Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Love Chagrin Falls Too

'It’s easy to see why visitors to downtown Chagrin Falls might think they’re in the middle of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s back lot half a century or so ago: This village ––located just 18 miles southeast of Cleveland –– embodies small-town Americana, reminiscent of those whimsical Andy Hardy films of the 1940s. It’s no stretch to imagine Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney window-shopping on Main Street or sipping a soda (today, it would be a smoothie) at Ben & Jerry’s or munching on caramel crunch from the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop.'
--from a recent article in Ohio Magazine.


At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, John, but it's too Disneyesque perfect for me. Too overachieving. Too Pleasantville. Give me Shaker Square any day.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I hear you, Mike. I used to like Shaker Square a lot more, back when there weren't empty storefronts for years at a time, and when they weren't reduced to replacing bookstores with CVS drug stores (egad). For me, all of that has really sapped the soul of the place, and it's been further hurt by having one reasonably priced restaurant leave (Luchita's) while two very upscale and high-priced places have moved in (Fire and Sarava). If not for Jonathan Forman having saved the theatre--the real soul of the place now--it would be a near-total loss, for me, at least.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I should add that the loss of Luchita's has had the pleasing effect of turning me on to a Shaker Square restaurant that I had never tried before, but which I now count as a favorite, Ballaton's. It's probably about halfway between moderately- and high-priced.

At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my grandfather was a young, his brothers were notorious Chagrin Falls troublemakers. They once stole all the ice cream from the party for the graduating high school seniors, took it up to the cemetery, and gorged themselves on it. There was a cop named Spooner who came up to the cemetery to look for them, and they took off in their car, never turning on the engine. Because of the hills, they were able to coast all the way home and pulled in the garage and were innocently busy at home when Spooner came to see if they might know how all the ice cream ended up at the cemetery. No one heard when they got home. Guess those were the days before CSI.

Grandpa's brothers also assembled a car on the roof of the school. The principal never did figure out who did it, or how they got it there.

I think Andy Hardy would have had a good laugh. My grandfather's ice-blue eyes would crinkle with delight as he told stories like that from Chagrin.

As kids we would hike for what would seem like hours in search of "Squaw Rock," and held family reunions on the sprawling lawns of a local funeral home whose wooden staircase had a secret compartment I found as I searched for hidden passageways. I grew up thinking the town was a pretty magical place, and it still holds it's charm.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Diane Vogel Ferri said...

It's 10 minutes from me and it is like stepping back in time somewhat - but it 's getting a little too crowded and popular on a nice day like all places that get media attention.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I actually like that it's usually brimming with people. Maybe I'm just a big city person at heart, and Cleveland's ordinary lack of human density is a negative to me, at least often. It's also why I love the annual Feast in Little Italy in August, where the neighborhood feels like Manhattan for a day.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Why is it in America that if a place is really charming and pristine it feels as if it is a private estate?

Even in the UK which is the cradle of class separation, right of ways are given to anyone over private lands which allows hikers to cover miles of beautiful countryside.

At 9:17 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Interesting perspective. I never thought about it that way.


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