Thursday, January 30, 2020

tell me about this photo

I think I've mentioned this, but we live in a little town called Chagrin Falls. I call it "Mayberry North."





I'm ranting and raving about description this week.
Mostly to those poor unfortunate writers who had the misfortune to submit a novel that describes how people look as though eyes (gold flecked green eyes!) and hair (tumbling curls of red!) are something a reader needs to know.

Here's the thing to remember: description that reveals character is more memorable than just knowing what I call wanted poster details (height hair color, tattoos etc.)

Callng this street Mayberry North tells me a lot more than "three stores and a blue truck"

So, have at it.

Tell me something about this street that reveals character.
20 words or fewer.
Post in the comment column here.

58 comments:

Steve Forti said...

The town was a time capsule with a one-way valve - a hipster's Prius pulling into Normal Rockwell's freshly-swept parking space.

Timothy Lowe said...

Flags still unfurled from last month's Fourth of July parade, the street was uncommonly solemn. Waiting, perhaps.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

In youth, people wanted to leave the sleepy, little town behind to find adventure, fortune. They always came back.

Barbara Hinske said...

Main Street on this Fourth of July reminded me of Grandma after church, with her sturdy brogues in place and a frilly apron tied around her solid frame.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

There’s more action in the small apartments above Main Street’s few stores than behind their counters.

french sojourn said...


“Mayberry, north” had a Starbucks, pumping caffeinated blood into a once atrophied heartland town. Named aptly enough, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Jenn Griffin said...

Espresso, ever-faithful rescue pup, waited eagerly for his person to share his Bacon & Gruyere Egg Bites.

Marie Antonia Parsons said...

Open parked car door. Unchained bikes outside. Clean flowered streets. American pride homes. Strangers be welcome. One could hope.

Mister Furkles said...

small town Main Street frozen in 1954

Aphra Pell said...

On the surface, it was a rom-com small town dream. Perky frontages, bright civic flowers, meet-cute cafes. On the surface....

nightsmusic said...

Sleepy little town. Boring. Never any excitement. Until someone takes the stairs and turns right. The smell will draw them.

Lennon Faris said...

Oh, man. Not to be a party pooper but (not an entry) what the heck does mayberry north mean? Per Google it looks like a street from the Andy Griffith show. Still doesn't mean anything to me.

Creative metaphors are awesome until I don't get them, then I get annoyed.

Wow! I sound like a curmudgeon.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


The townspeople tended to the place with two cans of bright yellow paint and by not sneezing all at once.

Kelly said...

The Hallmark channel loves Chagrin Falls, Ohio, to the tune of thirty-one movies filmed there and counting.

Brenda Buchanan said...

A custom-made awning offered a semblance of privacy to those who climbed the stairway to heaven above the coffee shop.

Lennon Faris said...

Car door left open, content dobie tied to a tree, bicycles aren't locked up - people here trust each other.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Kodachrome blue skies, hanging baskets of petunias, and patriotic swags, hallmarks of summer in northeast Ohio.

Dena Pawling said...



Wanna know how much my life sucks? I hate coffee and I live in an apartment over a Starbucks, in a building where the owner's so cheap, he used remnants to paint the place.

roadkills-r-us said...

The town was like a hooker in a detective movie, its colorful outside hiding a colorless, hopeless soul.

Karl Henwood said...

The street was all beautiful brick and concrete, square, sturdy, and thick enough that I couldn’t hear them scratching underneath.

Craig F said...

A face in the third window of the darker building belies the facade of Mayberry North, it is evil.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Main street of historic river town celebrating National Bald Eagle Day.

CynthiaMc said...

Mayberry North was the kind of town you expected to be bustling with life, Brewster thought. So where was everyone?

Beth Carpenter said...

Johnson’s Drug was a Starbucks now, but Miss Norma’s ancient bicycle still sat out front, unchained, every morning at nine.

flashfriday said...

Nothing about Chagrin Falls suggested dragons; its prim storefronts and (properly permitted!) Independence Day buntings didn’t look even remotely flammable.

Just Jan said...

Passers-by assumed Chagrin Falls was a sleepy backwater, but underneath the pristine surface, discontent bubbled like its namesake river.

Claire Bobrow said...

Like the last, lonely train whistle fading into the night, the old General Store had been swallowed by a Starbucks.

Nate Wilson said...

Mi carro es su carro. Mi bicicleta es su bicicleta. All is wonderful inside the Plexiglas dome of Sector 123RF.

Kate Larkindale said...

Even the shrubs in the planter boxes looked the same, terrified to grow in case their unruly limbs marred the veneer of perfection.

RosannaM said...

The bicycle was placed in its spot before dawn on Memorial Day, and townspeople trickled by to pay their respects.

E. Berg said...

Forever primed for a parade, stubby two-stories crammed together along Main Street, patriotic flags waved, sidewalks shined. Polite, polite people.

The Noise In Space said...

Mayberry North was the kind of town that defined itself more by what it didn’t have than what it did.

Unknown said...

"Why must we get up so early?" Crystal asked her siblings. Crystal and her three sisters were born in 1920. They were once the cornerstone of town. Now the town is nearly vacant, and they are outdated. Locals try to spice it up. New sidewalk trees and decorations for the coming 4th of July parade. Townsfolk will gather on the sidewalks and drive down the street throwing candy to the children, then they will clean-up and get back about their business. Eventually the children will move to a newer town - one that gets up early.

Gabby said...

Why, if small towns were 'so friendly', did he feel like even the damn buildings glared disapprovingly at him?

Android Astronomer said...

With friendly, unassuming residents who shunned Starbucks for the local barbershop, Edentown was the perfect place to hide the bodies.

Mallory Love said...


The town was a blink and you’d miss it kind of place, pure 1950’s nostalgia save for the illegally-parked Prius.

Ly Kesse said...

A spit in the road, where everyone knows everyone else's business.

Rio said...

Chagrin Falls clearly splurged on the deluxe Instant Main Street kit. I liked the bicycle-against-storefront upgrade. Good choice.

Joseph S. said...


Downtown, the shops closed for the night, the locals and tourists gone for the day, bathed in a comforting silence.

Laurie said...

A snaphot of my childhood, the street ahead looked innocent enough but fresh paint could hide a myriad of sins.

Sherryl said...

The blue truck was too shiny, and the driver ... well, he was one of them foreign types. Russian or somethin'.

LynnRodz said...

Behind the town's sleepy facade lurked nightmares galore.

Rusty Williams said...

A village of millwork storefronts with large shop windows, painted brick, casement windows, and shoppers who greet each other by first name.

Brenda said...

Chagrin Falls—a firestorm of felicity.

Can you tell I’m reading Austen?

Casual-T said...

With inhabitants as ancient as the houses themselves, the passage of time was a mere illusion in Chagrin Falls.

KDJames said...

Bright flowers, festive bunting, open window shades, untended bicycles.
A community's proud, "Welcome!"

Jorge heeded the warning: Move on, boy.

Adele said...

Huge publicly-funded hanging baskets, freshly-painted stores, and of course a Starbucks - a tiny, sleepy, wealthy town.

Eileen said...

It was a town where it seemed a Fourth of July parade could break out at any moment. Complete with kids with paper streams from their bike handles, the off key high school band and the mayor riding in his convertible.

Megan V said...

All the town council managed to do with Main Street was give it a half-hearted hipster makeover, circa Route 66.

Da Vinci's desk said...

‘If grandpa calls this ‘the big city’ one more time, I’m going to scream,” said Claire from her corner of the back seat.

Kate Higgins said...

The sidewalk’s only trash: a water cup for the sleepy guardian of an unlocked bicycle.
Yes, you were safe here.

NLiu said...

Main Street was so preppy - shiny bicycles, coffee, even a Prius smugly kissing the kerb - it made her teeth ache. No wonder Marcus loved it here.

Billy Jim said...

Don Robertson used Chagrin Falls, Ohio, as the setting of his his two-volume novel "Paradise Falls."

John Davis Frain said...

The door swung open. I waited for Norman Rockwell to step out. Instead, it was the pastor. In his sheriff's uniform.

Brittany said...

Boxy architecture an optimistic real estate agent would call "vintage" bore corporate logos tacked on like ill-considered piercings.

Michael Seese said...

This is SO going to bust the "keep it short" mantra.

Where to begin...

@Steve Forti, there is indeed a time capsule buried in the center of town.

@Timothy Lowe and Eileen & others, actually the parade is Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday it's the firetrucks and floats and marching bands down Washington Street, then on Monday the safety forces and Scouts lead the march out Franklin Street for a solemn ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery.

@E.M. Goldsmith, a lot of people do come back.

@Carolynnwith2Ns, there are a lot of apartments above the stores. And right above the sign you can see called "Outfitters," there is an Airbnb.

@Lennon Faris, "Mayberry North." Our main street is called Main Street. There is a gazebo in the center of the town square, it's actually a triangle. In front of the Village Hall sits a Civil War cannon. A councilman lives next door to me; the mayor knows me by name. Our kids walk to school. I can walk to the supermarket, the library, the drugstore. If I walk our dog into the drugstore or the hardware store, they give her a biscuit. How's that?

@Kelly, the Hallmark Channel does love us, though I was not aware of 31 movies.

@Lennon again, whenever I park in town I leave my car unlocked. I have neighbors who never lock their house doors.

@Beth Carpenter and Claire Bobrow, when I moved here, there was a ladies clothing store where the Starbucks now is. I'd have to do some research to see what it originally was. Though at the end of that same block at one time stood Porter's Grocers.

@FlashFriday, dragons, nope. The school mascot is a tiger.

@Ly Kesse, My neighbor Laurie does know everything going on.

@Rusty Williams. There once were numerous mills along the river.

@Billy Jim, I did not know about the book, Paradise Falls. But the town does make a great character in its own right. In fact (ahem) my latest book, an MG adventure, is set in a town called "Whispering Falls." Go figure.

Any other questions?

Joseph S. said...

Michael Seese wrote:

Our main street is called Main Street. There is a gazebo in the center of the town square, it's actually a triangle. In front of the Village Hall sits a Civil War cannon. A councilman lives next door to me; the mayor knows me by name. Our kids walk to school. I can walk to the supermarket, the library, the drugstore. If I walk our dog into the drugstore or the hardware store, they give her a biscuit. How's that?

This sounds a lot like my town, too. Add "no chain or franchise businesses on Main Street" and "church bells on the hour"

Emily said...

They wanted "Pollyanna's Hometown", so I pointed to the cozy-spunky main street still decked out from the weekend's Americana festivities.




I rarely comment, but I wanted to make more of an effort this year, even if it's late and even if the contests are closed. I need the practice. You describing me in that paragraph up there (my hair is freshly washed, so the curls do indeed tumble today) felt like a sign.