Guide's 5-star list) served as the bully pulpit, earthy gridiron textbook and proud recruiting site for the late Eddie Niam, hometown football scout and Gerrie's combative but usually lovable husband.
But as Eddie held forth on his incisive wisdom on Las Vegas point spreads, an area high school halfback's chances of donning a Notre Dame uniform, or angry doubts about an official's game-changing decision in a game played eons ago, it was Gerrie who nobly tried to maintain a near-normal restaurant business from a cramped grille behind the counter.
Her days were tortuously long - down to the restaurant by 5 a.m. to prepare for the breakfast patrons, on her feet for endless hours, managing the menu for the next day, and carefully trying to make her offerings - from hot dishes to hamburgers and salads - tasteful for all. Much of the time, she was forced to ignore Eddie's booth-hopping to diagram the plays that Notre Dame drew up to defeat a powerful rival the past week end.
Notre Dame? For Eddie, it was the natural progression of loyalty to his former high school buddy, Ara Parseghian, from Northwestern coach to the Fighting Irish, which, from birth, neither Ara nor Eddie ever were. No matter. The clientele soaked up the lore seated underneath Notre Dame game balls and posters and other reminders of Eddie's solid dedication to a campus that he had never attended as a student. The audience included cops, dentists, businessmen, jocks, urologists, journalists and even some Amish folks who did their best to ignore the special ambiance of the place.
In Gerrie's life, not enough attention was accorded her as the sturdy enabler of Eddie's treasured role in the restaurant. She accepted it as her unyielding duty to keep the doors open and the grille hot. And I had the feeling that she proudly found reasons to suffer it as business as usual. She did not take vacations and only once did she join Eddie on a a trip to a post-season bowl in Texas, where he, a collector of everything, brought back a huge sombrero and respectfully tacked it on the wall of their home amid the clutter of his other memorabilia.
She even resorted to some pained humor in their existence. "Funny," she once told me, "that Eddie can remember the score of a particular football game, but can't remember my birthday."
No matter, Gerrie. This piece is how I fondly remember an Akron institution that belongs in any historical account of noteworthy Akron families that offered the old rubber town a unique dimension. Now rest in peace.