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Rubber worker stories sought in Akron oral history project

February 3, 2020 GMT

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A group helping commemorate an Ohio city’s role in the rubber industry is asking workers and their descendants to share their stories as part of an oral history project.

Akron Stories has scheduled more than a dozen recording sessions across Summit County this spring, but has already collected some audio files, cleveland.com reported recently.

The files will be archived with the Akron-Summit County Public Library and made available online. Excerpts will be featured on an interactive, audio/visual kiosk across from the 12-foot bronze sculpture of a rubber worker to be erected in the center of a newly redeveloped roundabout in downtown Akron. The statue of the worker holding a finished tire is by sculptor Alan Cottrill. It will stand on a three-tier base with one level in the shape of Akron and another in the shape of Summit County.

“This is our opportunity to celebrate the people who made Akron the Rubber Capital of the World,” said Mac Love, leader of the Akron Stories project. “We want to help visitors and residents learn about Akron’s unique history, how it shapes our identity and how it is driving our future.”

Miriam Ray, an Akron resident who has spearheaded the project since 2016, commissioned Cottrill to create a prototype of the statue in 2017. She said sharing personal anecdotes about Akron’s rubber history is just as important as the statue.

“From the very beginning, I asked people for their stories, and quickly realized they were as important as the rubber worker statue itself,” Ray said. “We are three generations removed from these workers and it is so important that future generations get to know them.”