We didn’t know we were coming to Chagrin Falls two weeks ago, but it worked out that we could, and we are attending the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. Our initial plan was to…finally!…drive the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia into North Carolina. But Hurricane Florence came along, and the Parkway was closed for a while, with threats of lots of flooding on the path we had planned. Luckily, we only make refundable hotel reservations, so we traveled through New York to get to Ohio for this festival. Amazingly, we attended a documentary film festival just three weeks ago, yet none of the movies here are a repeat of those offered in Maine. Documentaries are interesting because their subject matter is sometimes obscure, yet there is always something we can learn. So far, our films have included one about a 12-year-old boy who testified against his father in his mother’s murder; brutal labor camps in China; Robert Manry, who sailed nonstop from Falmouth, MA to Falmouth, England in the shortest boat to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean at the time, in 1965, taking 78 days to do so in a 13.5-foot sailboat (named Tinkerbelle!); an old woman hoarder in Spain who inherited a fortune, bought a monkey and a castle, and lost it all; and, a woman named Sunny who puts on a one-woman show impersonating Marilyn Monroe…she is really good! With makeup, she is identical to Marilyn, but without makeup, she is softer and you can tell immediately that she is not Marilyn. So interesting, and especially since the writer of the show spent 10 years looking for a woman to play Marilyn, rejecting everyone, because all of the best impersonators were transvestites!
So the name Chagrin Falls is a corruption of the name of a fur trader from 1732, as you can see on the photo of the historical marker. The photos of the Falls were taken smack in the middle of downtown, as the town grew up around them. The name is fun, because you think chagrin = dismay, but here it is a positive, as many businesses have incorporated the word into their names. We thought the sign for the Theater District was adorable, as it conjures up New York’s theater district, which covers a broad area over many streets and theaters. Chagrin’s is a small street with the Little Theater and a playhouse. However, it must be said that the hub of the film festival, seen on the right in the first photo, is the Little Theater, which was founded in 1930 and is one of the oldest community theaters in the nation, with the oldest just 8 years older. We have discovered that two of our favorite celebrities grew up in Chagrin Falls: Tim Conway from the Carol Burnett Show, and Bill Watterson, the cartoonist who created the brilliant Calvin and Hobbes.
The photos from around the village, as the locals call it, show the gazebo in the middle of town, some exquisite architecture, and several of Chagrin’s downtown businesses. It is a charming and friendly place, as everyone talked to us and asked where we were from. Very small-town, but so nice. The last two photos are of a house on South Franklin Street that is ready for Halloween! The houses along Franklin are big, comfortable, and simply beautiful. What a terrific place to live.