Thirty years ago, driven by the excitement of the playoff-bound 1986 Cleveland Browns, my family decided to organize a football game the morning of Thanksgiving. I was stoked and suited up in my best Browns attire.
Our inaugural game took place at Herbrich Elementary School on Smith Road. There were only a few of us, and half of us weren't even teenagers yet but that game marked the beginning of a Thanksgiving Day tradition.
Over the years, there were changes. In the ‘90s, we moved the annual game to a spacious field complete with a pond and geese turds. New players joined our game for a few seasons, then left. Many retired, replaced by a younger generation. In fact, only two original players still take to the field, and they’re the oldest now, each in his 40s--I'm one of them. It takes longer to recover from the tackling, sprinting and juking maneuvers now, but the post-play pains aren't enough to pull me to the sidelines with the other retirees.
When I moved back to Akron and onto Delia Avenue in 2004, I changed the game’s location to Schneider Park. It's open and flat, perfect for sports, as is evident by the many little league soccer matches that take place here.
Schneider has a welcoming neighborhood feel, surrounded by lovely homes and towering church steeples. The park is named for Philip Schneider who developed what was, in the early part of the 20th century, the subdivision of Sunset View.
Schneider’s houses appeared only after the old Summit County Infirmary moved to Munroe Falls. The infirmary’s main building sat at the corner of Exchange St. and Rose Blvd.
On the property of the infirmary was a potter’s field, where an unknown number of bodies from the infirmary were buried. Ominously, I only learned recently that Schneider Park stands over this field today, and that what was once a graveyard is now one of the end zones for our Thanksgiving Football game.
Were all the bodies removed when the city relocated the infirmary? Perhaps not.
There are currently efforts to recognize these lost souls, to identify them by name, to give them the respect they and their relatives deserve.
Should what was once a final resting place for many be marked at Schneider Park? A plaque? A fence? Something to complement the beautiful neighborhood.
And as for our 30th anniversary Thanksgiving game, there’s a dozen or so boys getting excited to start their Thanksgiving Day with a rumble on the football field. I, specifically, am looking forward to a fourth down stop, a hard-nose run up the middle, and that one jarring collision that saves a touchdown.
Working Class Vegan Man
Vegan guy who likes sports, beer, and eating healthy.
He's no dummy either. He's got 3 degrees, including a master of arts in international relations. Formerly head grillbilly for the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team (and formerly 50 lbs heavier), he's on a mission to de-sissify eating healthy.