Name: Claire Meneer
Location: Washington D.C.
Occupation: Office Manager at West Wing Writers
Hometown (if Akron, which part?): Fairlawn
What do you think it is about Akron that makes its native born so proud to claim it, even when they move hundreds of miles away?
I remember reading, “The Hard Way on Purpose,” by David Giffels. In it, Giffels talks about patterns of hope and loss, saying, “neither of these things – hope and loss – can exist without the other, and yet at every turn it is necessary to believe that at some point one will ultimately conquer. And that will be our legacy.”
Many of us who are born and raised in Akron come from families that either immigrated to the area in search for the “American dream”, worked long hours in the rubber factories, or owned a small family business – these are people who know all about hope and loss.
They believed, too, that one would ultimately conquer. For Akronites, it’s hope that conquers. But it’s loss that taught us to endure, to lean on one another, to draw strength from a sense of community — a sense that has become so deeply ingrained, that Akron is completely inseparable from who we are. It is so much a part of us that we can’t help but to be proud and wear it like a badge of honor.
That’s why you see so many successful people from Akron go out and make their mark on the world and then come back. Whether it’s LeBron going to Miami or someone like me going to DC, that legacy of hope and the strength of loss, always draws us back.
If you could take anything from Akron to where you’re living now, what would it be?
I know that everyone reading this right now, immediately thought…Swensons. And they would be correct! We have Shake Shak here, which people on the East Coast LOVE — but honestly, my heart just breaks for them because they’ve never taken a bite out of a Galley Boy.
If you could transplant anything to Akron from where you’re living now, what would it be?
This is a tough question, so I’m going to make it a little easier. If there was one thing I would miss most about DC, it’s the scenery. Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by history, and watching the sunset over the Capitol is one of the most spectacular things you’ll ever see.
You’re not just an Akron ex-pat, you’re like a super fan, volunteering with a group in DC called “The Ohio Society.” What are those get-togethers like? How was it getting to watch the Finals with other Cavs fans from Ohio?
I became a member of the Ohio Society as soon as I moved here over two years ago, and this past January I joined the Board as Director of Social Events. The events include Browns/Bengals watch parties, Happy Hours, and even an Ohio Birthday party. It’s a lot of drinking, eating, and making friends with strangers – pretty much every native Ohioan’s dream.
When the Cavs won Game 5, I sort of selfishly used my position to create an event and send to our network so that I could watch the game with a few other fans. With it being such late notice, I really wasn’t expecting a big turnout…and I was so, so wrong. In true NEO Ohio fashion, the fans showed up. For Game 6 we had over 70 people in attendance, and for Game 7 the ENTIRE place was a sea of wine and gold. The local news came, the bar had to call for back-up staff, and by the end of the night I think I had hugged everyone there. In my heart, I had a feeling that would happen — whether we all ended the night crying tears of joy or tears of sorrow, I knew that we would all come together – it was magical.
When you visit home, where are your “must visit” places around town? What tops your itinerary?
My love of pancakes and coffee takes priority right after spending time with family, so Akron Family Restaurant is definitely one of my favorite places (best pancakes!). Since my time is limited and I want to stay as up to date as possible, I love to check out all of the new places that have opened. Last month I went to Northside Speakeasy and it was amazing! We have similar concepts in DC that are hugely successful, so it was really neat to see something like that in Akron.
What’s your favorite Akron story or Akron trivia to share with folks when you’re trying to explain where you’re from?
I usually don’t need to explain to people where I’m from, since my office décor makes it pretty clear… See picture below.
But a lot of people don’t know that Akron is know as the “City of Innovation!”, so I usually just end up obnoxiously rattling off the very long list of things/people that we can all thank Akron for: tires, The Black Keys, Alcoholics Anonymous, Clark Gable, the National Hamburger Festival, oatmeal, the Wright brothers, the Goodyear Blimp, and last but certainly not least, LeBron James.