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Heroic Stories: The Good Fight

I wrote this story for Heroic Stories, a 30,000-plus circ. weekly email publication, for two reasons:

  • To exercise a style I don't usually use, and
  • To recognize someone who affected my world.
It's reproduced here with permission. Comments about this story are at the HeroTalk discussion list (archives available to members only).

HeroicStories #203: 26 March 2001         

The Good Fight                                              Story Editor:
by Tom Geller                                            Joyce Schowalter
San Francisco, California, USA

   I was a student at the University of Cincinnati's conservatory,
looking for something to do outside of musical harmony classes. Somehow,
I found myself at a printer's office across the river in Northern
Kentucky, pasting in line changes for Ed's small Cincinnati newspaper.
It wasn't until I'd been there a few months that I realized how much Ed
changed the world around him -- and altered my life in the process.

   Ed started the paper because the local daily papers of the time
turned a blind eye to problems in local government, gave little space to
issues affecting the city's sizable Black community, and only mentioned
gay people in relation to scandal. Ed's paper was a small, photocopied,
16-page monthly, distributed for free in bars. For those who read it,
however, it was a godsend.

   He constantly encouraged "non-writers" to write if they had a story
to tell. Some of them were (to put it charitably) mediocre writers. He
worked with them until the words better expressed their ideas. When I
turned in a story about an unpopular topic, Ed didn't worry about its
repercussions. He only asked, "Is it true?" and "Does it affect people?"
Satisfied by my answers, he ran the story.

   What drove Ed? It wasn't fame, for the paper's limited resources kept
him obscure. It wasn't money, for he ran the paper at a deficit its
entire life of eight years. Indeed, more than once I remember him having
to choose between paying his rent or paying the printer. (He always
found a way to do both.) I believe the paper gave him strength to go on
in the face of personal difficulties, including the death of his spouse
and 12 years of HIV infection.

   Perhaps his real motivation was revealed in a recent phone
conversation. While talking about a mutual friend I said, "He fought the
good fight." Ed's response: "The good fight's never over." Ed eventually
went on to write for one of the city's daily papers, and then worked for
the city government.

   I don't believe that events make heroes, I believe heroes are the
result of enduring goodness. Ed's enduring goodness proved the value of
constancy, and spoke volumes about working for good causes for their own
sake. He showed how one person working tirelessly could help a
population to overcome its problems. Ed demonstrated that the pay such
work provides is greater than any twice-a-month envelope can deliver.
Above all, his example showed me the necessity of making my own
contributions to causes I believe in.


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"This is True" project (info: and is published
by Randy Cassingham, Freelance Communications, PO Box 17326, Boulder CO
80308 USA. The stories are available to newspapers for FREE as a feature

   Copyright 2001 by Freelance Communications and the original author,
All Rights Reserved. ALL broadcast, publication, retransmission to the
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This page was last updated on Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 12:21pm UTC. All contents copyright 2005 by Tom Geller.