Growing up amidst the corn fields and coal mines of rural western Kentucky in the 1970s and early 1980s, my mind was oftentimes 1,000 miles away.
You see, I’ve always had quite the imagination — something that comes in quite handy when growing up “out in the country” where playmates were limited and trips “to town” were considered a luxury.
Often, I could be found roaming the woods and creeks that lined our property. Imaginary playmates have often been by my side, whether we were doing battle against “those damn Yankees” in Civil War times or I was on the mound of Game 7 of the World Series, pitching for my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers against, once again, “those damn Yankees.”
That imagination, I imagine, was fueled by the numerous books I read via bookmobile or those times I got to go “to town” and spend an afternoon in the Morganfield Public Library. My grandparents got the Evansville (Ind.) Courier-Press each day and I’d read columnist Joe Aaron and scour the sports pages. And when the dad of my neighborhood buddies — the Woodrings — allowed me to read all of his old copies of The Sporting News, that was the greatest thing ever — boxscores of every major league baseball game, even the West Coast teams?
All that reading and love of sports led me to work on the newspaper and yearbook staff at Union County High School and eventually on to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where I learned plenty of life lessons and lots of journalism.
My first job was in January 1990 when I was hired as the sports editor of a small weekly newspaper, the McLean County News, in Calhoun, Ky., on the banks of the Green River. That was followed by two stints as the editor of my hometown paper, the Union County Advocate, sandwiched around a term at the daily Murray (Ky.) Ledger and Times.
In October 1999, I made the leap to a much-bigger newspaper and town when I put everything in a Ryder moving van and came to North Carolina to work at the Gaston Gazette in Gastonia. For 19 years, I worked as part of an award-winning team of journalists in putting out one of the state’s finest daily newspapers.
A victim of staff cutbacks in September 2018, I flirted with the idea of becoming a court reporter and even began training for the work until I was offered the chance to get back into newspapers in March 2019 as the publisher/editor of the Clarksdale (Ms.) Press Register.
For a little over a year, I learned a lot about publishing a weekly community newspaper in the Mississippi Delta and also rediscovered my love of writing and photography. I was pleased with our work as the newspaper was recognized by the state press association with a General Excellence award in the Better Newspaper Contest.
Today, my wife, Danette, and I have returned back to our beloved home on Woodbend in Belmont, NC, where I continue to write on a freelance basis for a number of clients.
My story is one that is being written and rewritten with each passing day.
— Michael Banks
July 17, 2019
3 thoughts on “Let me tell you a story …”
My dear Michael, nice biography, just a few comments. Your sister Stacie and I had on home made dresses, standing by our 1955 Chevy, you had on nice store bought outfit. We had been to church, stopped by for quick visit with Aunt Coletta and your cousins before going back to the country. I am pleased you didn’t mention my part in your not being a Dodger, it was my believe that after working in town, getting back to country, to cook supper and doing housework stuff, going back to town so you could play Little League was not in budget, extra gas or time on road. I do believe you would have put your whole heart into playing ball, just like all of the other adventures of life, you have given it your best and I’m a proud Mom, who is trying to be a good Mother in law. Keep writing ✍️
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Michael, Glad to hear you are self employed and keeping the corporate world at arms length.
Union County remains a bucolic respite from the
frenetic world around it and we love it.
If you ever get back here, give me a shout…I’m
looking for someone to write a biographical that
might be called, “A Series of Flimsy Adventures.”
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Thank you for the comment, Frank.
There is much to be said for the bucolic respite we call home.
Would love to talk more with you on that biographical. I already like the title.
Thanks again for reaching out.