An in-depth look at the stories and events that shape our community
A long dining table during lunch time in a Highland Square home is invitingly set with with a big bowl of mixed greens in the center. A heaping plate of freshly grilled chicken and other salad toppings in bowls of shredded cheeses, olives, vegetables and dressings surround it, along with hearty, grain breads and fruity preserves.
Evelyn “Evey” Williams says a blessing while five of her nine children and her husband Michael bow their heads. The table conversation is at first a low whirr, like an airliner idling on a tarmac. But then, after bread is broken, it takes off full throttle down the runway, with laughter, shrieks and gentle ribbing among siblings.
With Mother’s Day approaching, the Williams household recently spent time sharing what’s it’s like to be a part of a large family whose mom wears enough hats to make a milliner blush.
Expressive Therapy Center promotes holistic healing through the arts, hosts open house May 22
The little girl slowly walks up to the table wearing a hospital gown and a princess tiara, her IV bag and pole close behind her. At the table, children are making colorful shapes with modeling clay and cookie cutters, and nearby, dollops of paint on paper plates stand vigil around tiny easels. The children are smiling, as if they’ve forgotten that they’re in the middle of a hospital, or at least pushed this fact to the back of their minds for now as they work with an art therapist.
The Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center at Akron Children’s Hospital is a place of healing, where visual art and music converge as therapy for these young patients. The two-year-old center -- adorned with vibrant calming colors, mosaics depicting characters from nursery rhymes and skylights that fill the room with natural light -- is a relatively new concept in the patient experience but one that hospital staff, administration and patients can hang their hat on as an effective method of treatment.
“The connection between arts and biology is there,” says Dr. Sarah Friebert, director of pediatric palliative care at Akron Children’s Hospital, and the driving force behind establishment of the Expressive Therapy Center. “There are a number of studies out there that show there is actual connection with the immune system and how well we fight infection when we’re relaxed, when we’re engaged in something that’s tapping into our creativity. We see it in terms of reduced anxiety, reduced pain, increased ability to cope and increased feelings of self-efficacy for children and families. And that’s particularly important for children who have a chronic disease and who are very ill, who are out of control of what’s happening to them most of the time.”
April 9 presentation offers tips for owning your own flock
Owning backyard chickens has picked up in popularity, for health benefits and keeping food supplies local, among other advantages. Akron area residents interested in owning their own small flock are encouraged to attend Countryside Conservancy’s “Backyard Chickens – Getting Started,” April 9 at Stone Cottage Farm and Garden, 2580 Northampton Road, in Cuyahoga Falls. The program is $25 per person and begins at 6 p.m.
“The class is really geared toward the backyard flock, with five or six chickens,” said Katie Griffith, program manager for Countryside Conservancy, which supports local farmers and advocates community-based agriculture. “Participants will learn how to raise chickens from a day-old peep to an egg-laying hen. We’ll talk about nutritional needs, housing needs and exercise needs, along with how to identify some common diseases or illnesses in poultry and how to keep them safe from those diseases and predators.”
Organic, free-range eggs are much healthier than store bought eggs, according to a number of online resources like www.backyardchickens.com. These eggs also taste better and are lower in cholesterol and saturated fat and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E, the forum adds.
Progress typically implies a positive, that something is advancing, improving, such as in retail. And whether good or bad, the big-box stores are certainly witness to that.
There's more selection, more space to shop, weekly sales. But the flip side is that mom-and-pop stores catering to the same customers were undone by such progress.
But whether you like them or not, can you walk into any big-box hardware store and play an old upright piano, be greeted by two cats, a three-legged boy named Stumpy or his sister, Stella, or have a treasured old lamp rewired? Probably not.
You can, however, tickle the ivories, stroke the kitties and have that precious lamp salvaged at West Hill Hardware, Akron's oldest hardware institution established in 1930.
At Highland Square's java haunt, Angel Falls Coffee Company, you've probably seen him. Chances are, you likely know him. And if you don't know him you will at some point.
Say "hello" to Jerry Raker. Unless he says "hey" first. And that's more than likely.
"I'm just naturally social, not afraid of crowds or talking to people," says Raker, a 31-year Akron resident who grew up in Wadsworth.
Raker says the cafe "is my home away from home." It's also where he has cultivated a generous array of friendships and acquaintances. He's been referred to as the "unofficial mayor of Highland Square."
I met Raker in December 2011, when I was jockeying with my laptop for the day's password at Angel Falls' counter. He approached me with the password and said, "I just wanted to talk with you."
Back in the early 1940s, Leo Walter's grandmother came to live with his family, bringing along some of her furniture. Walter took on a refinishing project with some of those pieces. He found he had an affinity for restoring older furnishings, and eventually he started buying and reselling other furniture.
However, it didn't stop at furniture because along the way he began collecting four-by-six photographs used by people to document their travel: postcards.
And there would be more items. Lots.
There's likely lots of ways a child could earn pocket money, maybe babysitting, spring cleaning or cutting the grass for the folks.
But as a girl, Leianne Neff Heppner had a different gig, slightly out of the ordinary, but one that made sense at the time.
"He gave me a quarter to dust each coffin," said Heppner of her father, a former mortician who used a converted three-story flourmill to house his mortuary business.
Heppner smiled at the memory and adds her dusting days were short-lived after "I told my fifth-grade teacher, and then no more. Dad was embarrassed I shared that with anybody."
With a warm smile one early morning backed by wind and drizzle — thanks to remnants of Hurricane Sandy — Jonathan Morschl slipped into the Angel Falls Cafe and took a seat at the popular hangout.
A resident of Highland Square, Morschl was a recipient of the 2012 "30 For the Future" awards, sponsored by the Greater Akron Chamber. The annual event recognizes outstanding young professionals between the ages of 25 and 39 in the region who have made notable contributions to the community in and outside of the workplace.
"I was definitely happy, but it was more impressive to be included with past recipients," Morschl said. "These people have done a lot of good for Akron and in a short amount of time."
The sign at the Highland Square Barber Shop may state customers can line up for a hair cut beginning at 10:30 a.m., but sometimes "I may not get here until a quarter till," said owner Mike Altomare.
That's okay, because although the shop closes at 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Altomare was still working at 4 p.m. one weekend to accommodate customers who arrived before that time to a crowded waiting area.
It's that kind of service folks have come to expect from their barber, who hung his shingle at 12 S. Highland Avenue 40 years ago back in 1972. He bought the business from a friend, who had the shop where Walgreens is now located next to the Highland Theater.
OK, be honest, when you think of places to get body art, the last name one might expect is Good Life Tattoos & Piercings in Highland Square. An habitué of such places might even think twice.
But Good Life co-owner Jeremiah Currier says when he and business partner and tattoo artist, Jesse Strother, were coming up with a name (formerly Akron Ink), they wanted to create one that was "inviting, positive ... that all you have to do is add tattoos and piercings at the end of it and know what we are."
Some back story: Strother has the name tattooed on his knuckles. Readers likely would acknowledge inked bodies and piercings have become far more mainstream. Tattoos aren't just for the bad boy straddling a Hog without wearing a helmet while ripping down I-77, nor are piercings only adorning those crazed killers chasing bad-acting teenagers in direct-to-DVD movies.
Far from it.
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- Dave Lieberth's favorite places, Part III
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- Homes and the arts combine for UA's Arts-in-Residence Series
- PAWSibilities hosts 2013 Bark in the Park