Madeira writer has editor in her own back yard

By Regina Villiers. Originally published February 1, 1995 in The Suburban Life, added February 13, 2020.

Ed Gallenstein enjoys the piles of mail that come from subscribers and types out personal answers to as much of it as he can.

     I read something one time to the effect that sometimes the guy next door is better known in other locations than in his own community.

     I was reminded of that this past week, for the guy next door to me is known around the world much more than in our own neighborhood.

     When I called a man in Wisconsin to do a phone interview for a magazine article, he softened immediately and practically bowed down when he learned where I lived.

     “Oh, you must be close to Ed Gallenstein,” he said.  “He’s the editor of my favorite magazine.”

     Indeed he is.  He’s the editor of the favorite magazine of over 55,000 people around the world, for that’s the current circulation of Chip Chats.

     Yet when people see Ed walk down Miami Avenue, as he frequently does, many of them may not know him or what he does.  Ed is a non-pretentious man who quietly lives his life.

     Chip Chats is a magazine for woodcarvers.  It started out as a mimeographed newsletter for the National Woodcarvers Association.  Ed was asked to take it over in 1965 when it was being mailed out to 450 members of the group.

     Since then, the progress of Chip Chats has been remarkable.  The magazine now is around 150 pages per issue.  It’s printed on slick paper with beautiful color photography and it sports a perfect binding.

     Ed was born and grew up in Maysville, Ky.  His father was an artist and Ed had a lot of artistic ability.  At the age of 13 he became the owner of his first pocketknife and he started to express his artistic bent by carving things from wood.

     But he never thought about art or carving as work.  Instead, he followed his other interest, journalism.

     He went to work at the Daily Bulletin in Maysville where he learned the printer’s trade.  In time, he also worked at two other Maysville newspapers, the Daily Independent and the Public Ledger.

     From there, he went to the Lewis County Herald, where as its editor he aroused the community with some of his editorials.

     Then he moved to Prescott, Ariz., and worked at the Yavapai County Messenger.

     After that he came here to Cincinnati to work at The Cincinnati Enquirer where he stayed until he retired several years ago.

     When he left the Enquirer he didn’t retire at all.  He just took over his second career with Chip Chats, which had been creeping up on him for 20 years.  And he now works harder than he ever has in his life.

     When Ed started out with Chip Chats he did it as a hobby and he set up production in a small room of the Gallenstein home.  The room, overflowing with books and boxes, was referred to by the kids as Dad’s office, and by his wife, Lisa, as Ed’s dump.

     When his desk sank out of sight he moved the operation to the basement where it took over like crabgrass.

Under Ed’s leadership, the mimeographed newsletter soon became a magazine.  He added features and pages, and it kept getting bigger and bigger.  Word spread along the carving grapevine and membership and circulation started to increase by leaps bounds.

     Ed would work by day at the Enquirer.  Then he’d come home and work far into the night on the magazine.  The entire process took place in the basement.  He enlisted the help of Lisa and the kids, and they even collated it on a large, Lazy Susan device.  They then stapled it, addressed it, and carted it in bundles to the post office by station wagon.

     As the magazine grew, so did Ed’s fame.  He started getting requests for interviews, and he began traveling and appearing at woodcarving shows around the country.  His schedule seemed impossible.  Finally, he started sending the magazine out to be printed.

     When he retired from the Enquirer, he turned full attention to the magazine and it grew even faster.  Circulation continues to grow.  It has subscribers in every European country and in other countries such as Japan and the African countries, and even on Pitcairn Island.

Ed finally decided the magazine had outgrown the basement and went out and rented office and workspace.  “I couldn’t find the washing machine anymore,” Lisa said.

The magazine still takes up much of the basement, for Lisa and daughter Cathy Frye handle the subscriptions, mail and all paperwork there.  Cathy has also taken over the treasurer’s job.

     All the editorial tasks are done at the office, and were handled by Ed alone until a couple of years ago.  Finally, he allowed daughter Julie Potluri to come in to assist him with editorial duties.

     Together they write, edit, set type, do layout and paste up, and put the whole thing together to send to the printer.  The magazine is a bimonthly, and the process is continual.

     Julie takes weekends off, but Ed still works every day plus evenings and weekends.  He has eased on traveling a bit, cutting down on carving shows.

     I write occasional articles for the magazine, and it’s the easiest of jobs.  I hand Ed my finished piece over the yard fence, and he hands me a check.

     The Gallensteins are exceptional neighbors.  They were here when we moved here.  We watched each other’s kids grow up, and we’re all still speaking in friendly voices.  In fact, I think there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for me.

     Ed likes the symphony, Garrison Keillor and art books.  Actually, he likes all books.  His favorite relaxation is to sneak away to a sale or a bookstore to browse.  Then he’ll try to sneak his newly-found treasures into the house past Lisa, who’s neat to a fault and constantly, de-clutters.

      Ed is a guy who could go door-to-door in Oberammergau, Germany, and borrow cups of sugar or hunks of basswood for carving.  He’s known around the world as the editor of a good magazine.

     But here in Madeira people may be asking by now, “Ed who?”