I’m in Akron tonight for a memorial service tomorrow for Aunt Bebe. It’s a sad occasion that brings me and other members of the Webner family here, but it’s also nice to be back in the city of my birth.
When I was young, everyone on both sides of my family, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, Webners and Neals alike, lived in Akron. It was the center of my little-boy universe. My first memories are of this place. It’s where UJ and I first walked to school and where the kids in our family played silly childhood games. It’s where I learned how to bowl, and made my first friends, and acquired my lifelong allegiance to Cleveland sports teams.
Although we moved away more than 40 years ago and the number of family members who live here keeps dropping, I still feel a very strong connection to this city. Childhood memories are powerful and lasting, and it takes only a drive past a landmark — like the Summit Mall in Fairlawn — to awaken them and bring them surging back. I’ll be thinking about old times a lot over the next few days.