For decades, when you slid into a booth at a diner or a local coffee shop, the waitress probably arrived with a standard-issue, off-white mug. More than likely that mug came from the Ohio River town of East Liverpool, which calls itself "The Pottery Capital of the Nation."
A lot of that city's pottery business is long gone. Now, one of the few remaining pottery factories in the battered town is pinning its survival on a major corporation.
To step inside American Mug and Stein in East Liverpool is to step into another era.
Almost 11 years ago, Phil Alexander opened his company, BrandMuscle, in the affluent Cleveland suburb of Beachwood.
The company sells marketing software to corporate clients worldwide, and its offices have a lean, energetic vibe, with 20-somethings tossing around ideas in multiscreened meeting rooms or a comfortable coffee bar.
The American Dream is a crucial thread in this country's tapestry, woven through politics, music and culture.
Though the phrase has different meanings to different people, it suggests an underlying belief that hard work pays off and that the next generation will have a better life than the previous generation.
But three years after the worst recession in almost a century, the American Dream now feels in jeopardy to many.
The town of Lorain, Ohio, used to embody this dream. It was a place where you could get a good job, raise a family and comfortably retire.