A beginner’s guide to the unique and quirky side of the Rubber City.

by the readers of The Devil Strip

What's this 'You're so Akron if...' about anyway?

Anyone willing to scratch beneath the surface here knows Akron is unique. In fact, you don’t even have to be willing to scratch beneath the surface because Akron might just scratch you first. We’re talking about a city that spawned the greatest basketball player of his generation, multiple world-touring musicians, an astronaut, a US Poet Laureate, Alcoholics Anonymous, hamburgers, a Nobel Prize winner, actors and filmmakers, Quaker Oats, a heavyweight champion, the toy industry, the “Edison of Our Age,” Thomas Edison’s wife, two serial killers, professional women’s mud wrestling, the way your church is probably laid out and the most famous dirigible on the planet.

And that’s before you get to the food—sauerkraut balls and jo-jos, oh my!

This issue is dedicated to all our collective quirk (and then some)—announced, celebrated and dissected by you, the people who make this city great. What does it mean to be a real Akronite? It’s certainly more than a matter of mere geography. I think my friend Bridget Ambrisco summed it up best: “You’re so Akron if you recognize how authentically weird this town is …and you love it.”

Enjoy.

IT’S AN AKRON THING… YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND

You’re so Akron if…

You clearly get upset when you get lumped together with Cleveland. – Theresa Attalla

Someone tells you to do the “Wobble” and you say, “Yeah, I played in WABL.” – Mike D.

You know that Stan Hywet isn’t a person. – Jason Chitwood

Over half your wardrobe comes from Rubber City Clothing. – Jeremy Lile

You fought in school over whether Goodyear of Firestone was better. – Bill Hall

You vacation in Florida wearing only a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops in 60 degree weather. – Diane S.

It’s “St. V” rather than “St. Vincent-St. Mary”. – Jason S

Your bra was on the wall at Frank’s. – Sue Knapp

You grew up with a rubber tire shaped ashtray prominently displayed in your living room. – Jackie Mc. (also Jenny C.)

You and Archie the Snowman are on a first-name basis. – Ed Haas

You cut through the Glendale Cemetery to get to school and back. – John Zofchak

Either you are a Lone Star or you have partied with them. – Anthony Hall

You’re on time for parties. – Bridget A.

You lift your feet on a Sunday drive through the creek at Sand Run Park so they don’t get wet. – Diane S.

You turned your brother’s old soap box derby cars into dangerously awesome go-carts. – Jenny C.

People elsewhere look at you as if you have three heads when you mention jojos, devil strip or cream sticks. – Erin F. Grady

Every time you try to move away, something keeps pulling you back to the AK. – Colleen I.

LET’S EAT!

You’re so Akron if…

You carry around your checkbook just in case you have a spontaneous Luigi’s craving. – Alison Caplan

You order a salad at Luigi’s just for the cheese. – Jeff L

Every visiting out-of-town guest insists on one meal at Luigi’s, one at Swensons and a grocery trip to DeVitis Italian Market. – Robert S.

You’ve considered getting a job at Swenson’s to help you train for the Akron Marathon. – Jeff L.

You wear a Swenson’s lanyard at work but have never worked at Swenson’s. – Monte Chris DeCarlo

Your parents fought over whether Swenson’s or Skyway is better. – Karen W.

You’ve eaten at both Swenson’s and Skyway in one day. – Colleen I.

You consider sauerkraut balls our official food. – Becca B

You call El Rancho “Mexican Yoconos.” – Shane Wynn

Anything fried in lard automatically makes you think of Barberton chicken. – Karen W.

You’ve bought chicken and jojos from more than a dozen pizza carry-out places. – Amanda S.

You plan your summer around the appearance of your favorite Strickland’s flavor. – Linsy Biege

You eat cream sticks and drink pop, not soda. – Vicki Owens

You believe hamburgs are the reason we’re the home of the Inventors Hall of Fame. – Rick Stockburger

REAL AKRONITES DON’T STOP TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS

You’re so Akron if…

You know Exchange Street and Market Street meet twice. – John Zofchak

“Driving through the Valley” means taking a short cut. – Brian Harrell

Someone says “down in the Valley” and you know exactly where they mean. – Jason S.

You ever went sledding down Cadillac Hill on a trash can lid. – Jim Kormanik

You describe Akron to people as North Akron, South Akron, East Akron and West Akron, instead of just Akron. – Wesley Ian

Instead of saying you live in Akron, you say you live in Wallhaven, Merriman Hills, Highland Square, the Valley, Summit Lake, Firestone Park, Goodyear Heights, etc., etc.- Katie L .

You know at least four routes from Montrose to Chapel Hill. – Chris Pelrine

You judge every place you go on the quality and proximity of their parks. – John Craig

You know the difference between the Innerbelt and Interbelt. – Dana W.

You’ve dined via boat on PLX. – Diane S.

You know every mile the blue line. – Brad H.

You consider your college years in Kent as leaving home. – Michael McKeon

You know about the bricks. – Lilly Alexander

SIX DEGREES OF THE RUBBER CITY

You’re so Akron if…

You get upset when people say LeBron is from Cleveland. – Jeff L .

Your dad was LeBron’s teacher in 4th grade at Portage Path Elementary. – Anna Hauenstein

Dan Auerbach’s mom was your French teacher in high school . – Lauren Brady

You go to church with Pat Carney’s dad and Dan Aurebach’s mom was your French teacher in high school. – Molly Hauenstein

You know Zippy is a female. – Tim M. (also Katie L.)

You wear black-rimmed nerd glasses, right David Giffels? – Angie Miskell Haprian

You’re David Giffels. – Chris Drabick

IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE… IT’S AN AIRSHIP?

You’re so Akron if…

You hear a low roar and run outside to see the blimp. – Rick Stockburger

You know the sound of the blimp and only casually look up to verify. – Brad H.

You’ve seen multiple Goodyear Blimps flying together over the Rubber City. – Julie Plaufcan DiVitto

You think every logo would be better with a blimp in it. – Jeremy D. Lile

Your parents met working at the Goodyear Air Dock. – John Zofchak

You know that the Goodyear Airdock has its own atmosphere with rain and clouds. – Karen Hornick Sloan

You’ve tried to shoot down the blimp with a BB gun. – Jen B.

You don’t need to qualify which blimp you are talking about when you say “the blimp.” – Jason S.

EPONYMOUS QUIRK

You’re so Akron if…

You know what a devil strip is. – LeAnn Greer (also: Amanda S. and Alicia Wagner)

You don’t know there IS another word for “devil strip.” – Jason S.

ART FOR AKRON’S SAKE

You’re so Akron if…

You recognize all the references in “My City Was Gone” by the Pretenders. – Angie Miskell Haprian

You’ve done the math to figure out what year The Black Keys will be eligible for induction into the Rock Hall. – Jeff L.

You couldn’t wait for Ghoulardi’s Friday night Shock Theater. – Jenny C.

You were an extra in the movie “The Dead Next Door.” – Darlene Miller Faris

You’ve listened to the “Akron/Canton Hometown Song” at the Karl and Bob’s Taj Mahal. – Noel D

When visiting a museum shop in another state, you instantly recognize work from both Don and Leandra Drumm from across the room (and you know whose is whose without checking). – Allison C.

THE GOOD OL’ GOOD OLD DAYS

You’re so Akron if…

You remember the smell of the rubber factories in the 60s. – Jan Patetta

You walked to school and back with Wonder bread plastic packaging inside your boots. (And stopped at Forest Lodge to skate before going home.) – Janet Sattler

You danced on the tables at the Bucket Shop. – Tim M.

You danced on the walls at the Bucket Shop. – John Zofchak

You remember Scott’s Five & Dime’s Sloppy Joes. – Cyndi McVan Dicintio

You remember the Carousel Dinner Theater. – Dan Pavlovich

You remember Dr. Feel Goods & the Sun Lounge. – Willie J. Paige, Jr.

You dressed up to go school clothes shopping at O’Neils and Polsky’s downtown. – Jan Patetta

Your grandma still gives you Halle’s boxes for Christmas. – Lauren Brady

You saw Rock Hudson and Paul Anka at the cool downtown Soap Box Derby parades. – Jan Patetta

You attended high school football games at the Rubber Bowl. – Becca B.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE PEOPLE MEANT

You’re so Akron if…

Airdock, Rubber Bowl, Quaker Square, Thursdays, West Point Market, Indian Statue?

You don’t “live” somewhere, you “stay” there.

You used to drive past a building with a big bright red sign that says “BJ” and didn’t immediately think dirty thoughts.

You don’t even notice THAT smell in the Valley.

***CORRECTION: My apologies to the owner of that submission about THAT smell in the Valley. Someone later reminded me that there is a poop factory down there on whose smell I’ve often enough gagged that I should have known better. – Chris H.***

29 Responses

  1. Ronald W. McVan

    My sister’s comment got in and it has taken until now for me to think up a “you’re so Akron if…” you know what a Big Barney is.

    Reply
  2. Jay Pillo

    You’re so Akron if you know about “The East; Summit; Gala; Starlight: Blue Sky; Magic City”

    Reply
  3. Chris Freeman- Clark

    You’re so Akron if… You automatically go into ” defend and promote Akron” mode anytime you’re on vacation and someone innocently says ” where’s Akron?” You’re so Akron if you know Luigi’s is ” cash only” before you get the bill. If you remember the tall frosted steel mixing container that contained the other half of your milkshake at the Oak Room at downtown O’Neils.

    Reply
  4. Mike M

    You can identify most of the streets in the LeBron James Beats commercial (you can see one of the buildings in the video from the end of my parents driveway).

    If someone can’t decide between California and Florida you know they mean a drink, not where they’re going to relocate to.

    You went to high school with The Black Keys.

    Reply
  5. Doug O

    You call the University of Akron “Akron U”, you remember the big fight in Highland Square over putting in a Taco Bell (near where at Chipotle now sits), you can properly pronounce Buchtel, you delivered the Westside Leader as a paperboy, you drank $5 pitchers of warm Amber Boch at Annabell’s, you know the story of how Memorial Parkway got its name.

    Reply
  6. glenna hoskins seeley

    You’re so Akron if your father was a blimp rigger in the hangar at Goodyear Aircraft before it was called Aerospace.

    You’re so Akron if your parents retired from the Lawson Milk Co.

    Reply
  7. Elizabeth

    In reference to the BJ sign, Akron Beacon Journal had a big sign on top of their building that would spin with a giant B and J. We always used it when we were playing the alphabet game in the car.

    Reply
  8. Stefanie

    You’re so Akron if… you remember O’Neils and Polskys, their Christmas decorations, and Lou and Hys.

    Reply
  9. Ron Weaver

    Leonardo’s Pizza, Fiesta’s Chicken. Thacker’s burgers! Along with Swensons and Skyway ending with Stricklands!

    Reply
  10. Adam

    You know that Fairlawn shares a school system with Copley but utilities with Akron.

    Reply
  11. Adam

    Is there really another Buchtel HS in Ohio? Sportscasters from Cleveland always reference “Akron Buck tell”.

    Reply
    • Linda Van den Bsch

      OMG! I moved to Phoenix in 1978 and tried to get chop chop and people looked at me like I had three heads. I miss Lawson’s.
      Moving is HOW is discovered how wonderful and unique Akron is!

      Reply
      • Kara

        Lol. This happened to me in 2000 when I moved to Charlotte too! I had no idea that was a local thing. It took me forever to explain what I was expecting.

  12. Heather

    You mean “mustard, pickle, and onion” when you order “everything” on your burger.

    Reply
  13. Heather

    Your favorite teen hangout was the top of the old, abandoned B.F. Goodrich building.

    Reply
  14. Heather

    Your parents bought you your first beer while having lunch at Primo’s Deli.

    Reply
  15. Heather

    You consistently celebrated your Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day at the Lebanese-owned Tangier’s, then ended the day at the Italian-owned Luigi’s.

    Reply
  16. Heather

    The highlight of your elementary school days was stuffing candy in every hidden pocket before your big yearly field trip when you would walk across the street from Case to the planetarium at Firestone. (But then when you took astronomy in high school at Firestone, you never actually stepped foot inside the planetarium!)

    Reply
  17. Jay Spooney

    Your so Akron if you cant remember a time when Plusquellec wasnt the mayor

    Reply
  18. Kat

    you are so Akron if you know Country Kitchen on East Cuyahoga Falls Eva or work(ed) for Summa

    Reply
  19. Paddy Taylor

    You’re so Akron if you swum ( swam) in the canal under the Thornton St bridge
    as a kid, because your big brother threw you in after school at St Mary, in corduroy pants and oxford shoes. And it was only two feet deep and NEVER frozen with gold fish the size of footballs.

    Reply

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