In life the smallest decisions in direction can lead to the road of fruition. Although, the bigger decisions often overshadow the tiny detailed journey that get us there. I’ve found that it’s not as imperative to know your destination, you just need to be on the road. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you can’t miss it.
That’s how things started for me at The Cheviot Gazette. The trouble with not knowing where you want to go, how to get there, or what you plan to achieve, is you will make unnecessary mistakes. If there is no clear path, it's difficult to know if you are moving forward or backward. I've just never been one to sit still for very long.
The overall purpose of the Cheviot Gazette is to create attention in and around my community. As a young man I wanted to change the world, as a middle-aged man I want to highlight my community. I knew this going in but, in three short months it’s been even more overwhelmingly apparent that people here, love it here, and they have stories to tell. I want The Cheviot Gazette to tell their stories. There is a certain pride, history, and tradition, Cheviot has that I find unique to the West Side, and even Cincinnati. The tradition the people and this City carries was never more apparent when a Kiwani, making a statement about the Harvest Home Fair asked me “can you think of another event that has been around every year since 1860?” Obviously, I couldn’t, can you?
Now before I got to this question at Maury’s Tiny Cove on a Wednesday night in May I think it’s worth telling what lead me here on my path to nowhere. After I experienced some early success with The Cheviot Gazette, if you want to call it that. I started to see the underling potential it could have. Work needed to be done however, people needed to be put in place, funds needed to be raised. All I had at that moment was an idea that I thought had potential. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to sell an idea, they don’t pay very much.
I was sitting on my balcony holding my year and a half old son in my lap. He likes to sit out there with me and if we’re lucky we get to see a big truck pass by. On this particular night however, he wasn’t as eager searching for his chance to spot one before me. I was modestly thinking about what I’m writing about now. I think he could tell I had something on my mind. He was just smirking at me as I held him in my arms. I said “What little boy? You have some advice for poppa?” He just smiled, he probably had gas. I don’t know if it was looking at my child’s innocence, or just having a moment I thought I could be beneficial in some manner, but I decided then and there to take a more serious approach to this project.
The next morning, I wrote twenty letters to different businesses. I hand wrote all of them and my hand was shaped into a claw when I finished. I mailed them, and while I waited to hear back, I began to get the other areas of the project in order. The first thing I needed was more content. In order to do this, I needed to either not sleep, or find people to write for free. Somehow, someway, I’ve been blessed enough to find seven so far. I was even approached by a friend to edit all of our articles. Each person that works at The Cheviot Gazette did not know the other upon starting here, including myself. Each and everyone of them is unique and has something new to offer. That may not sound like much but here is my interview process.
"What would you like to do/write about for the Cheviot Gazette?" "When can you start?"
Keep in mind not only did none of us know each other but nobody is getting paid to do this. These are individuals that for this reason or another, care. In retrospect it's no wonder I've found such great team members. With each article they write, I learn a little more about them, the same as any reader of theirs. It's exciting for me when one of their stories does well. I have the prospective of seeing what they put into making it before it is published. I know the time that goes into in, I've talked with them on the side, I can see what it means to them. This is something I didn't account for upon The Cheviot Gazette's conception. It's hard to explain in words, but I think it's what makes it a success for me already. It's a bit surreal.
Out of the twenty letters I wrote, I received two responses. One from Projetech, and one from Tepe Family Dentistry. I didn’t see that as a bad thing, I was thrilled. During this time, I also got the correct documents I needed and filed Cheviot Gazette as an official LLC. In three short months, I was connecting with new friends, business owners, city employees, former police officers, city historians, and now a Kiwani. My road to nowhere, is now our road to nowhere, and it was beginning to look like a road to somewhere.
By this time we had started to develop a little bit of a following. I didn't want to slow down now so I decided to write every single city official on www.cheviot.org. In the email I wrote them all introducing The Cheviot Gazette and informed them we had planned on creating a photo-book for the city. The idea was to have both historic and current pictures of the city. We also wanted to add a quote or a short story from our city officials, business owners, and some private citizens. In the email I explained what we had planned if they were interested, we would love to hear from them. The Honorable Mayor Samuel Keller was the only official to write me back. He didn't give me the exact response I was looking for, but it ended up being one of the most productive responses I've had to date.
It's safe to say the wind was taken out of my sail when I read Mayor Keller's response. I felt dismissed, I couldn't even tell if he had read the entire message. To be clear I don't blame him, or council. These are busy people, they are managing our city for crying out loud. Are they really suppose to take time out of their day and answer every wacko that wants to make a Cheviot book? To the Mayor's credit he gave me an excellent tip on where to find a surplus of source material. Thank you Mr. Mayor.
Enter Stage left, Rich Martin.
At the time, moving The Cheviot Gazette forward to me didn't mean spending a lot of time looking to the past. I thought I would see if Mr. Martin would point me in the right direction for old photographs and that would be that. I have never been more delighted, to be so wrong.
Since our first conversation Mr. Martin and I probably e-mail back and forth about different things four or five days a week. This is more than I care to admit, but that's more than I talk to my own mother in a week. For a total stranger to not only be incredibly helpful, but excited about helping is refreshing to say the least.
I starting asking the man with the answers some questions and he was quick to offer me some great reading material. The first was a book he worked on called "We love Cheviot" you can pick up a copy for yourself at the firehouse for $10 which is exactly what my son and I did. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any big trucks that afternoon at the firehouse. This book is very well put together and is loaded with information. I highly recommend it and the proceeds for the book go back to the city It's a win, win.
Early on in the book it talks about The Harvest Home Fair. How it started, the impact it has on the community, all that good stuff. It takes you back to a state of mind, and paints a visual since of what the fair may have been like all those years ago. Fast forward to present day and The Cincinnati Enquirer published a story stating if new leadership doesn't take over, the fair will die. Imminently I thought, well this can't be. What a shame it would be if the fair ceased to exist, and on our watch.
I did some research and wrote up an article. I sent it over to Mr. Martin and asked him if he could take a look at it for me. I wanted to make sure my facts were all in order. Mr. Martin then asked if he could share the article with some colleagues with more expertise on the fair's history. Not more than twenty four hours later Mr. Peter Rebold Head Chair of The Harvest Home Fair Association himself was quick to set me straight.
Peter Rebold may be in his seventies but his mind is sharp and I knew right away this guy gets things done. When he emailed me about wanting to meet I begrudgingly informed him that with my work scheduled I wouldn't be able to meet until seven-thirty in the evening and maybe we could set up a phone call sometime during the day when I had a break. No, Peter wasn't going to let me off the hook that easy. I wasn't sure if he had a Kawani Mafia hit planned for me at the Cove that night. I didn't know what to expect really. We scheduled a time to meet at Maury's Tiny Cove for the "sit down". He told me "I'll be at the bar in a white Harvest Home shirt, Cya Soon"
When I sat down next to Peter Rebold who told me "I'm just Pete" the first thing he did was introduce himself and thanked me for coming. He gave me a press release he and Mayor Keller had put together so the public knows there is a Harvest Home Fair this year and it is alive and well. When the meeting for new leadership was called back in February over two hundred people showed up in support. That brought a smile to my face. I wish I could have been there. Pete told me humbly that he's the boss of the operation not because he's the best man for the job, but because he's about all that's left. He was joking of course, well sort of. Pete, in his mid-seventies is one of the younger members in the Kawani leadership. The Kawani's Club have ran the Harvest Home Fair since 1960. Pete has been involved with the affair for over forty years. I asked Pete a question relating back to the article the Enquirer wrote and how the fair found itself in a leadership crisis. He replied "Well, we got old." We both couldn't help but laugh. I could tell Pete really enjoys being active in the community. He explained how Cheviot was always good to him and his family and he is happy to return the favor. He gave me a brief history lesson on his families funeral home. "The Rebold Family entered into the funeral business in the South Fairmount neighborhood of Cincinnati in 1882. It continued to operate through 4 generations of the family. The first location, at the corner of Harrison and Westwood, at the foot of the Western Hills Viaduct."- source https://rebold.com/our_heritage.html
It was nice talking with Pete but once we finished our drink it was time to be on our way. I thanked him for his time and exchanged information (once we were able to locate a pen) and shook his hand. He said "I need your help to get the word out, I'm counting on you". Pete is a lawyer but he should be a salesmen, or a principal. I instantly knew not to screw this up. We won't let you down Pete.
Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Sadly a lot of great idea's die before they ever had a chance to start. You will always have people telling you that you can't do something, or how to do it. There will always be people that criticize when you try to do a good thing. A perfect example of this is when the City of Cheviot offered it's residents FREE recycling cans. There was a limited amount, so it was first come, first serve. The amount of negative comments I saw on this post from the City was ridiculous. The residents that participate in organizations like CWCA, The Harvest Home Fair Association, The Kawani's Club, and our City Officials, those are the journey's that are really worth highlighting. The ones doing it for years and earning, but not always getting, the credit they deserve. I think we all want a cleaner, safer, unique Cheviot. Maybe it's time everyone ask themselves what could I do to help? The road is waiting.