Reminderville, Early Years

Incorporated in 1955, Reminderville has a unique and interesting history. Years prior to officially gaining its moniker and becoming a village, it was already known to some as Reminderville, almost assuredly due to the great number of Reminders who resided in the area. In fact, as far back as the 1940s, truck drivers referred to the area as Reminderville, one trucker passing the name along to another so he would not mistakenly attempt to deliver his cargo to Twinsburg. The Township’s residents redirected many confused truckers to the marshy region nicknamed Reminderville.

The secluded, swampy land offered peace and quiet for urbanites attempting to flee the hustle and bustle of city life. It was a favorable destination for fishing, hunting, and freedom from the rat race of city life.

According to Lee Barthelman, known by many as Reminderville’s local historian: “In 1955 there were fifty-six families that lived over on the eastern side of Reminderville, right on the border of Summit County. The only way to get to Reminderville or to that group was to go out to what was called Orchard Road which takes you out to Aurora Road, and from Aurora Road you can go wherever you want to.” This kept the fledgling village largely isolated from the outside world, including neighboring towns.

To make matters worse, at the outset the independence of the area was negatively impacted by its reliance on the fire department of its neighbor to the north, Aurora. With permission from Aurora, in 1952, Reminderville was able to start a volunteer branch of the Aurora Fire Department. This benefited the village twofold: it helped forge a measure of independence and provided the residents with heightened safety and security, as it had often taken the fire department far too long to arrive while an inferno incinerated all in its path. The first fire engine was donated by the Aurora Fire Department, an outdated model that soon would be replaced.

The first year-round settler in what is now Reminderville was Peter Grimm. Born in Breitenbuch, Germany, he came to Cleveland as a teenager in the early 1920s before settling in the northeastern corner of Summit County. If not for the sheer number of Reminders who migrated to the area shortly before Grimm, the village may have been named Grimmville.

The Reminders were the most prominent family in the village as well as major catalysts for its development. Probably the most important event in the evolution of Reminderville was the construction of Glenwood Drive. George Reminder, brother of the village’s first mayor, Clement Reminder, was extremely aggressive in pursuing the construction of the road that extended the dead end at Orchard Street off Route 43 through to Liberty Road to the west. In 1962, the road was completed, literally opening up new possibilities for Reminderville and its residents. Finally, there was easy access to the Township, Twinsburg, and the rest of Summit County and beyond.

George was known as the outspoken one who got things done, but it was Clement who was chosen as first mayor in April 1955. According to his nephew Charles Reminder, the thinking behind his nomination was “Uncle Clem was quiet, he’s smart and he wears a tie, so he can be mayor.” So the first mayor may have been selected because he was tight-lipped and had a propensity for sprucing himself up with neckwear. His mayoral reign lasted only a year, as he fell ill and had to step down from office.

National Spelling Bee, 1933

Little Alma Roach, of Twinsburg, not only participated in the 1933 National Spelling Bee but won it. George Meltzer of Hoboken, New Jersey, failed to spell “propitiatory”. Alma corrected him and clinched the win by spelling “torsion”.

Book of the Pageant

One of the highlights of Twinsburg’s Centennial was it’s pageant.  Billed as a history of a town, in dramatic form, for many it was the high point of the celebration.  The Independent, which was the newspaper of Northern Summit County in 1917, reported that many people “pronounced it the finest pageant they had ever seen.”

The production was so popular it was produced in Cleveland during the following month. It was directed my S. Gertrude Hadlow.

Twinsburg Centennial Book of the Pageant

 

First Trial by Jury

The first trial by jury in the history of the village of Twinsburg occurred on August 6, 1957. Presiding, was Mayor Alexander J. Day. The Prosecutor was Jerome W. Moss, and the attorney for the defense was Gerald Sims. Marie Switalsky had signed out a warrant for assault and battery against Albert Hock, Jr. The defendant, Hock Jr., was acquitted of all charges.

Forest City Erectors, Inc.

In the winter of 1958 Jim Mirgliotta, an ironworker at the time, was working on a high-level bridge that connects Cuyahoga Falls to Akron, when the improperly installed falsework holding up part of the arch behind him became unhinged, causing the structure to nearly collapse. This sort of occurrence was commonplace in the era before OSHAA regulated the construction business. Danger lurked at every corner, often with little guarantee of a steady paycheck.

Mr. Mirgliotta, who was stranded 180 feet in the air at the time of the collapse without any safety apparatus to impede his fall, miraculously suffered no injuries.  Following this near-death experience and tired of dealing with the instability and danger that comprise the life of an ironworker, Mirgliotta decided to start a company. So in 1959 with the help and advice of a good friend, he started Park Iron Erectors.

Just a short time later, in 1961, Mr. Mirgliotta and his wife Betty were able to purchase fifty percent of a struggling Cleveland-based steel erector company, Forest City Erectors. Prior to their purchase the business was a “sad affair” (Mirgliotta, 00:33:38). After buying out his partner in 1970, Jim sold fifty-one percent of Forest City Erectors to his wife Betty, thus qualifying it as a Woman owned, Female Business Enterprise (FBE). In 1980 the business was relocated to its current home in Twinsburg’s Industrial Park. A move that made great sense for the Mirgliotta’s who were among the first residents of Glenwood Acres when it opened in the 1950s.

Under the dual helm ship of Jim and Betty Mirgliotta the business prospered and is now one of the largest full service structural steel & construction material erection providers in the state of Ohio. They have been involved in the building and renovation of such Cleveland-area landmarks as First Energy Stadium, Cleveland Clinic, Medical Mart, and Cuyahoga County Hilton Hotel.

Twinsburg Little League

Twinsburg has always been very proud of it’s Little League Baseball program.  Ran by Franklin Hoon for many years, it has a reputation as one of the best run Little League programs in the area.  During the 1959 season the program was printed compliments of VFW 4929,

1959 Twinsburg Little League Schedule

Area Epidemics

The winter of 1903 was a particularly stressful one for families in the Twinsburg area. A rash of scarlet fever cases spread across the region, forcing schools to close indefinitely. Children, more susceptible to the illness, were kept home to prevent the disease from infecting their classmates. Prior to the development of penicillin, scarlet fever was a debilitating illness commonly affecting those age five to fifteen with sore throats, high fevers, and a scarlet rash. Healthy students were also forced to stay home in 1918 and 1920 due to the spread of flu, with many taken ill. Spanish flu was a global event that caused illness and in some cases death for half a billion people.

Community Theatre

For the vast majority of the three communities’ two hundred years of existence, there was a lack of local theater in the area. That all changed in December 1996, when the Twinsburg Youth Theatre debuted with a production of Babes in Toyland. First conceived in 1994 by Meredith Shreve, the youth theater started its transformation into a multigenerational community theater in 2001 after many adults approached Shreve with their desire to perform onstage. Before the 2001 production of Annie, adults only worked behind the scenes, building sets, dropping backgrounds, and so forth.

Shreve, originally from Cleveland, moved to Twinsburg in 1993; soon after her arrival she started serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission, in part due to her realization that there was no community theater. In particular, she recognized the importance of a theater program for children. According to Shreve, “Theater is a very great way for kids to have some activity and earn self-confidence and grow within themselves and express themselves.”

Thousands of adults and children have been involved in the community theater over the first twenty years of its existence. Almost all of whom have participated solely for their love of the arts and sense of community as there has never been any financial compensation. It is a nonprofit endeavor that pays for all the necessities in putting on a top-flight musical production via ticket sales, concessions, program sales, and fees paid by performers. All of these proceeds go toward funding expenditures such as royalties, rigging systems, choreographers, costumes, and other related requirements.

The productions have often been mounted on a grand scale, with as many as 120 people working on a single musical. World-renowned Hall Associates Flying FX supplied their exceptional effects for the flying sequences in Peter Pan.

One of the drawbacks to the community theater is that it is financed in part by a pay-to-perform platform, as all performers must pay a fee of fifty dollars to act in a production. This reduces the opportunity of underprivileged youths to participate in the community arts program. For those who have had the good fortune to participate in the community theater, it has brought great joy, a sense of achievement, and lifelong rewarding relationships with their fellow performers.

If there is any doubt as to the community theater’s positive effect on Twinsburg, it should be quelled by Mayor Katherine Procop’s statement that she couldn’t think of  anyone who has brought more joy to the community than Meredith Shreve, through her devotion to the theater.

Twinsburg Community Theatre commemorated its twentieth anniversary in 2016 with a musical revue, a first for the theater. The production celebrates twenty years of Broadway, including fan favorites Wicked, The Little Mermaid, and Phantom of the Opera.

Joshua Miktarian, Police Dept.

Violent crime is almost nonexistent in the three communities. According to statistics compiled by the FBI there were only ten violent crimes committed in Twinsburg in 2012 (the latest statistic compiled). This makes the tragic and senseless events of July 13, 2008, all the more startling and harrowing.

Around two a.m. on that fateful day, Officer Joshua T. Miktarian, a Twinsburg police officer of eleven years, pulled over motorist Ashford Thompson, who was playing music at a deafening decibel level and possibly driving under the influence. The incident transpired right in front of a home at 2454 Glenwood Drive, near Route 91. What must have initially seemed like a relatively routine traffic stop soon turned serious and deadly: mere minutes after Officer Miktarian radioed for backup, he was shot several times in the head by Thompson. Miktarian’s beloved canine compadre Bagio watched helpelessly, locked in the patrol car and unable to intervene in the absurd altercation. Less than an hour later Miktarian was pronounced dead at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Police Chief Chris Noga has referred to the slaying of Officer Miktarian as “the darkest day of my career.” Noga and Miktarian had started in the department within a week of each other and were close friends. Seeing a fellow officer slain is never easy, much less someone you’ve worked side by side with for eleven years.

According to Katherine Procop, mayor at the time of the murder: “It was absolutely devastating to the police force, and community. There is truly not a day that goes by I don’t think about Josh.” Such was the effect that Josh had during his too-brief tenure on this Earth. Sporting a mischievous grin, infectious sense of humor, and magnetic personality, the devoted husband and father was beloved by his fellow police officers and the community as a whole. “Josh was one of the few young persons who used to really respect the older guys . . . like myself,” said retired police officer Joe Jasany.

His interests and activities were varied, as illustrated by his ownership of a Gionino’s Pizza restaurant and his dual duties as guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Barium. He is survived by his wife Holly and their daughter Thea, only three months old at the time of the murder.

Thunder Chicken

In 1976, during the inaugural Twins Day Festival, a peculiar sight was observed: the only skydiving clown in the world, Thunder Chicken, hurled through the afternoon sky, safely landing on Twinsburg soil to the delight of all who were lucky enough to glimpse it. The man behind the greasepaint and guise of Thunder Chicken is Dallas Wittgenfeld, who improbably came up with the idea of a skydiving clown while serving in the army during the Vietnam War in 1969.

Wittgenfeld figured that Vietnamese orphans would never get the thrill of seeing an American clown, so he donned some makeup and deployed from an airplane high above the cheering throng. After the war he continued to delight children and adults alike with his skydiving chicanery at fairs, air shows and shopping center openings. His one-of-a-kind career was almost cut short in May of 1985 due to an arrest at Deland Municipal Airport (located in Central Florida) for flying while intoxicated.

Twinsburg Banking Company

Twinsburg’s first bank opened on November 11, 1912. On that morning it’s first president arrived to find a leading citizen, A.J. Brown waiting for him so he could have the honor of opening the first account at the bank for his grandson. J.C. Leland Brown. His account was still active when the Twinsburg Banking Company published the story of their first 50 years in 1962.

Twinsburg Banking Booklet Celebrating their 50th Anniversary from 1912-1962

Biker Gang Disturbance

The Twinsburg Village Police Department responded to a report of a disturbance at 9842 Chamberlin Road, about ten miles north of Akron, at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 18, 1967. When the police arrived at the abandoned picnic spot they were greeted with flying bottles, rocks, and screams of “Here come the cops” from the members of numerous motorcycle gangs partaking in a raucous party. Members of the Sundowners, Roaring Twenties, Grim Reapers, Red Raiders, and Misfits were among the culprits, many of whom sported long hair, black leather jackets, earrings, swastikas, and German-type helmets.

Guns, liquior, insgnia, and other apparel reside in the custody of Twinsburg Police following the arrest of dozens of gang members.

Guns, liquior, insgnia, and other apparel reside in the custody of Twinsburg Police following the arrest of dozens of gang members.

Police reinforcements arrived from Portage and Summit counties, including officers from Hudson Township, Twinsburg Township, Bedford, Macedonia, Solon, Stow, and Tallmadge. Many of the officers were equipped with riot guns, but luckily, and surprisingly, when the reinforcements arrived the bikers decided leave quietly. According to Police Chief Glenn Osborn, evidence confiscated included a .22 caliber pistol, a large assortment of knives, chains, blackjacks, and a swastika flag. Thirty-nine adults and five juveniles were arrested, with the adult perpetrators being taken to Summit County Jail, while the youngsters were turned over to the county’s detention center. Many of the officers on the scene expressed shock and dismay to find that a number of the bikers (including nine of the incarcerated) were female.

Salamander Run

“Twinsburg’s most popular outdoor nature adventure” is the salamander crossing, annually occurring in Center Valley Park. (Almost) every spring since the early 2000s the salamander migration has been documented by Stanley Stine, city of Twinsburg naturalist.

Belonging to the mole salamander family, the spotted salamander lives underground for the vast majority of the year, using holes dug by mice, chipmunks, and even crayfish to get away on a hot summer afternoons or hibernate for the winter. These intriguing, innovative amphibians emerge at the start of each spring scurrying to the same vernal pools in the Twinsburg wetlands to lay their eggs. Spotted salamanders, bespeckled with orangish-yellow spots, must lay their eggs in temporary pools as opposed to permanent bodies of water as the fish that occupy larger bodies of water would devour all the eggs and possibly the adult salamanders as well. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Stine this wondrous natural phenomenon has been witnessed by many residents who otherwise would have been unaware this annual event occurs in their hometown.

The Salamander and Frog Festival, an indoor event that Stine also initiated, precedes the salamander migration. Whereas the crossing adventure is geared towards people of all ages the Salamander and Frog Festival piques the interest and educates wee little ones via games, coloring contests and various other arts and crafts.

Babka’s

One of the most beloved and fondly remembered Twinsburg businesses is Babka’s Tavern. It was the place to go after meetings (be it city council or planning commission), softball games and just about any other event in town. Babka’s was the most popular watering hole in the three communities and was renowned for its flavorful hamburgers (many a towns-person referred to it as the best burger they ever tasted).  It was also home for the defunct local chapter of the American Legion.

According to Dusty Trimmer: “It was a Cheers bar, everybody knew everybody.” No one was a stranger or made to feel unwelcome. There was also at least one famous visitor to the bar in the 1970’s: Billy Martin, who was in town for a speaking engagement, paid a visit to Babka’s with Franklin Hoon. As was the custom for Mr. Martin he downed a vast quantity of alcoholic beverages that evening.

The beloved bar’s last evening of operation on August 5, 2000 was festive fraternization for the regulars of Babka’s. Sheridan Morgan, owner of the Brass Horn, stopped in to buy a round for every customer. So much alcohol was purchased and consumed the bar actually ran out of  intoxicants, prompting a number of patrons to purchase 12-packs and cases of beer from nearby stores to keep the festivities from prematurely ending. One prominent member of the community even rode his motorcycle up the front steps, through the bar and then out the fire escape.

Richner Hardware

Few men or women can boast a lifetime as long as that of the locally owned Richner Hardware. For most of the twentieth century, the little store stood as a brick-andmortar reminder that quaint towns could hold on to remnants of their past, even when facing competition from larger competitors. Richner’s was a fixture of Twinsburg: a place where you could rest assured you’d run into someone you knew.

Opened in 1919 by Charles Richner and his sons Edward and George, the small hardware store occupied a rather ordinary two-tone building, once the storefront for the Crouse Tin Shop. The store kept long hours, operating from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. all week. The old storefront received a facelift in the 1940s, with a red brick facade visible in photos and postcards of the era. The business proved a success and eventually found company in Lawson’s Ice Cream and Roseberry’s Department Store, both just east of the hardware store.

Courtesy of the Twinsburg Historical Society

Courtesy of the Twinsburg Historical Society

Eventually outgrowing its original location near the corner of Darrow and Ravenna roads, the store was replaced by a new structure in 1962. Decade after decade passed and the store changed hands within the family. Time would eventually necessitate the construction of a third building, but all things come to an end and Richner Hardware proved no match for the movement of time. Closing their doors after 95 ty-five years of family-owned and -operated service, Richner’s succumbed to competition from big-box stores and the diversity of goods for sale at nearly every grocer. When interviewed as part of the bicentennial celebrations, dozens of individuals recalled stories and memories of the little hardware store.

Motorcycle Collision

Two lives collided along the byways south of Twinsburg on an early morning in 1913. Two men unaware of one another, raced toward an arbitrary spot where their lives would end at 90mph. As they headed toward one another, William Thompson of Akron, and Frank Novak of Cleveland, collided. Blame was placed on Frank Novak and his faulty motorcycle. Having left that morning from Cleveland intending to participate in an endurance run to Youngstown, the young Mr. Novak soon began experiencing mechanical problems. A short break outside Twinsburg gave him time to look over the motorcycle and make a few quick adjustments.

Assuming he had corrected the issue, he jumped back on his motorcycle and took off, intent on catching up to his fellow riders. At the moment Mr. Novak lost control, his bike veered into Thompson; the force of the collision sent each man flying from his machine. According to news reports, “Thompson was found by Mrs. Hoff unconscious and bleeding from a dozen wounds. Novak had retained consciousness, but was unable to speak.”

Residents in the vicinity of the collision reached Dr. R.B. Chamberlain by phone. He wasted little time, making it to the two men as quickly as possible. Thompson died quickly. Novak held on a bit longer, dying en route to the hospital.

Locust Grove Cemetery

Amidst the locust trees that canopy these burial grounds reside the final resting places of many prominent locals and founders. Weathered headstones of granite, sandstone, and embrittled metal dot the rolling hillside, recording biographical information, epitaphs, and the last messages of individuals including Reverend Samuel Bissell, Ethan Alling, and both Wilcox twins: a veritable who’s who of Twinsburg royalty.

The sandstone vault standing sentry at the entrance was born out of necessity, as the earth proved too difficult to hollow during the winter for the recently deceased. Bodies would lie there in waiting until the biting cold of winter receded and the ground thawed. Eventually, the need it once served waned, and it took on a more historic role in the community. In 1997, the edifice and its 138 tons of locally quarried stone were shifted to make way for land redevelopment, squeezing and confining the hallowed grounds to their current configuration.

Photo courtesy of Kieth A. Peppers

Photo courtesy of Kieth A. Peppers

As for the rest of the cemetery, Locust Grove has played host to activities including historical reenactments portraying prominent figures from the past. As autumn approaches and the leaves change, local reenactors converge on the site once again to the delight of spectators as they provide lantern-lit tours, weaving well-known stories for the groups wandering among the gravestones.

Courtesy of Kieth A. Peppers

Courtesy of Kieth A. Peppers