Barbara Christian

In the July 7 issue of this newspaper, I wrote a column headlined “Six Degrees of Separation: Chagrin Valley Edition,” in which we asked readers to share their experiences with the rule-of-six phenomenon.

To review, the theory is everyone on the planet Earth (or close to it) is connected to every other person through just five other people. But we switched it up a bit.

Instead of humans, we offered the idea that everyone on earth is somehow connected to the greater Chagrin Valley and offered several examples from our own experiences. Thanks to everyone who responded. Here are their stories.

‘From Mississippi, with love’

For several years, my husband and I spent time in Pensacola Beach at the Portofino Island Resort. One of the first people I ever met there was a woman attending the same water aerobics class. She asked where I was from.

I said “originally from Mississippi.”

She smiled and said she was, too. Suddenly we were fast friends. She invited us to a party at her condo that Friday night and one of the guests, upon hearing I was now from Chagrin Falls, said she had lived there with her first husband and her son had gone to University School, where my son had also attended.

They were years apart in age so their paths never crossed, but we remain friends to this day.

Mary Ann Boysen, South Russell

Three times ‘six degrees’

In the early 1980s, my husband and I took my three children on a trip through North Carolina. We toured Old Salem and, while visiting the kitchen, the young lady asked where we were from. “Ohio,” we replied. She gave her speech. We asked a few questions and then left.

A few minutes later she came running after us and said, “You people are from Ohio. Have you ever heard of Chagrin Falls?”

We told her that’s where we were from and she said her best friend had moved to Chagrin Falls last year. As it turned out, my sons went to school with her friend and knew him. When asked where I’m from, I always answer with Chagrin Falls rather than Ohio or Cleveland.

Two years later, my husband and I had parked our RV in a campground in Stockton, Texas and noticed that an RV from Canada had pulled in and parked beside us.When I went outside to say “Hi,” the lady, who had noticed our license plate, asked me where in Ohio I was from.

I answered “Chagrin Falls” and she got the biggest smile!

Earlier that summer, she and her husband had spent two weeks at nearby Punderson State Park while playing in a Bridge tournament and, as it turned out, I knew the couple they played Bridge with, too.

A third example happened while we were visiting the Badlands in South Dakota. We had pulled into a viewing area and I noticed a car from Delaware County, Ohio. We’d had an interim pastor from Delaware County so I asked if they knew him.

They didn’t. The man asked where we were from. I answered and he told me he’d graduated from Chagrin Falls High School in 1985 – the same year as one of my sons. The man was Sean Kay of Breezewood Garden Center fame.

Jane Hall-Nemeth, South Russell

‘Small elevator, smaller world’

My husband and I were in Florence, Italy about 12 years ago and were waiting for an elevator in our hotel. It was a very small elevator.

Another couple came behind us and we squished in together. Noticing that we were speaking English, they asked where we were from and we replied that it was a small town near Cleveland. They asked where.

“Chagrin Falls,” we said.

They looked stunned. They had been there the previous week for a wedding. They were from Arizona.

Marilyn Hitchcock, South Russell


‘From Arizona, with love’

Several years ago, my husband and I were on a road trip heading west when we decided to stop in Kansas City to attend a Cleveland Indians game. We hitched a ride to the stadium from the hotel and after the game we waited in an area to pick up an Uber back.

As we waited, we began chatting with some people nearby and one of the women asked where we were from. We explained that we lived in Arizona, but recently returned to Ohio, where we previously lived. She also lived in Ohio.

When we noted that our home was in Chagrin Falls, the woman said she worked for an organization which had recently received funding from a Chagrin Falls group called 100 Women Who Care, a club of which I am a member.

More recently, my daughter and her family were looking for a new home in the Phoenix area and after finding one she liked, took her husband to have a closer look.

The owner was there and as they were chatting, my daughter mentioned she was from Ohio and then noted it was a community outside of Cleveland named Chagrin Falls.

The owners’ mouths dropped. The woman had grown up in Chagrin Falls and had graduated from Chagrin Falls High in 1991. Although my daughter graudated from CFHS in 1998, they shared plenty of other connections.

My daughter ended up buying the house and later discovered a coffee mug from the Popcorn Shop in a lower cabinet. Welcome home!

Cindy Stephenson, Chagrin Falls

Go Tribe! (in Paris)

Years ago we were in Paris and having a glass of wine at a cafe on the West Bank when an older man walked by with an Indians cap on. As is custom, we both shouted out “Go Tribe!”

The man took one or two more steps and then turned back to us with a puzzled expression.

We pointed to his cap and said “Cleveland.”

He nodded. We nodded. With some effort on all our parts, he explained that he was not French, but was a tourist from Brazil. His son was executive of a large Cleveland-area corporation and when he visited, they had attended an Indians game, which he enjoyed a lot. As a token of their time together, his son gifted him with the hat which he still wore.

Janice and Clyde Evans, Russell

What are the odds?

I was volunteering in a beading workshop in Amelia Island, Florida. The group makes beaded jewelry and sells the items, with all proceeds going to local charities.

I did not know anyone in the group of about 15 women. When they heard I was from Chagrin Falls, one of the leaders said she had lived there and five others had visited.

Dana Davis, Chagrin Falls

Ms. Christian has written for newspapers in the Chagrin Valley since the 1960s. Email her at:

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.