Saturday, November 22, 2008

It still screams

I woke up this morning to learn that Tom Gish, former editor and publisher of my hometown newspaper, The Mountain Eagle, had died at age 82.

Tom and Pat Gish were among the adults whom I admired growing up in Whitesburg. They were journalists and business owners and the parents of high school classmates of mine. Pat, in particular, was a role model for girls at the time. She and Tom were partners in the true sense of that word.

They allowed us on the high school newspaper staff to use their offices and darkroom and their typesetting and layout equipment -- as long as we were out of the way when it was deadline time for them. Later, when Appalshop moved in next door to their office and I was there almost everyday taking myself too seriously while learning to make documentary films, I would learn by observation how authentic and serious professionals worked day-in and day-out putting out a weekly community paper that would later become famous, almost legendary.

I was living in Whitesburg and working at Appalshop in 1974 when the paper was firebombed. I showed up at the Gishes' home with dozens of others to help get the paper out that week. There WAS a paper that week -- and the masthead had been changed to "It STILL Screams."

Rest in peace, Tom Gish. You're a legend.

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