Way back in the time of landline telephones, cable television and Calvin and Hobbes, three friends sat down with a bottle of wine and wrote a sardonic guidebook for those striving to personify the perfection that was Chagrin Falls at that time.
Okay, so it was more than one bottle.
The book was just snooty enough to appeal to those who took the guidelines seriously and tongue-in-cheek funny for those who “got it.” Some who read it found they did not measure up to the guidelines and got really angry. It was titled “Real Chagrinites Don’t Stand in Line at the Popcorn Shop” a spin-off on the best seller at the time, “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche,” Bruce Feirstein’s declaration of what was considered manly.
The three culprits responsible for the Chagrin Falls version were former Times reporter and columnist Joan Brandon and artist Joan Kerber who was called upon to create the illustrations. I was the third.
Although she denies it to this day, a fourth friend – Kathy Watterson – inspired the little book that ended up in a good many Chagrin Falls households, the local library, Fireside Book Shop and a booth at that year’s Blossom Time festival. One day while riffing on the “Real Men . . .” book, Kathy said something like “there should be a book about who the real Chagrinites are.” And so it came to pass that “Real Chagrinites” was born.
There was a fifth who made the book a tangible thing. Lifelong Chagrin resident Richard Evans and local print shop owner, who gleefully published the book even though his press was (and still is) in Solon.
There are a few of the books still floating around and every now and then someone will tell me about finding their copy while “cleaning out the basement,” “cleaning out the attic” or “cleaning out the garage.” Admittedly this was something of a downgrade for “Real Chagrinites,” which once occupied a coffee table in the main part of the house.
Some will say there should be a sequel for the 21st Century Chagrinite. Sadly, both Joans and Richard have passed away. I often wonder if they would they trust me to go it alone?
In the year 2019, who should the real Chagrinite be? What does he or she think, do, believe? Let’s try out a few and see who laughs and who gets mad. Real Chagrinites:
Know that to re-purpose and re-use are important to the recycling movement, and would never relinquish parkland for a “better” playground (especially when there is nothing wrong with the almost new playground that is already there).
Never ever see village homes as vacant lots, and would not tear one down for new construction (especially when there is nothing wrong with the house that is already there) because real Chagrinites conserve resources and recognize history.
Understand the finite boundaries of the village and do not confuse them with the boundaries of the school district or the 44022 zip code.
Do not see a parking problem. They know where the secret spaces are or they walk to town.
Pick up after their pooches and know which merchants set out bowls of “dog water.” They never throw cigarette butts and candy wrappers into the downtown flower beds and boxes.
Always use the crosswalks and never disobey the big, lighted hand on the traffic signals. They do not jaywalk.
Try not to use Sunday’s farmers market as a fashion runway or to mimic a page from Country Living magazine. Thus they do not wear designer sun bonnets or carry quaint wicker baskets that cost a fortune at Williams Sonoma.