The Goodyear Blimp is an icon for the Rubber City. Frequently, throughout the year the Goodyear Blimp will take flight and pass over our house (it drives our dog nuts when he's in the backyard with me - he jumps and barks at it). As you know, Goodyear Blimps also spend much time hovering over nationwide sporting events.
The blimps' primary construction, storage and launching site is at Wingfoot Lake in Suffield Township by Akron, Ohio. However, they also frequently launch near the Lockheed-Martin complex and Akron Airport on the southeast side of Akron. To my knowledge, one blimp, the Spirit of Goodyear, is currently located at Wingfoot Lake and two additional blimps are located at Rodondo Beach, California and Pompano Beach, Florida.
The first Goodyear Blimp was built in 1925 and was a symbol of Goodyear Tire's prominence. Since then the company has gone on to build over 300 airships to serve a myriad of purposes, including in times of war.
If you are visiting Akron keep your eyes to the sky and you may just never know, you might catch a close-up view of a Goodyear Blimp.
Disclaimer: I was informed that this version of the story, "my version", is inaccurate. A "true" version, following this one, was emailed to me and posted almost verbatim. I personally prefer my revisionist history version, but judge for yeself.
It looks like your average old smokestack, something not at all out of place in Ohio; however, if you ask the locals, young or old, what the tall tower is in Cuyahoga Falls they will reply without hesitation "Rex's Erection". It seems that everybody knows the tower and the rather colorful nickname for it.
Being a Northeast Ohio transplant, I was told the story by my wife. It seems that a couple decades ago, two competing local ministers named Ernest Angeley and Rex Humbard began duking it out over their kingdom on earth. Ernest started his "Cathedral Buffet and Jesus Wax Museum" right next to his church. I kid you not.
From what I am told, you can go to the buffet restaurant (which has extremely red, the reddest you've ever seen, carpet throughout) and afterward take a tour of the "Jesus Wax Museum", which is located in the basement.
I have never been to the "Jesus Wax Museum" due to the fact that I have a terrible and paralyzing phobia of buffets. You know what they say however, "If you've seen one Jesus Wax Museum you've seen them all". Ain't that the truth!
Anyway, I digress. From what I have been told, Rex Humbard, in his desparate attempt to keep up with the Angeley's, decided to build a great tower stretching into the sky similar to Seattle's Space Needle. It would house a multitude of officespace and at its apex have a gourmet restaurant. It would be a crowning achievement to both Akron and Rex - I'm not sure where God was supposed to fit in!
Alas. Rex went bankrupt. The tower sits empty.
I am not sure what the moral of this story is other than the fact that Ernest's ministry and buffet continue to do quite well from what I'm told.
Ernest Angley and Rex Humbard were never in competition with each other.Both had large, thriving churches. The properties on State Rd. where the tower sits were all originally part of Rex Humbard's media empire. Rex was one of the first successful TV evangelists in America. His program was once carried on 600 stations and around the world. He was featured in TIME magazine and several oher national news outlets. He was almost a household name back then - seriously. The church from which his programs were telecast was called the Cathedral of Tomorrow. Rex then built the Cathedral Buffet, TV studios, the Cathedral Apartments (the large circular building near the tower), and finally, the controversial tower. His empire also included a girdle factory in Brooklyn, a high rise office building in downtown Akron, and a college in Michigan. The tower was to be the largest building in Ohio with a revolving restaurant on top. Humbard, who was constantly in one financial crunch after another, was offered a 16 million dollar loan from an area bank for the project - but only if he put all of his holdings, including the Cathedral of Tomorrow church itself, up as collateral. Humbard after listening to advice from disgruntled church members and other counsel, decided not to gamble and possibly lose the church if he defaulted on the loan. So, the plans were abandoned and only 560 feet of the originally planned 720 were completed. Humbard faced competition from new TV evangelists in the 70's and 80's and began losing his base.
The Cathedral of Tomorrow's membership and attendance began to decline during this period. Rex knew that it was time to go. He moved his TV show to Georgia, and left the Cathedral of Tommorow in the hands of his brother in law, Wayne Jones. After Wayne retired, the church tried pastor after pastor, but could not find a good fit. Membership dwindled. The Humbards were invited back in the late 80's to try and salvage the church, but it was too far gone. The entire complex was sold to Ernest Angley Ministries.
TWO OF THE MOST FAMOUSE PEOPLE IN ROCK AND ROLL CAME FROM AKRON. NEAL SMITH AND GLEN BUXTON. NEAL PLAYED DRUMS FOR ALICE COOPER AND MY VERY SPECIAL BROTHER, GLEN, PLAYED LEAD GUITAR. WITHOUT A DOUBT! THESE ARE THE TWO MOST FAMOUS ROCKERS FROM AKRON!
Just to add to the correction concerning the concrete tower. It is owned by Krieger Communications and is used as a cell phone transmission tower. It was never owned by Ernest Angley, as he only purchased the church and office complex nearby. And, reportedly, Rex Humbard actually did have the funds to finish the tower with a restaurant on top, but decided to use the funds for radio broadcasting in South America when the opportunity was given to him to spread Christianity throughout that region.
On a side note, the Cathedral Buffet that is nearby is one of the better buffets in the Akron area. I was quite suprised when I ate there and had there sweet and sour chicken over rice. It was excellent. When I inquired about it, they told me they have a Japanese chef, besides the other American chefs. I should write a review in the restaurant section for Akron.