The Five-Percent Minority

Chagrin Falls Revisited

by Gary Palmer


Book Details

I will find a way or make one—Hannibal

In the summer of 1929, a few months before the Great Depression, a drama started to unfold in the quaint little village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio—a drama that would impact the lives of many people for nearly a century. The story begins with a teenager, Katherine Jones, and a horseman from the East, Kenneth Palmer. They soon married, opening the curtains on a dysfunctional marriage.

Act one characterizes the couple’s lifestyle, which included drinking, infidelity and domestic abuse. Even with two young sons, the pattern of behavior continued. The horse training business often took them to Westbury, New York. It was there that Katherine Palmer became infatuated with a young unmarried man whose family owned the horses as well as a tavern. Act one draws to a close with an impulsive affair and an unexpected pregnancy.

Act two brought Gary into the drama. Born in Chagrin Falls in 1940 at his maternal grandmother’s home with no birth certificate; Gary’s life was a catalyst for change. In the spring of 1947, like a slamming screen door, the Palmer family dissolved. The stage door opened for Gary, setting the scene for abandonment, poverty, a children’s home, and foster care.

The final act concludes Gary’s tale of resiliency and character, striving for a life of his own. A search for identity in the face of adversity is the backdrop for this amazing story. Overcoming the odds at every stage of his life made Gary the strong and loving person he became.


Book Excerpt

Through all my experiences in those bygone years back home in Chagrin Falls, the wonderful memories, the sights, the sounds and serenity of nature, helped offset the unpleasantness that shadowed me in my early years. Listening to the peaceful, pleasant sound of rain tapping on the roof top at our High Street home. Through the open bedroom window, I remember the soothing sound of rain gently dropping on the leaves of the large maple tree that stood outside my room. The sounds of crickets chirping in the open field and bullfrogs croaking at a nearby pond. Freight trains sounding their warning signals in the nighttime air as they chugged their way through town. The falls at the paper mill, flattened by centuries of wear, spilled its rushing waters onto the rocks below. The paper mill whistle announcing the arrival of high noon and the sirens calling the volunteer firemen to duty; the same sirens that I fondly recall signaling the end of World War II; followed by the distant sounds of people cheering for joy that the war had finally ended. I remember wondering if people everywhere were happy or just people in my hometown. Flowers bursting into bloom in the early spring; robins snatching worms from the grass after a springtime rain. Lightning bugs radiating against the dark summer sky; blue gills dangling from bamboo poles. The smell of burning autumn leaves and the freshness of the night air after a gentle rain. The excitement generated by the Tiger marching band as they paraded from the high school to the stadium on football Friday nights. The distant music generated a feeling like a battle was about to rage. It made me dream about someday going to the games and growing up to be a football player. The cheerfulness of Thanksgiving Day; hiking with my dog in the woods Thanksgiving morning, before coming home to listen to the Western Reserve-Case Tech football game on the radio. Then, in the early afternoon, sitting down with my foster parents’ family to give thanks and enjoy a banquet of delicious food. The wistfulness of the first snow of winter and the pleasant sounds of Christmas music floating through the December air. To this very day, the same sights, sounds and smells bring back those nostalgic years.


About the Author

Gary Palmer

Gary graduated with a BSEd from Ohio University. He has written pieces for newspapers, the Navy Times and the American Academy of Health and Fitness. Gary is a former educator, coach, businessman, and local cable TV host. The author of four published books, he is also a Certified Personal Trainer.

Also by Gary Palmer

Survival of the Fittest


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