Don Drumm

Don Drumm
The Life and Legacy of Don Drumm

By: Jessica Hill | The Devil Strip

Don Drumm heads to his studios every morning around 9 a.m. dressed in his usual outfit — blue jeans smudged with grease and paint, a button-up jean shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black suspenders and black velcro shoes. A clear nylon washer sticks out from his shirt to keep a button in place. Several different pens poke out of his right shirt pocket, and keys dangle from his jeans and clink as he walks up the gravel path.

Don Drumm sun
A silver aluminum piece with Don Drumm’s signature sun/moon face was made special for METRO.

His workshop is across the street from his galleries on Crouse Street in Akron. The Don Drumm Studios and Gallery stand out with the pastel pinks and purples of the eight houses.

He pushes open a gate with a “Beware of Dog” sign and walks to the door of his office, a pink house with purple trim. A long coffee stain zigzags down the gravel driveway next to the house as a result of a recent experiment, when he emptied an old pot and wanted to see how long the coffee trail could last.

After turning the radio to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” he sits down in his workshop to work on his current project — small metallic sculptures inspired by ziggurats, ancient stone structures from Mesopotamia.

Continue reading Don’s story on The Devil Strip.



img_0569“I used to answer phones for METRO. I helped out temporarily for a few months. I had the bus routes memorized and everything well before that!

“I’ve been riding the bus for over 50 years since I was little. Growing up, I would ride with my grandmother and my mother. We used to go down to First Federal Bank to pay our house bill and we would stop at a place called Scott’s Store on the way back. It used to be where the baseball stadium is now.

“I’m good friends with the bus drivers, too. Are you working hard?” Richard teased Op. Matt who was passing through the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center.

“I ride the #1 & #2, #3 & #6, the #9 & #30. I remember one time I was riding with Op. Ruth up to Rolling Acres and there was a pregnant woman on the bus — who was due in two weeks — but went into labor right there on the bus. The operator stopped the bus and the woman had her baby in the paramedic!”


img_3543“My husband and I are celebrating 28 years of marriage. We’ve been together for 33 years … since we were 18. He would come see me everyday when I worked at the Burger King on Vernon Odom. That’s where I first met him.

“I’ve been riding the bus since I was 14. I would take the bus to school on the other side of town and back. The bus drivers are so nice and have great personalities. They pay attention to where we get off and always check on us if we’re sleeping or something, ha, so we don’t miss our stop.”


Michael Smith“I was a junior in high school when I joined the United States Navy through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) in April 1992. I left for boot camp on November 1, 1993. I was in for eight years — my end date was May 26, 2001. I did five years active and three years reserve. My job was in engineering. We worked on potable water, diesel engines, and took readings on nuclear reactors on the USS Kiddy Hawk.

“I’ve been everywhere … Dubai; Bahrain; we were the last ship to go through the Panama Canal; Thailand; Hong Kong; Singapore; Perth and Sydney, Australia; Hawaii about a thousand times; the Bahamas; and Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan.

Michael was on board the USS Cape Cod AD-43 from January 1994-1995 in San Diego, Calif.

“For boot camp, I went to Great Lakes, Ill. from November 1993 to January 1994. Then from January 1994 to 1995, I went to 32nd Street in San Diego, Calif. Naval Station on board the USS Cape Cod AD-43. There I was a MMFN — a Machinist’s Mates Fireman. From ’95 to ’96 I was stationed at Point Loma on board TWR Narwhal 842 for the 11th Squadron and I became a MM3 a Machinist’s Mates 3rd Class. Then I got into the USS Kiddy Hawk in Coronado, Calif. from ’97-’98. I went to the Reserves in ’98 and became a NMCB-1323 through May 26, 2001. I got out because my mother got sick, otherwise I would’ve stayed in.”

Michael joined the METRO team in 2007 as a Bus Operator and now works as a Road Supervisor/Dispatcher. Growing up, Michael knew joining the armed forces was the path he wanted to take.

“My whole family was pretty much military. My grandfather was in the U.S. Army and I had a cousin who was the Senior Chief in the Navy … he actually flew me to Pensacola to show me how everything ran before I enlisted. I was there for about two months. I found it interesting and that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

Michael Smith, U.S. Navy 1992-2001

“Being in the military made me who I am today — a good husband, a good father to my kids, and a good grandfather to my grandkids. It prepared me for real life and the job I have now. Being a leader. And, I’m a coach so it showed me how to have patience and to be a leader to the younger ones.

“Every Veteran’s Day, my wife makes me a steak with salad and a loaded baked potato. So, Sunday when I get off there will be a steak waiting for me. I get off (work) at 6 p.m. Monday so I’ll be able to go get my free meal.”


“I’m a single mom of two toddlers. I rode the RTD bus for nine years when I lived in Colorado and I’ve been riding in Akron for almost five years now. It’s a great service and it’s super convenient. When I went to Stark State I used to take SARTA (Stark Area Regional Transit Authority).

“I spend about 80 hours traveling a month — I take my kids to school then go to Cuyahoga Falls for work. I take the bus to go grocery shopping, too. It’s a lot (of hours), but you do what you gotta do.”

Operator Jacobs

Lavar Jacobs - NJO“This is my way of giving back to women battling breast cancer. I have events year-round, I assist families dealing with hardships, and provide services free of charge to women such as lawn care, snow removal, house cleaning, and getting wigs. Anything a woman may need, if she contacts me, I find a local entrepreneur to fulfill the service.”

Not Just October is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded by METRO Operator Lavar Jacobs to expand the knowledge and resources available to breast cancer patients, survivors, and their supporters.

Operator Jacobs founded the organization in memory of his mother, Kim, who passed away in 2009 from breast cancer. His vision is to change the way our communities think and talk about breast cancer and continue to stress the importance of regular health screenings.

“I’ve been doing this for four years now. I get a lot of support. Everyone enjoys what I do.

“I’m sure my mom’s happy. I’ve helped three women who have passed away from breast cancer and I picture them all up there talking about me and Not Just October.”

For more information about Not Just October, visit

“We Declare War on Breast Cancer. That’s my motto.”

J.E.T Swade

#Blakron | Tales of the City

By: John Dayo-Aliya | The Devil Strip

The Downtown METRO Transit Center buzzes with kinetic energy at night. The faces of folks spanning the entire spectrums of race and sobriety crowd inside the small building. These faces suggest many stories: stories of adolescent mischief, hard work, and bleak realities — it’s the kind of place an artist could go to have a field day.

Standing in the middle of the transit center, having his photo taken for this article, Akron rapper/producer J.E.T Swade, 22, is taking it all in.

“This is where the people are. Real people. This is kind of like school for me. I was homeschooled most of my life so the transit is kind of like the school of the streets for me.”

Continue reading J.E.T’s story here.