticides are not effective. If entry holes and frass are noted, use a small knife to cut up the stem and carefully gouge the insect out. At the end of the season, either completely remove plant debris or cultivate plant residue into the soil.

There is only one generation per year, so sometimes this insect can be avoided by planting late in the season.

• Cucumber beetle: Striped and spotted

There are two types of cucumber beetles that feast on cucurbits; striped and spotted. Both are yellowish and about ¼-inch long. Damage from this beetle occurs by root and foliar feeding.

The insects also harbor bacterial wilt which can be transmitted during feeding. The plant will appear to wilt and no amount of watering will cause it to perk up. If a cucurbit is infected with bacterial wilt, the plant will not recover and should be removed.

Beetles can be managed by handpicking and using row covers (covers do need to be removed once the cucumbers start to flower). There are many products available to the homeowner for cucumber beetle control. Follow the label instructions.

• Squash bugs

There has been significant squash bug activity this season. These hard-shelled brownish-gray insects overwinter as adults in sheltered places and will emerge in the spring to mate. The females will lay hard-covered, copper-colored eggs in a symmetrical pattern on the underside of squash and pumpkin leaves. The nymphs hatch and eventually morph into adults. The generations overlap and eggs, nymphs, and adults can sometimes be found on the same plants.

The most critical feeding time is early in the season. Scouting for and removing eggs at least once a week can help keep populations low later in the season. Because mulch can create a hiding place for squash bugs, do not place mulch in the area of the stem.

Disease issues can also affect cucurbit growth. Commonly seen diseases in this area are downy mildew and powdery mildew.

• Downy mildew

There are two strains of downy mildew that affect cucurbits. The first most likely overwinters in greenhouses in Michigan and Ontario and the spores are dispersed in the spring and travel by wind. This strain tends to be more problematic in cucumbers and usually arrives in this region in early July.

The second strain overwinters in the South, then travels north, and tends to affect pumpkins and squash. The second strain arrives later in the season than the first and isn’t usually problematic in this area.

Symptoms include yellow spots that develop on the upper side of the leaf and gray or black fuzz under the leaf. Downy mildew tends to develop under cool, cloudy, and rainy conditions.

Since hot, dry weather has been the norm for most of Ohio, this disease has not yet been reported in the state this season. However, home gardeners should be on the lookout.

Some strategies are to plant early and get as many cucumbers as possible before the disease makes its way to the area, water in the morning, and avoid watering in the evening to prevent extended wet foliage. There are a few disease resistant varieties on the market such as ‘Marketmore.’

• Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew has recently been positively diagnosed on cucurbits in Ohio. This is a little bit later than usual. The spores of powdery mildew that affects cucurbits cannot overwinter in Ohio and travel on wind currents. Infection is inhibited by “free water” such as rain. While high humidity is helpful to spore germination it is not needed, but once infection has occurred the disease will progress faster under humid conditions.

The initial symptoms are small powdery growths on both the upper and lower sides of the leaves which eventually spread to cover the entire leaf, giving it a powdery-like appearance. Lower leaves are often the first infected. Some cultivars of cucurbits have a natural white pattern on the leaves that some misidentify as powdery mildew.

The most important management tools are using disease resistant varieties and proper spacing. Disease resistance is usually indicated on the seed packet or catalog description, as is recommended spacing.

For more information, see and

Master Gardener class

Become an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer! The Summit County Extension office is now accepting applications for the Fall 2018 Basic Training Class. For information, visit

Jacqueline Kowalski is the Summit County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator for the Ohio State University. For questions on local foods, food production or other garden-related questions, contact her at [email protected] or 330-928-4769 ext. 2456. Call the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Hotline from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays at 330-928-4769, option 3 or extension 2481 or 2482.

The wedding of our friends Michael and Jessica, celebrated 10 years ago this week, was an event that brought together more than just two people.

For weeks, people prepared the farmhouse of Jessica’s grandmother. In the backyard, the couple were wed by Michael’s father on a platform built by Jessica’s father, covered with an awning sewn by Michael’s mother. The flowers were a year in the making — chosen varieties grown in the gardens of several friends filled dozens of vases.

Jessica’s father gave the first toast, saying everything an adult child wants to hear from a parent. Unbelievably touching then, it became more poignant when he died less than two years later from an aggressive brain tumor.

And when the day gave way to a moonless night, everyone gathered around what looked like a derelict gazebo. Easily 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide, boards of all shapes and sizes created a pattern reminiscent of webs built by drugged spiders. Built by Jessica’s firebug uncle as his gift, he ignited the structure. The celebratory pyre was tremendous, if not a little scary.

Several hours after we’d arrived, my boys, Max and I all sang Strawberry Fields Forever as we walked under the starlit sky to our car, parked a few blocks down the street.

That magical day seemed a nod from the universe. For that’s when my boys first met Max.

While we had long been friends, a year after I became newly single, Max and I discovered among all the things we shared in common was a budding crush. It was March when he first kissed me, kindling something I thought unavailable to 40-somethings.

Five months later, when Max accompanied us to the wedding, I told the boys he was an old friend. We left it at that during the following months even as Max came to our house for dinners and invited us all to movies.

“What would you think if I started dating?” I asked the boys over dinner one evening in October.

“Oh, no! No, no, no!” said 11-year-old Hugo.

“What if I told you I already am?”

“What? Who?” asked Hugo, bolting up from his seat at the table.

“I know,” said 8-year-old Jules with a sly smile. My quiet boy has always been a great observer (though not so good at remembering names). “The guy with the glasses.”

The next time Max came for dinner, Hugo walked up to him and said, “So, I hear you’re dating my mom. Can I have 20 bucks?” Max politely declined.

At the time, I was taking night courses for my master’s degree. Before long, Max began driving to my house after work to cook dinner and stay with the boys until I returned. The first night, I did not leave instructions with Max, for Claude was 14 and the boys knew the rules.

Silly me, they hoodwinked Max. When I walked in the door at 10 p.m., nobody was ready for bed, all the dishes were dirty and homework was still spread across the dining room table.

That was the first time Max saw me angry with my children.

In the following 10 years, those little boys grew into men and a lifelong bachelor became a seasoned father. In the process, we’ve learned how to accommodate our habits and personalities, sometimes changing along the way.

For instance, Max and I do dishes differently. Before putting anything in the sink of hot soapy water, I rinse off all the muck. Max tosses everything as is into the hot soapy water. The boys do dishes my way. Many times, too many they say, Max tosses a sauce-coated serving spoon or a greasy pan into their wash water. They howl, he apologizes but can’t seem to completely break the habit.

Living together also means polite pretense vanishes. If I am mad at someone, I say so, at times with more diplomacy than others. Oddly enough for an attorney, Max avoids conflict. For years, when something bothered him, he quietly, but obviously, fumed. It drove the boys crazy and they’d call me and say, “Mama, Max is doing that thing.”

Going from zero to five kids in four years, Max soon learned all emotions are valid, even the messy ones. He now tells the boys when he’s upset with them, keeping me happily out of the middle. I’ve had to work on that, too. Raising children with someone who isn’t their biological parent elicits in me what I think is an evolutionary response to protect those genetic packets called children.

I can complain about my children’s behavior, their attitudes and when they disappoint me. I might even yell in their faces (not often and, really, just Hugo). But when Max corrects the boys, my first impulse is to defend them, whether they merit a defense or not. Even now.

Sons of single mothers do not need a man in their lives to show them how to be successful adults. Women are adults who can do that. And I did. But my relationship with Max has modeled something invaluable — that a man can love and support a strong woman without needing to control her. And even the best relationships require work and compromise.

Like our friends Michael and Jessica, Max and I came together not as two individuals, but as two larger families. Because of their ages when they met him, each son has a different relationship with Max. Unlike his brothers, Jules has few memories of life before Max. All three frequently tell Max how glad they are to have him in their lives.

And it all started at a rollicking wedding at a farmhouse.

Contact Holly Christensen at [email protected].

Eat your vegetables!

In Bhutan, that could very well be an admonishment to eat hot peppers.

But the country, as a whole, needs no coaxing. The Bhutanese love their peppers, and for many, the hotter the better.

So what better way to celebrate the area’s Bhutanese community than with a hot pepper fest, thought Tom Crain and Bhakta Rizal, both of Akron. Rizal is originally from Bhutan and emigrated in the late 1990s from Nepal, where he was living in a refugee camp.

The Hot Summer Celebration will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Patterson Park Community Center in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. The event will feature appetizers from Everest Nepali and Indian Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls, a pepper-eating contest and hottest pepper competition.

Have no fear, those of you not in love with hot peppers: The food will be on the milder side unless you choose to spice it up.

“Back in our country, every meal has peppers,” Rizal said last week as he stood in a garden off East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron planted with squash, okra, corn, other veggies and of course peppers. Lots of peppers, including cayenne, Anaheim and Naga Viper (a hot, hot pepper grown from seeds brought here by another immigrant).

Admission to the festival is free. You pay a suggested $20 donation to eat and participate in activities, including the pepper-eating or hottest-pepper contest.

Get tickets at or at the door. Patterson Park is at 800 Patterson Ave., north of East Tallmadge Avenue. Proceeds go to the nonprofit Shanti Community Farms, which Rizal and Crain founded last year.

Important vegetable

Last week, Rizal showed off rows and rows of pepper plants in the garden, operated by Shanti, and noted, “In Bhutan, if you don’t have a pepper, that meal is incomplete,” Rizal said.

“Peppers are a main vegetable” in Bhutan, Crain said, “kind of like tomatoes are to us.”

Rizal added, “Bhutan is very, very cold [in the winter]. It’s at the foothills of the Himalayas. So that’s why people like hot peppers. They create heat [in the body].”

Chili peppers originated in South America and likely first were introduced in India hundreds of years ago, and then Bhutan, Rizal said.

The fest also will include a bamboo splitting contest and dart throwing, included in the $20 donation.

Dart-throwing is big at gatherings in Bhutan. (You can check out videos on YouTube.) On Friday, the target will be a snake gourd grown in the Shanti garden.

All of the peppers used in Friday’s food preparation will come from the garden. Dishes will include chicken curry with mild peppers; beans mixed with potatoes, cauliflower and mild peppers; and momo (Nepali dumplings) with mild, medium and hot sauces.

Attendees can tour the half-acre garden, planted on an empty lot that Rizal bought from the Summit County Land Bank. It’s near the International Institute, which serves the local refugee population, including many Bhutanese.

Shanti Community Farms is a way for Bhutanese who have settled in Akron to participate in community gardening, staying connected to their agrarian culture, Crain and Rizal explained.

Vegetables are sold at a farmers market. Earlier this summer, Rizal and Crain, with a grant from Akron Community Foundation, operated a summer camp in which children received tutoring and then visited the garden for more learning.

In addition to being a fundraiser for Shanti (“peace” in Nepali and Hindi), the fest is designed to bring awareness to the local Bhutanese population. Many came here through the federal refugee resettlement program after living for years in camps in Nepal.

Growing population

From 2007 to 2017, about 2,700 refugees from Bhutan came to Akron. Others who had settled elsewhere moved to Akron to be near family and friends. Crain estimates that as many as 6,000 Bhutanese live in the Akron area, many in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.

Rizal, 46, was in his 20s when he moved from a refugee camp in Nepal to California to attend a teaching program. He later sought asylum and lived in Seattle, where he operated group homes, before moving to Akron in 2014 to be near family. Today he tutors at an area school.

Rizal met Crain at a Cuyahoga Falls Bhutanese festival. Crain is a lover of Asian cultures, having traveled to the continent frequently in his previous career in public relations.

Attendees to the festival can check out the bamboo fence that fronts the garden on Tallmadge Avenue, built by Bhutanese men. Crain and Rizal would like to involve the men in other bamboo-building projects in the area.

Rizal said some older Bhutanese men become depressed when they can’t pick up the language well enough to hold factory or warehouse jobs. Gardening and bamboo-building are outlets for them.

For information about Shanti Community Farms, go to The organization will host a soccer tournament Aug. 25-26 at Cascade Valley Metro Park in Akron. It will draw local Bhutanese as well as those from outside the area. Information will be available on the website.

More food trucks

Akron Child Guidance & Family Solutions continues its Wednesday food truck rallies in the parking lot at North Forge and East Market in downtown Akron.

This week, organizers will celebrate six years of the lunches with “Still Trucking” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be pop-up shops and live music along with the trucks A Movable Feast, Slop Truck, Sassy Dogs and Nom Nom Popcorn & Cupcakes.

The rallies, featuring a handful of trucks each week, began on Fridays in 2013 and moved to Wednesdays this year.

Wednesday’s event will mark the debut of A Movable Feast, a new venture of Shawn Sweeney, Mark Williams and Angela Kukla. The menu will feature Hawaiian poke bowls (deconstructed sushi of sorts), street corn, brisket and more.

Admission is free. You pay for food. The Wednesday rallies run through Sept. 5.

Child Guidance also hosts its ninth annual Growing Up Akron casual fundraising event from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Thirsty Dog’s brewery, 529 Grant St., Akron.

The fundraiser features beers, music by Roxxymoron and food from local favorites such as Swensons, Diamond Deli, Hartville Potato Chips, Mary Coyle Ice Cream, Tiffany’s Bakery, DiFeo’s Catering, Gino’s Pizza, Norka soda and the Pierogi Lady.

Earlier this year, Thirsty Dog opened a taproom, at 587 Grant St., a few doors down; Growing Up Akron will be in the brewery.

Tickets start at $60 at Child Guidance & Family Solutions helps children and families with mental, emotional and behavioral health problems.

Taste of Ireland

The Irish are coming to Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron.

A Taste of Ireland will run Aug. 17-18 at the park off South Main Street. It’s the first time area Hibernian clubs have teamed up to celebrate the motherland at the city-owned venue. Gates open at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 and at noon Aug. 18.

Food vendors will be Stray Dog Carts & Condiments, Spinelli’s catering and Fresche Catering, all of Akron.

Stray Dog will serve shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage. Fresche will also offer shepherd’s pie, plus Irish mac and cheese. Spinelli’s menu will include onion rings and mozzarella sticks.

Jameson Irish Whiskey tastings will be available both days, along with language lessons, hurling demonstrations and history displays. Apparently cigars go with Jameson, so an area will be designated for cigars, which will be available for sale, along with Irish goods.

Music on Friday will include the International U2 Tribute Act. Entertainment on Saturday will include local Irish musicians (1 p.m. at Lock 3) and the MacConmara Irish Dance troupe (2 p.m. at Lock 4).

Admission is free. You pay for food and children’s inflatables. More information is at

Coffee contest

Muggswigz Coffee and Tea Co. will host one of 10 preliminary rounds of the U.S. Coffee Championships this weekend in Canton.

The competition takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at 137 Walnut Ave. NE. Baristas will serve espresso beverages for judges to review.

For more, go to Also Saturday and Sunday, the shop will host “Celebrating the Craft,” with crafts and live music. Helping with the event are Visit Canton, Arts in Stark, Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster and Brioso Roastery and Coffee Bar in Columbus.

Phone for the Canton store is 330-452-6336.

Alexander Haas opened the Canton site in 2003, when he was just 24. It’s a coffee shop, roaster and wholesaler. Other locations are in the Portage Lakes and Jackson Township.

Tomato sandwiches

It’s time for tomato sandwiches.

That’s the word from Dan Julian, of Julian’s cafe in Akron’s Goodyear Heights.

The cafe is celebrating its 20th year, and tomato sandwiches have long been a staple this time of year. They’re far from fancy: sliced tomatoes, lettuce and a squirt of mayo on white bread. They cost $5.50, up slightly from last year, with chips and a pickle. Bacon or cheese are extra.

The cafe is at 314 Pioneer St. Call 330-798-0043. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Hot dog eatery

Edd Pritchard of GateHouse Media’s Canton Repository wrote this week about the new Hartville location of Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe, a popular regional franchise in the Pittsburgh area.

Jerry Phillis brought the chain to Hartville earlier this year at 808 W. Maple St. in the Edison Park Plaza.

Brighton hot dogs are a favorite of Indians manager Terry Francona. He grew up in New Brighton, Pa., where the first shop opened in 1959.

To read Pritchard’s report, go to

Medina Fest

The Medina Fest will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25 on Public Square with food, live music, a business showcase, the farmers market, the PNC Bank Mobile Learning Adventure and more.

It replaces the Medina International Fest and is one of many events marking the city’s 200th birthday. Go to

Local events

• Papa Joe’s, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road, will host a five-course Burgess Wine Dinner at 7 p.m. Aug. 18. Cost is $95. Call 330-923-7999 for reservations.

• The Akron Zoo’s second annual “Wild for Wine” tasting will run 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25. Cost is $45 for zoo members and $50 for nonmembers. Designated drivers are $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Visit or call 330-375-2550, ext. 7230, for tickets.

• 35° Brix, 3875 Massillon Road, Green, will offer a six-course bourbon dinner at 7 p.m. Aug. 23. Cost is $79. Call 330-899-9200 for reservations.

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or [email protected]. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook at

Great Lakes Brewing Co. is paying tribute to Cleveland Browns legend Joe Thomas.

The offensive lineman who retired in March after 11 years with the NFL team helped brew 73, a limited-edition kolsch-style ale that will hit the Cleveland market next month.

“I love craft beer, and throughout my career in Cleveland I had the opportunity to enjoy some of the best from Great Lakes,” Thomas said in a prepared statement. “I had 11 pro seasons in Cleveland and they’ve had 30, so we’re a good, seasoned match. It’s been so much fun going through the entire process from design through brewing the first batch at the pub.”

The beer will be available in 12-ounce cans and on draft. The can label features an illustration of Thomas flexing a bicep and is adorned with the Browns’ colors of orange and brown. The background also highlights many accomplishments, including his All Pro awards and record playing 10,363 consecutive snaps.

Lest you think 73 is the number of quarterbacks he protected over the years, it’s actually his jersey number.

Great Lakes described the beer as “light, crisp, tailgate worthy.”

The collaboration came about after Thomas bonded over a beer with his next-door neighbor, Great Lakes Chief Executive Officer Bill Boor.

“He embodies so many things we admire at Great Lakes, and in Cleveland,” Boor said in a statement. “Reliability, hard work, loyalty, community involvement. The list goes on. After he retired, we agreed to make it happen. It seems so right for Joe Thomas and Great Lakes to work together on a special beer.”

Great Lakes used Iron Heart Canning Co. to put the beer in six-packs. It’s 5.7 percent alcohol by volume.

Thomas isn’t the first former Browns player to have a beer named after him. Hop View Brewing Co. produced Bernie Beer in collaboration with former quarterback Bernie Kosar.

Fat Head’s news

Fat Head’s Brewery will open its new beer hall and production brewery at 11 a.m. Aug. 20 at 17450 Lake Abram Drive in Middleburg Heights.

The much-anticipated brewery replaces Fat Head’s former production brewery and taproom, which was basically around the corner in Middleburg Heights. Fat Head’s also operates brewpubs in North Olmsted and Jackson Township, along with a restaurant in Pittsburgh.

The new facility is about 75,000 square feet — in other words, it’s humongous.

Growth continues

The Brewers Association says there were 6,655 active breweries in the United States as of June 30, up from 5,562 a year ago.

The Boulder, Colo.-based trade group also noted that there are an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 breweries in planning. It didn’t break down the specific number of openings or closings.

“The data demonstrate that 2018 is on pace to have the highest number of brewery openings and closings to date,” association chief economist Bart Watson said in a prepared statement. “However, even as breweries close, openings continue to far outpace the number that shutter.”

He offered a piece of advice for new brewers.

“New players looking to enter the space should be aware of the constructs of the current landscape, work to differentiate themselves and will need to make quality beer to succeed,” he said.

Meanwhile, the association estimated that production volume rose 5 percent.

Beer festivals

Looking for a beer festival this weekend? You’re in luck.

There are several scattered throughout Northeast Ohio:

• The seventh annual Science of Brewing takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, 11 W. Federal St., Youngstown. For details, go to:

• The fifth annual BrewFest Waterfront District runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Black River Landing, 421 Black River Lane, Lorain. The event features more than 50 craft breweries, live music and food. For details, go to:

• The seventh annual Chardon Brewfest takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday on Chardon Square in Chardon. The event features more than 25 breweries, live music and food. For details, go to:

Beer sampler

• The Daily Meal assembled a list of the best beer in each state, choosing Columbus Bodhi for Ohio. The website says it used its own research, along with BeerAdvocate, RateBeer and UnTappd to come up with the list. To read the full list, go to:

• Perennial Artisan Ales from St. Louis is now available in Ohio through Cleveland-based Sixth City Distribution. “We are stoked to see Perennial shared in an awesome beer landscape like Ohio,” Perennial national sales manager Ben Bailey said.

• A Gallup poll says Americans who drink alcohol prefer beer (42 percent) over wine (34 percent) and liquor (19 percent).

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or [email protected]. Read his beer blog at Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.

Tens of thousands gathered overnight along the Akron railroad tracks to stake out a good vantage point. The train was hours late, but the hushed crowd didn’t complain.

No matter how long it took, they wanted to be there to pay their final respects.

President Warren G. Harding, 57, an Ohio native, former U.S. senator and ex-newspaper editor from Marion, had suffered a fatal heart attack Aug. 2, 1923, in San Francisco during a cross-country trip with his wife, Florence.

The Republican president’s body was being returned east to Washington, D.C., aboard an 11-car funeral train that had been shrouded in black crepe and purple ribbons. In a Pullman car at the back of the train, Harding’s flag-draped casket had been elevated to window level so it could be viewed outside.

Millions lined the tracks across the country after Florence Harding requested that the train travel slowly so as many mourners as possible could view the somber procession for the 29th president.

The train was expected to arrive in Akron after 11 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, but there was no way to know when it might chug into town. A crowd began assembling around 8 p.m. at Union Depot in the gulch off East Market Street.

Word spread after midnight that the train was still several hours away. Some residents went home to get a little sleep before returning. Others decided to maintain their positions and hunker down until morning.

“They waited,” the Beacon Journal reported Aug. 7. “Through the long dreary night hours, shivering, uncomfortable with the damp dews of summer chilling them, they waited.

“For hours, they sat or reclined in any position they could assume, tired but patient, uncomfortable, but bearing it as an easy burden.

“They were waiting to pay their final respects to all that was mortal of Warren G. Harding, late president of the United States.

“They waited.

“That was their greatest tribute.”

By daybreak, more than 15,000 people had assembled at the train station or along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks. An estimated 50,000 others had selected sites along the rails elsewhere in Summit County, including Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Kenmore and all points between.

The crowd was eerily quiet, speaking in soft tones if at all. Men and women. Young and old. Black and white. Republican and Democrat.

Some of them may have recalled when the Hardings had visited town three years earlier as the U.S. senator campaigned for president. He delivered three speeches April 19, 1920, at the Elks Club, Goodyear Hall and Akron Armory.

“This republic is too big for one-man government,” Harding told one audience. “No matter how intellectual and brilliant; no matter how gigantic his stature; no matter how eminent his service or how patriotic his motives, no man shall rule the republic or dictate its destinies. Our security is in coordinate government under the Constitution.”

Three short years later, he was gone.

The rumble of steel wheels pierced the silence about 7:10 a.m. Tuesday. Akron police guarded every crossing from Main Street to Arlington Street.

The locomotive pulled into view, traveling about 10 mph and crossing the city in 25 minutes.

Men took off their hats. American flags dipped. Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, National Guard, Salvation Army and Boy Scouts stood at attention. Military members presented arms.

The train rounded the curve at Buchtel Avenue and reached Union Depot at 7:24 a.m. Smoke drifted skyward from the approaching locomotive.

“What had before been an expectant hush of the crowd became now a profound stillness,” the Beacon Journal reported. “No one seemed even to move. All eyes were on this slow moving, ponderous train carrying now as its beloved burden, a dead president.”

Mourners watched the train roll past the depot. Some onlookers were so close to the rails that they could almost reach out to touch the cars. The people had waited for hours for this moment, and it was over before they knew it.

The last car, the one carrying Harding, glided by and disappeared down the tracks. The crowd exhaled and began to disperse, finally breaking into conversation about the morning’s events.

The funeral train continued to the Old Forge rail yard, where it stopped for 10 minutes. Spectators glimpsed the first lady seated next to her husband’s casket. Service members stood at attention in the private car.

Spectators lined the tracks as the sad parade rolled through Kent and Ravenna toward Youngstown before continuing to Washington. Following a ceremony in the nation’s capital, Harding’s body was returned to Marion for funeral and burial Aug. 10.

Among those attending the rites were Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, President Calvin Coolidge and Chief Justice Howard Taft.

About 100,000 mourners converged on Marion to pay their respects. Harding was laid to rest in an ivy-covered vault.

History has not been kind to the 29th president. Although Harding was popular during his lifetime, revelations emerged after his death that sullied the reputation of his administration, including the Teapot Dome bribery scandal and allegations of marital infidelity and a child out of wedlock.

In rankings of U.S. presidents, historians often regard him near the bottom.

But there is no denying that for one week in August 1923, a stunned nation was united in grief, and millions found solace from both sides of the tracks.

Mark J. Price can be reached at 330-996-3850 or [email protected].

“Why are you talking like that to the dog?” my son recently asked me in a distinctly incredulous tone.

“You mean like this?” I then cleared my voice and really poured it on.

“Oh, Travis Wavis. You are the biggest, bwavest, bestest doggie woggie who ever wived. You’re such a good, good, good boy who never, ever poops on the dining woom wug anymowe, do you my wittle schmoopsie woopsie?

“You mean like that?” I said, turning my attention from the 7-month-old mutt with the giant underbite back to my 22-year-old son, who was making a face I didn’t recognize.

“Um. Yeah, Mom. Are you OK? I’m worried about you. This isn’t the first time I’ve overheard you talking to the dogs like that.”

“Of course, I’m OK. I’m better than OK and so are Travis and the other dogs. I just read about a study that showed dogs are happier and bond better with their owners if their human talks baby talk to them. Look how happy he is!”

We both turned to Travis, who was nearly levitating from wagging his tail, his pearly white bottom teeth glistening in the sun.

“You try it,” I said. “See what happens.”

Leaving his dignity behind, and making sure no one else was around, my 6-foot 3-inch son squatted down and began baby-talking to the dog. We both watched as Travis bounded over to him with great exuberance and began licking him all over his face.

“See? I told you he likes it. Now add something about not pooping in the dining room.”

He declined, but I did not forget the lesson when I was out in Steamboat Springs, Colo., last week with my dear friends Mary and Frank.

It was my fourth trip to their beautiful home and on every visit we visit Larry the Camel, who is a very famous Steamboat Springs resident. He’s famous because he was the only camel in the city until they brought him a girlfriend named Camille.

The day we stopped by, it was unseasonably warm. Camille was munching on hay and Larry was surrounded by flies and sitting the way camels do, paying no mind to Camille, the hay or us.

“Hi, Larry, you handsome boy. You’re so good-looking,” Mary said. Everyone in Steamboat knows Larry is the best-looking resident. And so, it appears, does Larry.

The three of us cooed and tried to coax Larry into giving us his attention but he just sat there, doing his best impression of an ad for cigarettes.

That’s when I remembered the baby talk. If it works for dogs, maybe it’ll work for a camel.

Standing on the other side of Larry’s fenced-in pasture, and next to my soon-to-be horrified friends, I launched into the longest bit of baby-talk gibberish that camel has ever heard.

And then there was magic. First his back legs came up. Then the front. Then Larry the Camel was fully upright and practically running to the fence. He paced back and forth with what looked like a sly camel smile as I continued my monologue. Suddenly, Larry looked happier. His hump looked taller. He looked like he believed in himself again.

Frank and Mary said they wouldn’t have believed it if they hadn’t seen it. I suspect they didn’t really want to see it or hear it; however, they are very gracious hosts.

So gracious that when I asked them to stop the car the next day, after a huge buck had crossed the mountain road, they did so without hesitation.

Wanting to get a picture of the majestic stag that had wandered into the brush, I rolled down the car window and did they only thing I could think of: I started talking baby talk.

As God as my witness, along with Frank and Mary, that beautiful creature stopped in his tracks, turned around and posed long enough for me to get pictures. The way he turned his head, you’d have thought he was telling me “that’s the nicest thing any human being has ever said to me.”

With each new conquest of the language barrier, I discovered what can only be described as a new kind of Rocky Mountain High. I even baby-talked hummingbirds and a marmot with similar success. Though the hummingbirds were a little skittish, I felt that I was turning into a regular Dr. Doody-doody-doody-Doolittle.

However, my new role as Caller and Tamer of the Wild did not prepare me for what came to my outside bedroom door two mornings before I left.

As I was getting dressed, out of the corner of my eye I noticed something moving.

I turned to see a 150-pound mountain lion looking straight at me, a screen and a glass door the only things that separated us.

I have to be honest and say that baby talk is not the first thing that came to mind, as he licked his lips and my kneecaps started vibrating.

Before he sauntered off, I managed to grab my phone and snap a picture of the beast, and thought, “He’s obviously heard about me from Larry and the others.”

Contact Robin Swoboda at [email protected].

A large blue sign stands out from wall-to-wall artifacts inside the Summit County Softball Hall of Fame at Firestone Stadium.

Trimmed in red and white neon, it’s the original sign that welcomed patrons to Joe’s All Star Cafe, an Akron landmark that operated from 1920 to 2000 on East Market Street. The sports bar sponsored generations of local teams and boasted more than 400 trophies when it closed to make room for an Akron City Hospital parking lot.

The glowing relic is among the many surprises at the Akron museum, which is tucked below a grandstand on the third-base line at the historic ballpark.

“It really covers the history of softball,” said Bernie Factor, president of the Akron Amateur Softball Commission.

The sport was introduced locally in the early 1920s, so that means we’re fast approaching the centennial anniversary of softball in Akron — not to mention the 100th birthday of Firestone Stadium, which was dedicated in 1925.

Packed with display cases and rows of memorabilia, the museum includes old photographs, plaques, trophies, jerseys, bats, softballs, gloves and other gear. It’s located in a remodeled space that once served as a pistol range for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. workers and Akron police officers.

“The targets were against that wall back there,” Factor said.

The commission was established in 1981 “to advise and assist the Akron Recreation and Parks Bureau to provide, promote and advance amateur softball and encourage good sportsmanship; foster competition; and review, develop and recommend policies for the use of city softball facilities.”

The group inducted its first Hall of Fame class in 1986. The city agreed to house the hall at Firestone Stadium, the city’s top ballpark for softball.

“What a place to have it,” Factor said.

Walking among the exhibits, you never know what you might find.

Fast pitch and slow pitch. Men and women.

There’s a red uniform from Eddie Feigner, who in the 1940s established “The King and His Court,” a four-man softball team that barnstormed the country, including Akron, in search of worthy competition.

The museum pays tribute to Akron umpires George J. Popp and Herman Ziruola with a mannequin exhibit featuring their official gear and game equipment.

There’s a championship plaque from Roy Thorn’s Garage, which captured city titles in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1946. Fastpitch ace Paul “Fireball” Young’s jersey, wristwatch and ring are displayed in one showcase. There’s a 1950s team photo of the Chicago Cardinals from the National Girls Baseball League. There’s a 1971 bat from home run king Ski Lawler, Goodyear’s athlete of the year.

In addition to every major rubber company, the names of old Akron businesses leap from the collection: Salem Potato Chips, United Cleaners, Quaker Oats, Lucky Shoe Cafe, Knafel Pontiac, Varca Grocery, Riggs Electric, Waxman Tailors, Canton Road Furniture, Butler’s Pure Oil. There are also several taverns and restaurants: Red’s, Ramon’s, Anton’s, Cirello’s, Howie’s, Lindy’s, Walther’s, Tim’s, Louie’s, Angie’s, DeCheco’s, Luigi’s and, of course, Joe’s All Star Cafe.

In the late 1970s, there were more than 500 men’s softball teams in the Akron area.

“It seemed like everybody had a team,” Factor said. “And everybody was out to get the best players.”

And in an era when a good nickname was a vital part of the game, the hall of fame is filled with examples: Garvis “Lefty” Young, Henry “Beano” Neidert, Harold “Bucky” Holiday, Frank “Whitey” Wahl, Dick “Jelly Roll” Baker, Harold “Buster” May, Thomas “Spike” Buzzelli, Joseph Edward “Tiny” Gorbach, Harold “Fat Daddy” Stanford, Alfred “Oop” Eckman, Robert “Rip” Collins and Joe “Pip” Saitta.

The Joe Miktarian Service Award, which recognizes outstanding service to the Akron softball community, is named for the Joe’s All Star Cafe founder whose neon sign glows at Firestone Stadium.

The museum welcomes donations of softball memorabilia from the public. In fact, if anyone has a photo of Roy Richbury, he is the only hall of famer who isn’t pictured.

There is no admission charge to the Summit County Softball Hall of Fame, and there are no set hours. When there are games at the stadium, though, the museum generally is open.

“We try to have it open as much as we possibly can,” Factor said. “It’s absolutely free. We tell people: If you’re from out of town or something, give us a call because every one of the members have a key and they can let you in. We’ve met people down here at night or in the morning and let them go through.”

Even when the snow is flying, people are welcome to tour the museum.

“We can do it at any time of the year,” he said.

Mark J. Price can be reached at 330-996-3850 or [email protected].

I am not a golfer.

I repeat I am not a golfer.

And the few times I have thrown the clubs around — usually in the air in frustration — at a real golf course I have adopted the approach that I want to get my money’s worth.

I believe in taking as many swings as possible and exploring each and every inch of the course, and that includes the backyards of those unfortunate to live nearby.

So, while those so-called professionals are in town this weekend to hit the ball around the fabled lush greens at Firestone in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, we amateurs can strut our stuff at courses where you also have to match wits with windmills, ramps and a stray stone animal or two.

We reached out to the owners and operators of several area miniature golf courses asking them to pick their personal favorite holes for the ultimate round of nine holes of miniature golf. With some sunscreen slathered on my noggin and armed with a 44-ounce Coke slushy, I set out to visit seven miniature golf joints to play each and every one of the celebrated holes.

The goal? Not embarrass myself.

Hole 1 (14)

There are two mini golf courses at Sluggers & Putters in Canal Fulton — the Adventure and the Olde’ Skool course. Owner Tim McCully is a bit sentimental toward the Adventure course that opened in 1992.

The tree-lined Adventure course has a mishmash of a nursery rhyme and Wizard of Oz themes and features tons of props from the old Mother Goose Land in Canton that date back to the 1950s.

Trying to pick his personal favorite hole was tough as his mind traced the course’s signature yellow brick road. He personally likes hole No. 14 — a par 2 — because it has a “crooked” approach and is a bit tougher than the rest.

I took a crooked unorthodox approach with my Webbfeet and gave the ball a good whack. I was rewarded by landing square in the middle of a deep indentation of rough fake grass. It took two more strokes to finally sink the putt.

Not a great start as I am already one over par. And I have Follow the Yellow Brick Road stuck in my head.

Hole 2 (6)

Tim’s favorite hole on the Olde Skool course is just a chip shot away. Hole 6 may just be my favorite too for a very selfish reason. The par 2 pays homage to Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a mock football field and NFL jerseys.

There are even fun cutouts that you can stick your noggin in to be either a referee or a cheerleader. And to build excitement they have piped in some stadium rock anthems.

My approach was to just give it a big whack and hope for the best. I was rewarded with a rattle, rattle and a clunk.

A hole in one! After two holes, I am back to even par.

Hole 3 (13)

The next round in this golf odyssey brought me to Putter Park and Patio at Stonehedge in Akron. Let’s just say you might want to bring along your driver (the club and someone to drive the cart — just kidding) as these are some pretty long holes.

The most challenging hole at this course, and believe me there are a lot of unusual ones, is No. 13. It is a par 5 — also not a good sign — and you have to putt directly into a sharp bank that leads up to a platform, where you have to then drop to the green below.

If this isn’t disconcerting enough, you have to try to concentrate with the hum of state Route 8 traffic in the background. I managed to shoot a 4 leaving me one under par, and I also got in 200,000 steps.

Hole 4 (8)

The miniature golf course at the Downview Sports Center operated by the city of Cuyahoga Falls is one of the prettiest and well-maintained in the area. I blame my gawking at the scenic views for my miserable round of miniature golf.

The favorite hole here is No. 8 — dubbed the “waterfall hole.” I ended up hitting a 5 on the par 2 after my ball swirled around the cup not once but on two separate occasions before mercifully plunking in. For those you keeping score at home, I am now two strokes over par.

Hole 5 (17)

There are two courses at Fun-n-Stuff in Macedonia. The staff recommended the Pirate Cove course as they are working on sprucing up the Lighthouse Bay course.

The fan favorite is Hole 17, where you not only have to give it enough oomph to get it up a hill but not too much to hit it into the waterway. And, oh yeah, you also have to catch one of two ledges or the ball will roll right back down the hill at you.

This is an awful lot to remember, particularly when trains frequently rumble past. The other factor here is the scorecards are blank where the par should be listed so I declared it a par 3.

I felt like jumping off the proverbial ledge when I missed the hole’s ledge and my ball rolled right back to my feet on my first attempt. My second try made it up the hill and perched on the ledge. I somehow sank it on my next swing.

After five holes, I am now feeling exhausted and remain two strokes over par.

Hole 6 (18)

The buzzards were circling in Hinckley when I arrived at Buzzard Cove to check out the course there. They have two courses — the Castle and the Buzzard — and the fan and staff favorite is the 18th hole at the end of the feathered course.

It has a larger-than-life buzzard wearing a pirate hat perched atop the hole and is deceptively simple. You just hit the ball into an open box. But in order to score a hole in one, you have to hit a tiny ramp in the center.

Miss the ramp, you score a two.

I scored a two on the par 1 hole.

I have sunk to three strokes over par.

Hole 7 (17)

Not far from Buzzard Cove is Rinky Dink — home to two miniature golf courses. The staff picked hole 17 on the Wonders Course, so named for the so-called Great Wonders of the World props.

This particular hole is home to a replica of Stonehenge and it must have been casting off some strange vibes as my first attempt mysteriously flew off the course. I managed to finish this particularly long hole in four strokes to make par.

So after seven holes, I remain exhausted and three strokes over par.

Hole 8 (16)

It is hard to miss the staff’s pick at the adjoining Waterfall Course at Rinky Dink. There is this little old lady who lives in a GIANT shoe smack dab in the middle of the green on hole 16. But in order to make it to the shoe you have to first navigate a sloped turn on this par 3. I made the turn, but it took me two strokes to sink the putt.

I think I was distracted by the mean-looking old lady peering down at me and her two cartoonish kids with oddly large eyes mocking my golf game.

My scorecard remains three strokes over par with just one hole to go.

Hole 9 (11)

The last stop on this journey (and that’s a good thing because I have worn out the soles of my shoes) is at the Birdie Shack Putt-r-Golf in between Kent and Ravenna. The par 3 hole is a bit tricky as you have to make some quick choices.

You first have to hit up a hill where you can either shoot for a hole that leads to the cup in a lower area below or go for the bank to another cup that also leads below. I chose to be bold and go for the first, albeit, harder cup. And I missed. Twice.

The Birdie Shack is another one of those long courses and by the time my ball disappeared into a tunnel, I had ample time to walk around to the green below. My third shot for par was short and my fourth ringed around the cup and missed.

Five strokes. Not a great finish. Just scoring the “best” nine holes from each course, I ended up with a 30, or five over par.

This proves, once and for all, I am not a golfer — not even a miniature one.

Craig Webb, who will be recouping well into the fall from this grueling assignment, can be reached at [email protected] or 330-996-3547.

Lock 15 Brewing Co. brought in a celebrity to help make a splash with its debut beers.

Chuck Ayers, the longtime illustrator of the popular comic strip Crankshaft and a former Akron Beacon Journal editorial cartoonist, designed illustrations for all the beers at the upcoming Ohio & Erie Canal-themed, chef-driven brewpub in Akron.

Mutton Hill Hefe features an image of three sheep with one of them standing on two legs and downing a brewski. Towpath Porter shows a mule pulling a canal boat. And 1913 Pilsner has a scene from the great 1913 flood that destroyed the canal.

Lock 15 and the illustrations will make their public debut during the grand opening Aug. 21.

The brewpub, 21 W. North St., is in the old Swinehart Tire and Rubber Co. building at North Howard and North streets and just a few steps from the Towpath Trail, canal lock 15 and the Mustill Store.

Brewpub co-founders Joe Karpinski and Colin Cook reached out to Ayers on a whim. Cook has known the Ayers family since he was a kid and thought it’d be cool to get him involved. It turns out Ayers was part of the founding of the Cascade Locks Park Association and he was more than happy to jump in.

“He was already intimately connected to this whole area,” Cook said.

Lock 15 also hired artist Michael Ayers, Chuck’s brother, to create canal-themed murals inside the brewpub.

Karpinski and Cook, along with executive chief John Taylor, are excited to open the doors to the public. While the seven-barrel brewhouse is already pumping out beer, workers are still putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, restaurant and bar.

“The first day coming in here and smelling the brews going was a big moment for me,” Cook said.

The food will be a centerpiece of Lock 15, with the brewpub offering everything from salads to burgers to grilled sirloin to shrimp and grits.

Cook and Taylor traveled to New York City this week to take part in the Cleveland Rocks dinner put on by the James Beard Foundation.

“It’s a huge honor,” Cook said. “To not be open yet but to be included in that dinner speaks to John’s talent.”

Lock 15 will feature 120 seats inside and another 100 in outdoor beer garden. There’s also a sitting area under a pergola and plenty of raised gardens housing herbs and vegetables.

As for the beer, the brewpub will eventually offer 10 on draft: Mutton Hill Hefe, 1913 Pilsner, Towpath Porter, Old Brick strawberry-rhubarb wheat ale, Instigator IPA, Cascade Locks Pale Ale, Mustill Mild, Swinehart Stout, Station 3 Habanero IPA and Signal Tree Tripel.

All the names are pulled from the area or local history.

Lock 15 will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. The brewpub also plans to open early for brunch on Sundays in the future.

If you just can’t wait to get a taste of Lock 15, the brewery will be serving two of its beers — the porter and hefeweizen — on Saturday at the Akron Ale Fest.

For more details, check out

Fest reminder

The Akron Ale Fest — which focuses on Akron-area breweries and is hosted by Crafty Mart — runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Trolley Barn, 47 N. Main St., Akron.

The festival will showcase more than 15 breweries, along with food and local artisans.

Tickets are $45. For more details, go to:

Market Garden wins

All hail Market Garden Prosperity Wheat.

The Bavarian-style hefeweizen took home the top honor last week at the Ohio Craft Brewers Cup — a new beer competition that focuses only on Ohio-made beers.

Prosperity Wheat was selected as the “Best of Show” at the judged event, which took place July 23 at the Dayton Beer Co. in Dayton. The awards were announced Saturday.

Prosperity Wheat bested about 220 other craft beers that were entered by 40 breweries around the state — along with the brewing program at Cincinnati State. The beers were tasted blind in 23 categories, with each gold medal-winning brew moving onto a final “best of show” table.

Akron-area breweries Akronym, Maize Valley, HiHO and Thirsty Dog took home medals. Akronym was rated the top brewery in Northeast Ohio, not including Greater Cleveland.

To see all the winning beers and breweries, check out my blog at

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or [email protected]. Read his beer blog at Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.

Lebanese flags — red and white with a green Lebanon cedar tree — lined the church driveway.

Inside, parishioners were preparing more than 700 bunches of curly-leaf parsley for washing and chopping later this week. Some will end up in tabbouleh (parsley, bulgur wheat and tomato salad), some in other dishes.

It’s almost time for the big Lebanese Festival, a celebration of food and culture now in its 30th year, at Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Catholic Church at 507 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road in Fairlawn.

This year’s event, running 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, features an expanded food lineup, dancing, music and more, including an outdoor hookah bar. Earlier this week, the hookah water pipes (used to smoke tobacco) were lined up on a table in the church hall, ready for action.

“We do this to bring our culture here … the food, the music, the working together as a community,” festival chairwoman Violette Shamatta said.

Shamatta, 46, of Medina, immigrated to the United States when she was 6 years old.

“Many of our children have not been to Lebanon. … I have not gone back to Lebanon” to visit, she said.

Helping to overseeing the food is parishioner Fares Jasser, who owns The Boulevard in Cuyahoga Falls.

Lamb shish kabobs will join beef kabobs on the menu. Roasted lamb shanks are back. They made their first appearance last year and were a big hit.

Also new this year is sayadieh, an all-in-one fish and rice dish. Volunteers will lightly fry fish fillets with onions, adding spices and layering the fish with rice before topping with pine nuts and toasted almonds.

“It’s served with tahini [sesame] sauce and pita chips,” said parishioner Hanan Khoury of Medina Township. “It’s really delicious.”

Her husband, Kamil, owns Cedars Deli in Brunswick.

At the festival, there will be the usual baked kibbeh (shells of bulgur wheat stuffed with spiced minced meat), falafel sandwiches (vegetarian patties made with a chickpea mixture), beef shawarma sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, kafta (spiced ground beef), hummus and a big array of pastries, including baklava and macaroon cookies.

One of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes is returning: mujadara, lentils and rice with caramelized onions.

Spinach and meat

Cooking began in May, with items such as grape leaves and fatayer — spinach pies and meat pies — prepared by church members and then frozen.

Church member Eleanor Abraham, 93, of Fairlawn, has been involved with the festival for all of its 30 years.

“I like to be with all our friends, people of the parish, helping out,” Abraham said, noting that some parishioners grew up in the church, and their parents were friends. “We’re just part of a big family.”

Her parents came to the United States from Lebanon in the 1920s, and she worked as a clerk at one of the Akron tire companies.

She stressed: “It’s just not the older people” helping. “We have middle-aged people, young people. There’s a bunch of us.”

Her daughter-in-law, Mary Beth Abraham, heads up the preparation of the pastries, and is known as the “baklava queen.”

Parishioner Tom Jesser said a former priest was instrumental in starting the festival in 1989, about three years after the church had moved from a location that is now part of the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center complex. The priest saw the festival as a way to bring the church family together and share the Lebanese culture with the community while raising money for the church’s upkeep.

These days, membership is around 150 families. It’s not a big congregation, but it’s a close-knit one, members say.

In addition to the food, music will be provided by DJs. Attendees can learn how to do the dabke, a line/circle folk dance, and there’s a silent auction and Auntie’s Attic rummage sale.

Seating will be available inside and outside. Food for pickup between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday can be ordered online at

For information, see that website or the Our Lady of the Cedars Lebanese Festival Facebook page.

Local Food Guide

A local group is making it easier to eat local.

The nonprofit Summit Food Coalition on Monday released its Local Food Guide, a listing of Akron-area farmers markets, farm markets (based at a specific farm) and pick-your-own farms.

“We hope this will enable you to buy direct from our area growers on a regular basis — or for the very first time,” Beth Knorr, the coalition’s director, says in the introduction to the 30-page plus guide.

The guide lists 16 farmers markets, all in Summit County, eight farm markets and four pick-your-own offerings. For each farmers market, the guide includes location, days of the week, dates, website and more.

It also includes farm share programs, also called CSAs for community-supported agriculture. These programs allow the buyer to share in a farm’s yield for the season.

The guide can be found at local farmers markets; the Farmer’s Rail butcher shop at 1572 N. Cleveland-Massillon Road in Bath; Akron Coffee Roasters at 30 N. High St. in downtown Akron; the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Main Library, 60 S. High St., Akron; and the coalition’s website:

To mark the guide’s release, the coalition is asking community members to participate in Local Food Advocacy Day on Tuesday, become a member and attend the group’s community meeting Aug. 22. For information, go to

Markets include well-known, established ones — such as the Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park — and new ones, such as the North Akron Market.

The North Akron Market runs from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 29 at 761 N. Main St. The Countryside Farmers Market runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Oct. 27 at 4040 Riverview Road in Cuyahoga Falls.

The guide notes which markets accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and which ones offer Produce Perks. This program allows customers using the SNAP/Ohio Direction Card to receive matching funds to buy additional fresh fruit and vegetables.

The food coalition seeks to improve access to healthful, local food. It also promotes economic opportunities for Summit farmers and food entrepreneurs through education and policy initiatives.

The coalition is a partnership that includes Summit County Public Health, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Workers in the Main Library’s science and technology division helped with put the guide together.

The guide does not include markets outside Summit County, such as the Haymaker Farmers’ Market in Kent, now in its 26th season. It’s the oldest in the region, running 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 27 on Franklin Avenue, under the Haymaker overpass between Main and Summit streets.

Hot time on North Hill

The Hot Summer Celebration, a hot pepper fest and a fundraiser for Shanti Community Farms in Akron, will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at Patterson Park in the city’s North Hill neighborhood.

Why hot peppers? They’re a favorite of Bhutanese people and Shanti Community Farms helps Bhutanese who have settled in Akron operate community gardens. Peppers from a Shanti garden will be among those at the event.

The event will feature appetizers — not all spicy — from Everest Nepali and Indian Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls, a pepper-eating contest and hottest pepper competition.

Cost is $20, which includes food and activities like a bamboo splitting contest and snake gourd dart throw, as well as musical performances. Suggested donation to enter the pepper-eating contest or the pepper-judging contest is $10 each.

Get tickets at Patterson Park is at 800 Patterson Ave., north of East Tallmadge Avenue. It is near the International Institute of Akron, which has worked to resettle Bhutanese refugees in the area.

For more on Shanti Community Farms, go to

We’ll have more on the Hot Summer Celebration next week.

Taste of Earth

Crown Point Ecology Center’s 20th annual Taste of Earth dinner and auction will be at 5 p.m. Aug. 18 on the grounds at 3220 Ira Road in Bath.

Festivities will begin with cocktails and appetizers and a silent auction. A four-course dinner will follow, featuring fresh organic veggies from Crown Point’s gardens. Hudson’s restaurant is catering the event for the fifth year.

To request an invitation or to purchase raffle tickets, call Ellen Otto at 330-668-8992, ext. 106, or email her at [email protected].

Proceeds benefit the general fund. Crown Point is a nonprofit farmstead offering sustainable agriculture programs. It is a ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Have a sip or two

• Papa Joe’s, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road, in the Merriman Valley will host a five-course Burgess Wine Dinner at 7 p.m. Aug. 18. Steve Burgess will be on hand; his father, the late Tom Burgess, a native of Cuyahoga Falls, launched Burgess Cellars in Napa Valley in 1972. Reds and one white will be featured. Cost is $95. Call 330-923-7999 for reservations.

• The Akron Zoo’s second annual “Wild for Wine” tasting will run 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25 with local wines and appetizers.

Cost is $45 for zoo members and $50 for nonmembers. Designated drivers are $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. The zoo will be open and the event will go on rain or shine. Visit or call 330-375-2550, ext. 7230, for tickets. This event sold out last year.

• 35° Brix, 3875 Massillon Road, Green, will offer a six-course bourbon dinner at 7 p.m. Aug. 23.

The dinner will feature six “hard to come by bourbon pours,” paired with food. Cost is $79. Call 330-899-9200 for reservations. See the 35° Brix Facebook page for a listing of the bourbons.

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or [email protected]. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook.

Crime didn’t pay. It could, however, defray expenses.

Two weeks after federal agents gunned down gangster John Dillinger outside a Chicago theater in July 1934, his family was invited to Akron to share stories and macabre memorabilia related to Public Enemy No. 1.

John Dillinger Sr., 70, a farmer from Mooresville, Ind., said he needed to raise money to pay for his son’s funeral bill.

“I don’t know how the Akron people will receive us,” he said. “People were right friendly in Indiana, but we’re among strangers now.”

City officials balked when the Dillinger clan was booked to appear at the Summit County Agricultural and Industrial Exposition Aug. 9-12 at Akron Municipal Airport.

“It would hurt the morals of our youth,” Akron Finance Director Ross Walker complained. “It would be glorifying of the criminal.”

Safety Director Walter P. O’Neil agreed, pledging: “I don’t care what method is used but the Dillingers are not going to appear here.”

Akron promoter Frank A. Ruttman offered an entirely different opinion about the appearance. He had invited the family to town after reading that the elder Dillinger had delivered a heartfelt lecture at an Indianapolis theater about the killer, bank robber and criminal mastermind.

“It’s going to be very uplifting,” he said. “Dillinger is going to talk on ‘Why Crime Never Pays,’ And the old man is really very nice, he goes to church every Sunday. He can’t help it if his son went wrong.”

Akron Law Director C.C. Benner explained that the city could not legally prevent the Dillinger family from staging a show. Service Director E.A. Kemmler pointed out that the “free-speech rights of Dillinger could not be abridged.”

So the family traveled by automobile from Indianapolis. Accompanying Dillinger Sr. were his daughter Audrey Hancock and her husband, Emmett, and son Emmett Earl, 6; son Hubert Dillinger, 21, and daughters Doris Dillinger, 16, and Frances Dillinger, 12, half-siblings of the 31-year-old gangster.

“This is the farthest I’ve ever been from Mooresville,” Dillinger Sr. told an Akron reporter. “I was in Chicago twice, and I just skipped the edge of Ohio once, but this is the first time I’ve ever really traveled.”

As a publicity stunt, B.E. “Shorty” Fulton gave Dillinger the first airplane ride of his life, but the farmer didn’t seem all that impressed, commenting afterward: “I don’t allow that was so much but I always try anything once.”

He finally decided: “ ’Twas all right.”

Sponsored by the American Legion, the county expo was expected to attract more than 200,000 people, including 65,000 from out of town, a bit of escapist fare during the Great Depression.

The fair included a merry-go-round, turtle races, industrial display, model airplane contest, tractor exhibit, horse show, balloon ascension, dressmaking competition, hurdy-gurdy man, fireworks, Ferris wheel, carnival games, marching bands and a Mae West beauty contest for girls over 130 pounds.

“We want it very clear that the American Legion has nothing to do with Dillinger’s coming,” said Col. Joe Johnson, manager of the expo. “We just rented the space to Ruttman, that’s all.”

The Dillingers operated a tent on the midway. The cost of admission was not disclosed in newspaper articles, but the family received 60 percent of the gate at the tent, which could accommodate more than 50 people at a time.

Inside, fairgoers could see a wooden gun that Dillinger had used to break out of an Indiana jail, a personal deck of playing cards, a machine gun, photographs and an assortment of clothing, including suits and ties.

A white shirt with a brownish-red splotch was the main attraction. The bloodstained garment was the shirt that Dillinger had worn on the night he was killed.

“This is the best proof in the world that crime does not pay,” Dillinger Sr. told audiences, motioning to the shirt.

For a nickel, he then autographed postal cards featuring a photo of his son holding a machine gun.

“I ain’t doing nothing wrong, I don’t figure,” Dillinger Sr. told a reporter.

“You all know how farming has been the last few years, so you can see I’m enjoying this. People in Indiana didn’t think there was anything wrong about me going around, and I talked to a minister, and he thought it was all right, too.

“And by the way, our name is pronounced just like it looks, with the hard G.”

After four days, the Dillinger family packed up its belongings, including the bloodstained shirt, and embarked on a three-month tour across the country.

The next stop was the World’s Fair in Chicago, where there was even more money to be made proving that crime doesn’t pay.

John Dillinger Sr. was 79 years old when he died in 1943. He was buried next to his infamous son at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Both could finally rest in peace.

Mark J. Price is the author of Mafia Cop Killers in Akron: The Gang War Before Prohibition from The History Press. He can be reached at 330-996-3850 or [email protected].

Hard to believe that the dog days of August will soon be upon us, and with their arrival we usher in National Community Gardening Awareness Month!

I recently learned of this designation through the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA). According to their website, the ACGA is a nonprofit whose membership is made up of professionals, volunteers and supporters whose mission is to “build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.”

Organizations such as ACGA provide a centralized leadership framework that facilitates growth and development of state and regional networks, support resources, research and educational programming centered on community gardening.

They are a very important part of our Northeast Ohio community fabric. We find community gardens of all types with varied purposes scattered across our urban, suburban and rural landscapes. They improve quality of life by contributing to neighborhood pride and beautification, resource conservation, community asset development, socialization, food self-reliance, home food production, therapy, education, recreation and physical activity.

National Community Gardening Awareness Month was established in September 2017 with legislation introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. The month is intended to tout the benefits that community gardens across the country offer to individuals, families and those in need. It seeks to support four goals and ideals:

• Raise awareness about the significance of community gardening and urban agriculture.

• Improve access to public land for sustainable food projects.

• Encourage growth of community gardening and other food and agriculture opportunities that provide for food self-reliance, increase physical activity, build sustainable environments and enhance community.

• Support collaborative efforts at all levels between government and non-government organizations that promote the development of community gardening, and increase accessibility to disadvantaged populations.

How wonderful that a national resolution exists to draw attention to community gardening that recognizes its benefits, finds support, opens up funding opportunities, and truly aims to celebrate its individual, communal, regional and national impacts.

There are lots of ways to discover how you can help build awareness of community gardens this August and year round.

Share your quotes, photos, videos, success stories and articles about what community gardening means to you on the ACGA’s Facebook page, or email to [email protected].

Attend a local program, open house or tour and learn more about community gardening in your neighborhood.

Check out and share a resource from the ACGA at

Become a volunteer at a local site and participate in a community garden volunteer or Master Gardener volunteer training program.

Attend the ACGA 39th annual conference, Sept. 13-16 in Atlanta:

Heather Neikirk is a Stark County Extension Educator in agriculture and natural resources for the Ohio State University Extension. If you have questions about healthy food systems, farm to school, food production, small farms, women in agriculture or food gardening, contact her at 330-832-9856 or [email protected].

They say it’s impossible to know how good your homeowner’s insurance really is until you file a claim.

The same can be said of your local hospital.

Until 2012, I had only a handful of experiences at Akron Children’s Hospital.

When he was in the second grade, Jules was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia at ACH. One of their orthopedists confirmed Hugo’s mild scoliosis and told him he had nothing to worry about. And ACH’s sports medicine department diagnosed Claude’s Osgood Schlatter disease, an inflammation of growth plates at the end of the tibia common in athletes who are growing rapidly.

Lyra, however, is an ACH frequent flyer. This month alone she has 11 appointments.

On her second day of life, we met for the one and only time with Dr. Catherine Ward-Melver, a kind geneticist who confirmed Lyra’s diagnosis of Down syndrome.

On her third day of life, we met Lyra’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Richard Hertle, whom we’ve seen multiple times a year ever since. He has operated on each of her eyes two times.

When she was 5 months old, Lyra was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition common in people with DS. Certified nurse practitioner Stephanie Marszal in the endocrinology department is also someone we see regularly. Our visits with her are like double dipping, for Marszal worked in a pediatrician’s office before specializing in endocrinology. She provides both an update on Lyra’s thyroid and an extra wellness visit.

In the second half of her first year, Lyra began the infant block of therapies offered at ACH. Physical, speech and occupational therapies in back-to-back half-hour appointments make effective use of everyone’s time. Children from birth to 3 years old are eligible with a qualifying diagnosis.

Speech therapist Shelly Vaughn had Lyra singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider at our first visit, leaving me slack-jawed. Heather Reiss, her occupational therapist, got Lyra to work, work, work on both fine and gross motor skills all while Lyra thought she was playing. When she aged out of the infant block, I cried because I had grown so close to these ladies.

These days, Lyra has four speech therapy and two occupational therapy appointments per month. When we pull into the parking lot, Lyra chirps eagerly from her car seat, “Lisa, Miss Margaret!” Still, I sit in on enough sessions to know they make our girl work. Recently Margaret Norin, Lyra’s OT, told me, “I wish just once my clients with DS would say ‘Yes!’ the first time I ask them to do something!” Oh, yes, I could not agree more.

With Down syndrome comes a cascade of tests to rule out various issues. Annually we visit Dr. Diane Langkamp in the Down syndrome clinic to make sure we are on top of these things. (Down syndrome clinics are overwhelmingly located in the northeastern U.S. and I do not take for granted that we have one in Akron.)

Last year, an ACH otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) ordered a sleep study for Lyra. Kids with DS have a higher rate of sleep apnea due to certain anatomical features. Any child not getting enough sleep has an increased risk of developmental delays, and children with DS need fewer, not more, developmental obstacles.

Most people with DS not only have low muscle tone, they frequently have ligament laxity. One common effect is foot pronation — ankles tilting toward one another while the toes splay outwards, fin-like — so Lyra has worn braces on her feet since she began walking.

But ligament laxity also affects the cervical spine. An injury to the atlantoaxial joint, or the first and second cervical vertebrae, can lead to paralysis or worse. So on July 20, Lyra had a spinal MRI under general anesthesia to examine the joint.

This past Thursday, Lyra also had an eye exam under anesthesia. Were she a more “compliant” patient, this would not be necessary. But Lyra fights like an oiled otter when getting examined up close and personal. Dr. Hertle needed to determine her first bifocal prescription and also test her for glaucoma. Because of her congenital cataracts and subsequent lensectomies, Lyra has a higher risk of glaucoma than the average bear.

Dr. Hertle. If I could put heart emojis in my column, they’d be here. When I learned my newborn needed eye surgery ASAP, I called a friend in a related field and asked who was the best in Ohio. Doctors hate talking about which practitioners are better, but as a friend of more than 30 years, this doc made some calls for me.

We’d be hard pressed to find a better pediatric ophthalmologist. Gentle and effective with Lyra (remember: oiled otter), when asked questions about the eye and his surgical techniques Dr. Hertle lights up like a boy getting his first puppy.

I learn other things from him too. When Lyra was 9 months old, she suddenly seemed to “awaken.” Dr. Hertle explained to me that the nerves in children with Down syndrome myelinate later than in typical kids: “See that wire down there,” he said pointing to an outlet with a thick cord plugged into it. “Because it’s insulated, electricity can travel faster. The same is true of nerves when myelination has occurred.”

I know of only two things lacking at ACH: One, the food could be better. Across the country, hospital restaurants serve food that is healthy, delicious and affordable. ACH has made some baby steps (two thumbs up for the cafe in the Kay Pavilion) but there is still ample room for improvement.

Also, all departments, including the ER and the surgery centers, should have more than popsicles and graham crackers (Goldfish, please).

The second deficit is big for us: No optometry. Because of her vision impairment, Lyra qualifies for a state insurance program called BCMH (Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps). It helps with her visits to Dr. Hertle, but ideally we’d be able to use it for her glasses, too.

Lyra has no lenses, natural or artificial, in her eyes. Her glasses are essential and expensive. In order to use the BCMH insurance, however, our primary insurance must get billed first. The only optometrist’s office in the northern half of Ohio that takes both our primary insurance and Lyra’s BCMH is at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

But these concerns are no more than a couple of cirrostratus clouds in a bright blue sky. Not a week goes by that I don’t thank the universe that it takes me less than 15 minutes to get Lyra to some of the top medical professionals in the country.

Not only is it an immeasurable convenience for Summit County residents, ACH has no shortage of business, or so Lyra’s neurologist told me recently. Which means ACH provides great medical care where it is greatly needed.

I know parents of children with Down syndrome who have moved to different states for better medical care. That decision is one we will never have to make. If ACH were an insurance company, we’ve filed just about every possible claim. And since the results typically exceed our expectations, we know firsthand how good it really is.

Contact Holly Christensen at [email protected].

The popular annual outdoor grub fest known as Taste of Akron is Thursday evening.

The smorgasbord, which will run from 6 to 10 p.m. at Hardesty Park in Wallhaven (where it always is), will feature about 30 restaurants, food trucks and other purveyors. Patrons buy tickets for $2 each, and food samples cost one, two or three tickets.

This year, you won’t have to hunt for a parking spot on one of the neighboring streets. Off-site parking will be available at Rubber City Radio at 1795 W. Market St., west of Hawkins Avenue. A shuttle will run between the lot and the park.

Also new: Norka will be the only soda pop sold. Norka (Akron backward) is the iconic brand that Michael Considine revived in 2015. So don’t look for any Pepsi, Coke or other national brand.

“We wanted to feature an Akron business,” Akron community event coordinator Laurie Chenevey said this week.

Attendees will be able to find Norka at two or more stations, but don’t look for it at the Hardesty Park Cafe, the seating area under a big white tent. You can buy beer and wine there, but not soda.

New Taste of Akron food purveyors are Akron Pickle, launched last month by Charly Murphy of Stray Dog Carts, Cafe & Condiments; CoreLife Eatery, a protein bowls chain that opened this year in Fairlawn; Craft Cantina, a spinoff of downtown Akron’s Crave that will open soon in the Merriman Valley; the Moe’s Southwest Grill chain; and Pots & Pans, the Jamaican restaurant downtown.

Yes, the Swensons food truck will be there, along with other mobile operations.

Here’s a sampling of what will be available: coconut shrimp (the Beachcomber food truck); Italian burger (Stray Dog Cart); chicken souvlaki (Arnie’s); charred kale and corn taco (Bomba Tacos & Rum of Copley Township); butter chicken (Bombay Grill); pork belly tacos (Craft Cantina); white chocolate and dried cherry bread pudding (Moe’s Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls); pulled pork (Old Carolina Barbecue); cherry danish (Sweet Mary’s Bakery); and brisket sliders (Totally Cooked Catering).

Some samples tend to run out, so don’t wait till the last minute on something you really want to try.

Tickets will be sold in the park’s pavilion. Cash, Visa and Mastercard accepted.

The event is a lead-in to the annual Akron Arts Expo weekend at Hardesty Park in Akron’s Wallhaven neighborhood. All of the events are organized by the city of Akron.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday — the night before the Arts Expo — the Summer Uncorked wine, beer and food event will be held at the park. Tickets are $45.

Hours for the Arts Expo are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Go to for information, including the entertainment schedule and details on activities, including a Sip and Paint event at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Hardesty Park is at 1615 W. Market St.

Hot time on North Hill

The Bhutanese love hot peppers. So why not celebrate the area’s Bhutanese population with a hot pepper fest, thought Tom Crain of Akron, a local teacher and organizer who works with area Bhutanese children and adults.

The Hot Summer Celebration from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at Patterson Park in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood will feature appetizers from Everest Nepali and Indian Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls, a pepper-eating contest and hottest pepper competition.

Crain emphasized that Everest will not serve up only spicy dishes.

Cost is $20, which includes food and activities, including a bamboo splitting contest and snake gourd dart throw, as well as musical performances. Suggested donation to enter the pepper-eating contest or the pepper-judging contest is $10 each.

Get tickets at Patterson Park is at 800 Patterson Ave., north of East Tallmadge Avenue.

Crain, who helped to found the Shanti Community Farms in Akron, which helps Bhutanese who have settled in Akron operate community gardens, said hot pepper contests are a staple in Bhutan.

Your ticket also will include a tour of Shanti’s garden off Tallmadge Avenue, near Patterson Park. The event is designed to raise money for Shanti and bring awareness to the group and the local Bhutanese population.

For more on Shanti Community Farms, go to

Crain estimates the area’s Bhutanese population at about 6,000. Many are refugees who came here through the federal refugee resettlement program after living for years in camps in Nepal, a small country in Southeast Asia squeezed between China to the north and India to the south. Others moved here after initially settling elsewhere in the United States.

The Everest restaurant was opened in 2016 by members of a family who moved to Ohio in 2013 after arriving in Washington state in 2009 from a refugee camp in Nepal.

We’ll have more on the Hot Summer Celebration soon.

Lebanese festival

The Lebanese Food Fair will serve up food and entertainment at Our Lady of Cedars Maronite Catholic Church from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug 3 and Aug. 4 at 507 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road in Fairlawn.

We’ll have more next week about the festival, which includes some of the tastiest Middle Eastern food around.

For a menu and more information, go to

Coffee shop opens

After much anticipation, Wholly Joe Coffee has opened at 11 E. Exchange St. near Main Street in downtown Akron, across from Pad Thai.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The shop features quick bites like sandwiches, wraps and salads. It’s tucked behind the Goodwill Blue boutique that faces Main Street.

It roasts its own beans, and offers fair trade beans.

The bad news is that Wholly Joe’s initial coffee shop — in Akron’s Merriman Valley — has closed.

David Fertig and Ken Fleming opened the first Wholly Joe’s in 2015 and by fall 2017 announced they were going to open a location downtown.

LaPlace open house

LaPlace is a new Akron event/wedding venue, with catering by its owner, that will host a community open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

LaPlace is in the former Gold’s Gym at 1850 Buchholzer Ave., across from Chapel Hill Mall. The open house will include information about other local businesses, food and beverages.

This is the third food-related venture Natalie Parks will be operating. The others are Natalie’s Catering and Fritters Southern Cuisine, a breakfast and lunch spot in Akron’s Ellet neighborhood.

She previously ran a cafe and bakery in downtown Akron.

For more information, go to

Wine and spirits

• The Akron Zoo’s second annual “Wild for Wine” tasting will run 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25 with local wines and appetizers. Watch animals create paintings with their feet; you could win a chance to pick the colors and take a painting home.

Cost is $45 for zoo members and $50 for nonmembers. Designated drivers are $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. The zoo will be open and the event will go on rain or shine. Visit or call 330-375-2550, ext. 7230, for tickets. This event sold out last year.

• Fleming’s will host a wine dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday featuring Jordan Vineyards of Sonoma County. Courses include ahi tuna poke, lemon peppercorn salmon with mixed greens, bacon-wrapped filet with parmesan asparagus, and olive oil cake.

The dinner costs $95, plus tax and tip; call 330-670-5200 to reserve. Fleming’s is at 4000 Medina Road, Bath.

• 35° Brix, 3875 Massillon Road, Green, will offer a six-course bourbon dinner at 7 p.m. Aug. 23.

The dinner will feature six “hard to come by bourbon pours,” paired with food. Cost is $79. Call 330-899-9200 for reservations.

You might spot a pro golfer if you visit the restaurant next week. Seems it has become a haunt for some of the players in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at nearby Firestone County Club.

Owner Kerry Janke said the restaurant is again teaming up with tournament sponsor Grey Goose on various promotions. Beginning Monday and running through next Sunday, the day the tournament ends, 35° Brix will offer Grey Goose drink specials and raffles for swag (including golf bags) and tournament tickets.

35° Brix also will offer dinner specials throughout the weekend. See

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or [email protected]. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook at

NORWALK, CONN.: Pepperidge Farm is voluntarily recalling four varieties of Goldfish Crackers because of fears they could potentially have salmonella.

The company on Monday took the action after one of its ingredient suppliers notified it that whey powder used in a seasoning may be contaminated. The products were distributed in the United States and no illnesses have been reported.

The Goldfish recall covers Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar, Flavor Blasted Sour Cream & Onion, Goldfish Baked with Whole Grain Xtra Cheddar and Goldfish Mix Xtra Cheddar + Pretzel. The company has posted a chart with the product codes on its website.

The products can be returned to place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers can call customer service at 800-679-1791.

The dog days of summer are here with a vengeance. Vegetable gardens are beginning to produce abundantly, weeds are growing with vigor and extremely hot weather can cause the most dedicated gardeners to grow weary.

With all of the garden action, I have received a number of calls regarding a variety of “problems.” This week I will focus on some of the questions that have come into the office.

Q: I applied a “weed and feed” type product to my lawn two weeks ago and the entire lawn died. What happened?

Weed and feed lawn care products are a mixture of fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide, which prevents the seeds of some weed species from germinating, or post-emergent broadleaf herbicides, depending on the formulation.

After further discussion with the client, she indicated that actually most of her lawn was clover and other types of broadleaved weed plants, rather than turf grass. So the product did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is kill broadleaved plants!

It is important to note that it is not recommended to use weed and feed products when the temperatures are above 90 degrees. The hot weather we have recently experienced may have contributed to the issue.

What should be done now? This isn’t the ideal time to either reseed or fertilize lawns. In this case, because most of the homeowner’s lawn was unwanted weed plants, it might be in the homeowner’s best interests to remove what is left, rake the debris and reseed beginning in mid-August with an appropriate grass variety for the site.

The client was also advised to do a soil test as soon as possible to see if the pH needs to be adjusted via the application of lime or sulfur, and to determine whether there is a nutrient deficiency and the level of organic matter before re-seeding.

There are many other things such as chinch bugs and fungal diseases that are currently causing dead patches in lawns so it is important to find the root cause of an issue to make the best decisions regarding management.

Read more about lawn problems at

Q: Japanese beetles are devouring my blueberries. We have put up traps and applied insecticides over and over but it doesn’t work. What can I do?

This beautiful but very destructive insect will feed on more than 400 species of plants, eating leaves and roots (depending the insect’s stage of development). There are many Japanese beetle “hot spots” throughout the region this year where they are attacking landscape, vegetable and fruit crops.

Several management strategies are available but it is important to know a little more about the way that each strategy works. Japanese beetle traps are very effective in attracting beetles. If the traps are placed near a plant that they like, chances are as they are being lured into the area, they will stop and spend some time feasting on your plants before heading to the trap. Not the most effective strategy.

If you are going to use an insecticide, it is important to be sure that the product has both the target insect and the affected plant listed on the label. Also pay attention to pollinator warnings now listed on some pesticide labels which will provide guidance on appropriate times to use. Many widely used pesticides that effectively control Japanese beetles can also affect pollinators.

Adhere to the post-harvest interval, which indicates how long you have to wait to consume fruit or vegetables after application, and the personal protective equipment listed on the label. The label is the law.

Many products are effective but the vast majority are contact insecticides and do not have any residual action, so while the product may take care of beetles currently there, it won’t affect newcomers. While effective in other regions of the United States, “milky spore disease” products do not provide control in Ohio.

An old-fashioned but somewhat effective method is the bucket of soapy water. Keep one of these nearby, knock the insects into the bucket and dispose away from the garden.

Read more about Japanese beetles at

Q: My dogwood tree looks terrible with spots all over the leaves and the twigs seem to be dying. What is going on, and can I save this tree?

One of the greatest challenges when trying to diagnose plant problems is describing the problem. Spots, splotches, streaks and colors are described differently by different persons. This best advice is to bring a sample into the Extension office. Some diseases cannot be diagnosed at the office and will need to be sent to the C. Wayne Ellet diagnostic lab.

In this case, the issue could be dogwood anthracnose. The symptoms usually start as leaf spots with tan or purple edges and begin to affect dogwoods in late May. The spots expand, then the twigs and then branches may become infected. Often the infected leaves will not fall off of the plant and the spore can spread to neighboring branches and dogwood trees. If the disease reaches the trunk it can kill the entire tree.

To tell the difference between this disease and others of dogwood, look under the leaves. With anthracnose, small pinpoint spots can be found within the diseased tissue.

Prune out all of the dead wood and any suckers that are growing on the trunk when the weather is dry. Rake and remove as many of the fallen leaves as possible and dispose of them. Do not over-apply nitrogen because this may spur succulent growth that is more susceptible to the fungus.

It is also important not to dig up dogwoods from the woods and transplant them into residential landscapes. There are several anthracnose-resistant varieties available. In severe cases, fungicide application in the late fall and early spring during leaf expansion can help manage the issue.

For more information on dogwood anthracnose, see

Master Gardeners

Become an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. The Summit County Extension office is now accepting applications for the Fall 2018 Basic Training Class. For information, visit

Jacqueline Kowalski is the Summit County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension educator for the Ohio State University. For questions on local foods, food production or other garden-related questions, contact her at [email protected] or 330-928-4769 ext. 2456. Call the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Hotline from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays at 330-928-4769, option 3 or extension 2481 or 2482.

Everybody certainly has heard of Christmas in July celebrations by now.

Well, Hoppin’ Frog Brewery is celebrating New Year’s Eve and Christmas in July this week.

“We’ll be the first to start a trend,” owner and award-winning brewer Fred Karm said with a laugh.

The Akron brewery, 1680 E. Waterloo Road, has released its New Year’s Eve 2018, along with Frosted Frog Christmas Ale, on draft and in 22-ounce bottles.

New Year’s Eve is a 13.6 percent barley wine with low bitterness and a lighter color than usual for the style.

“It’s a tasty beer, man,” Karm said.

“It’s a great way to celebrate the holidays. … It’s meant to be more like champagne, in that it’s not dark. It’s supposed to be light and effervescent.”

Meanwhile, Frosted Frog is a traditional spiced Christmas ale.

New Year’s Eve and Frosted Frog are available in 22-ounce bottles for $15 and $9, respectively, at the brewery.

Boon visit

Karel Boon of Brouwerij Boon in Lembeek, Belgium, is making two appearances Saturday in Cleveland.

There’s a meet-and-greet and tasting from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Butcher and the Brewer, 2043 E. Fourth St. Tickets are $35.

The Tremont Taphouse, 2572 Scranton Road, also will host a beer dinner with Boon at 6 p.m. Tickets are $70.

For more details or tickets, go to and search for “Karel Boon.”

Zoo reminder

The Akron Zoo will host its second Brew at the Zoo event of the year from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

The theme is “Paradise Island” and guests are encouraged to dress in tropical attire.

Participating breweries are: Akronym, Aqueduct, Canton, Headtrip, Hop Tree, Hoppin’ Frog, Maumee Bay, Mucky Duck, North High, Paradigm Shift, R. Shea, Rochester Mills, Sibling Revelry, Thirsty Dog and Wadsworth.

There also will be wine, food trucks, live music and a limbo contest.

Tickets are $27 for zoo members and $33 for non-members. VIP tickets are $50 and include early admission at 6 p.m., reserved seating, appetizers, additional beer tastings and a souvenir lanyard.

To purchase tickets, go to:

Blind tasting

Paste Magazine recently conducted a blind taste test of 324 IPAs from around the country.

The Brew Kettle’s White Rajah, which hails from Strongsville and claimed the top spot in a similar 2015 tasting, finished 73rd.

Great Notion Brewing Ripe IPA — which is from Portland, Ore. — took the No. 1 spot.

You can read the full rundown at

Concert tour

The Broadcast Music Inc. and Ohio Craft Brewers Association’s “Nashville Songwriters Tour” will swing by Lockport Brewery, 10891 Ohio Route 212, Bolivar, at 7 p.m. Aug. 22.

The free acoustic concert will feature Even Stevens and Earl Bud Lee.

For a full rundown of the series, you can check out my blog at

Barberton pub crawl

The Barberton Firefighters Union IAFF Local 329 is hosting a pub crawl in downtown Barberton to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The event, set for 6 to 11 p.m. Aug. 24, will feature Magic City Brewing Co., the Green Diamond, M&M Tap House, Casa Del Ranchero, Block 7, Kave and Ignite Brewing Co.

The establishments are offering a special food or drink for the night that when purchased also triggers a donation to MDA.

Anyone wishing to participate needs to purchase a wristband from the union for $10.

Firefighters will be on hand at each place with fire boots taking donations for MDA.

To participate, call executive board member Rick Schwenning at 330-618-1784, Mike Beckman at 330-388-0248 or Chuck Prager at 330-907-8680.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or [email protected]. Read his beer blog at Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.

An unusual song invaded the Akron airwaves in the summer of 1958, a novelty record that didn’t sound anything like the current pop hits by Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin or Peggy Lee.

Listeners tuning in to WAKR, WADC, WCUE or WHKK could catch the bouncy number, which the Beacon Journal described as “a catchy, toe-tapping tune.”

“Down at the Soap Box Derby, all the kids will be gathered there. It’s the race of the year. They’ll holler and cheer …”

Bruce Overbey, general manager of All-American Soap Box Derby, listened to the record over the loudspeakers in the ballroom of the Mayflower Sheraton Hotel, where actor Guy Madison, singer Pat Boone and comedian Eddie Bracken would soon arrive as celebrity guests.

The derby had never endorsed a commercial product, Overbey said, and wasn’t about to start.

“But I don’t see anything wrong with saying this tune’s better than a lot of things I’ve heard lately,” he said slyly.

“The racers are all lined up and ready to go. They’re off, down the hill they go. Faster and faster to put on a show. For fame and for victory …”

Chicago musician Hugh Lyons had composed Down at the Soap Box Derby and sent demo records of the song to Akron radio stations. The sheet music was available for 50 cents (about $4 today) at O’Neil’s, Polsky’s and other Akron department stores.

An overflow crowd gathered under sunny skies Aug. 18 at Derby Downs for the All-American race in Akron. The event featured 160 racers from across the country, and when it was all over, James Miley, 15, of Muncie, Ind., had edged Ron Ashley, 14, of Los Angeles, and David Hilligoss, 15, of Anderson, Ind., for the championship.

“It’s the race of the year all right. They’ll holler and cheer with delight. At the Soap Box Derby.”

The 1958 song had just about run its course by the time the All-American was over. After making a blip that summer, it was swept away like confetti after a parade.

Mysterious songwriter Hugh Lyons wasn’t seen around these parts again, but mostly because he didn’t exist. Lyons was a pseudonym for Hubert A. Wiede­meier, a prolific composer.

Born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1885, Wiedemeier had studied violin and piano as a child and was a protégé of bandleader J. Henri Fischer. He moved to Chicago as a young man, married Mabel Furry of Peoria, Ill., and worked as a department manager at the Rothschild & Co. store in Chicago.

In his spare time, he composed tunes under the name Lyons, the maiden name of his mother, Anna.

His first published song was At the Derby, which he wrote in 1947 as a tribute to the Kentucky Derby.

“On Derby Day, it’s a sight to see. All the racing fans have a jubilee. The roar of the crowds falls upon the ear with a mighty sound at the race of the year.”

Wiedemeier wrote so many songs that he didn’t remember them all, but some of the titles included Agnes, the Juke Box Queen, My Pretty Little Robin, We Salute You, Mr. G.I., Let’s Go for a Buggy Ride, Crazy Horse, My Cimarron Rose, Cora from Aurora, Tillie from Philly, I’m Only a Mustard Seed and It’s Just Corn.

He wrote Prudence Be Prudent for Prudential Insurance, Happy Landings for Trans World Airlines and, of course, Down at the Soap Box Derby for the All-American. He was 73 when he wrote that little ditty.

When he wasn’t composing, his hobby was collecting the horseshoes of famous horses. He owned more than 200, including Gene Autry’s Champion, Buffalo Bill’s Barnum, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Dot, Rudolph Valentino’s Jadaan, Tom Mix’s Tony, Gen. John Pershing’s Kidron and champion racehorses Seabiscuit, Man o’ War, War Admiral and Whirlaway.

Nicknamed “The Horseshoe King,” Wiede­meier estimated that his collection was worth $50,000 (more than $117,000 today). He discussed his horseshoes in the early 1940s on the NBC radio show Hobby Lobby with host Dave Elman in New York.

“I could tell you many stories about horseshoes and saints,” Wiedemeier once told a reporter. “In fact, I was named after St. Hubert, patron saint of the turf. My passion for horseshoes I inherited from my Irish-born mother, whose father owned and bred jumpers in Calway, County Mayo.”

He joked that he would always have good luck because he owned so many horseshoes.

In February 1985, a smoke detector began to blare at a Chicago apartment complex. Residents fled to safety, but realized in horror that their elderly neighbor’s apartment was on fire.

Firefighters found the 99-year-old man next to his bed. Neighbors said that the widower was deaf and almost blind, and liked to puff on a pipe. Investigators determined that the blaze originated in an armchair and blamed careless smoking.

Authorities said the apartment was filled with newspaper clippings, old magazines, sheet music, horse photographs — and cartons and cartons of old horseshoes.

Hubert A. Wiede­meier, also known as Hugh Lyons, was pronounced dead at the scene.

And somewhere on Derby Downs in Akron, the wind may have whistled a forgotten song.

“It’s the race of the year all right. They’ll holler and cheer with delight. At the Soap Box Derby.”

To see a short film on the 1958 derby, go to Mark J. Price can be reached at 330-996-3850 or [email protected]