A Relic from the Past

By Jack Houvouras

Jack Houvouras

I recently received a phone call from my friend Mike Perry, the heralded hoarder from Heritage Farm Museum & Village, who found a copy of a speech I gave to the downtown Rotary Club on July 10, 1989, which was two months before the debut of the Huntington Quarterly. I am thankful that Mike rarely throws anything away, as my copy of the speech was lost in a fire in 2007. I thought the readers of the magazine might find this old artifact interesting, as it was a talk that laid the groundwork for the past 22 years. Two decades later, the mission of this magazine remains the same.

I would like to begin by thanking the Rotary Club for inviting me to speak at today’s luncheon. I am honored to be here. I would also like to thank Matt Miller for introducing me. Mr. Miller has been a great help to me over the past several weeks, and I truly appreciate his efforts.

I am here today to let each of you know about a new magazine I am starting in our city. The name of the publication is Huntington Quarterly, and it will come out four times a year – every fall, winter, spring and summer.

The main premise behind the magazine is two-fold: first, to entertain and inform local readers in much the same manner as any local/regional magazine would; and second, to promote Huntington and its surrounding communities. I have been working closely with the local Chamber of Commerce in hopes of using this publication as a means by which to accentuate the positive things that reside in our city. The Chamber plans to send the magazine out to businesses and families that are considering relocating to Huntington. Therefore, in this capacity, each issue will be a 60-page advertisement for the City of Huntington.

To demonstrate, let me now show you what the editorial make-up of this magazine will be. I begin with the cover of our premiere issue, due out in September. As this will be our Fall issue, I chose to seek out a cover that not only reflected Huntington, but the beauty of the city in autumn as well. With that in mind, I asked local artist Adele Thorton Lewis to paint an autumn scene of one of Huntington’s most beautiful areas: Ritter Park. I have always felt that Ritter Park is, in many respects, the nucleus of Huntington. I think the park is most reflective of our city in its natural beauty and elegance.

Let me turn now to the inside of the magazine. Each edition of the magazine will profile people making a difference in the region. In addition, we will feature area homes, local history, travel opportunities, successful businesses and always a story on “The University.” This is what Huntington Quarterly is all about. The magazine will be supported, as most are, by advertising and subscriptions.

When I first began this project, I had, as most people do, a number of skeptics. People would say to me, “You’ll never sell 28 pages of advertising,” and “You’ll be lucky to get 10 percent of the people to give you an ad.” Well, those skeptics were wrong. Ninety percent of the businesses I called on took an ad in this magazine. Obviously, the response has been tremendous. But it is my opinion that such a response says nothing, in particular, of me or the magazine. Such a response says a lot for the people of Huntington.

Looking back to the beginning of this project, I recall that a number of the skeptics said Huntington just wasn’t big enough to support a magazine. From an economic standpoint, they may have been right. Huntington is no Lexington or Louisville – from an economic standpoint. However, what these skeptics often forget is that it’s not money that comprises the heart of this city but, instead, the people. No one can convince me that Huntington cannot afford to support a quarterly magazine. When you look at the people of Huntington, you see that Lexington is no Huntington; Louisville is no Huntington.

However, I do not mean to paint a perfect picture of our city. We do have our problems. The pride we used to feel as a community has been damaged by national stereotypes about our state. Consequently, Huntington is now home to a bevy of critics who enjoy discussing all the negative aspects of the city.

I think the time is right for this wave of pessimism to end. The time is right for the emergence of a new Huntington. In time, I hope to see a community of positive and progressive people who look for the good in our city and are willing to work for a Huntington we can all be proud of.

I think that the Huntington Quarterly can play a major role in the formation of a new Huntington. If we, as a city, are able to put out an attractive, well-written, quality-produced publication, the word will get out. There is no reason why Huntington cannot have a magazine of its very own; the time is right for the magazine, and the city, to break ground and move ahead.

I would like to conclude this talk with what is perhaps my father’s favorite quote: “One man can make a difference, and every man should try.” In September, you will see the premiere issue of the Huntington Quarterly magazine. I would like to think of this publication as my attempt, however small, to make a difference in our city. I started this project not because I hoped to make money, but because I wanted to make a contribution. I wanted to give the people of Huntington the chance to feel good, at least four times a year, about living in this great city. Huntington Quarterly grew out of those dreams. I now look to September and to the future of this city with confidence and pride. I challenge each of you here today to join me.

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