If you’ve read some of my recreational writing in one of the fine Herald-Banner publications over the last eight years or so, you probably know I speak in clichés — fluently, I might add.
A few worn-out phrases come to mind as I try to announce that I’m leaving the Herald-Banner, not once and for all, but twice and for all. I’ve been here before and I’m here again to say that my newspaper career as I know it now will end Friday.
I don’t know how to term my departure. Am I retiring or resigning? I don’t know. I just know that I’m departing, but will live again to write. The who, what, when and where I will write has not been determined.
I’m thankful I have had the opportunity to report for the Herald-Banner on two occasions, the first few years with a Rockwall County Herald-Banner focus and the last few years with a Royse City Herald-Banner focus.
I’ve worked with and for some wonderful journalistic professionals at the Herald-Banner and elsewhere in my newspaper career. I’m going to mention only one person though, my hero. Brad Kellar of your Greenville Herald-Banner is the best in my book. I have never seen a reporter who works as hard as Brad. I have never seen anyone as dedicated to his duty as Brad, day in and day out.
I’ve never seen him with a bad attitude, or complaining, or speaking in negative terms about another human being.
And to borrow Brad’s daily greeting to his Facebook world: “Pause. And now the news.”
I’m at the point of retiring, resigning or simply departing because, yes, life is short. There you go, one of my most-often spoken clichés of recent weeks.
I want and need to spend more time with the love of my life. Yes, that would be Becky, the woman who has endured — she says “enjoyed” — almost 49 years as my wife.
I don’t want to live a life of regret. I don’t want to wake up one day and say, “I wish I had spent more time with Becky.” Being free of my day-to-day duties as a newspaper reporter will set me free to spend more time with this woman who loves me.
A move is in our future this year. We’re going home, back to the Longview area.
My almost 96-year-old mother lives there, and so does Becky’s 90-year-old mother. Becky and I have siblings who live there, and son Isaac is a Longview resident.
Newspaper business or family? Which should I choose? At this point, that’s not difficult to answer. Being near to those who are so dear to us is an easy choice.
I started my life in the newspaper business in 1966. I was a Friday night football correspondent, covering Tatum High School games for the Longview News-Journal, Marshall News-Messenger and Shreveport Times.
Back in those days, Van Thomas was my journalistic hero. He was sports editor of the News-Journal and my dream was to someday be like him. I wanted to be a sports writer and Dwayne Hartnett gave me my first real newspaper reporting job as a sports writer for the Marshall News-Messenger.
I worked for the News-Messenger for a year or so. During the school year, I drove two or three times a week to Marshall from Nacogdoches, where I was an English-journalism student at Stephen F. Austin State University. Dr. Francine Hoffman taught me in the classroom and Dwayne Hartnett taught me on the job.
Later, I became sports editor of the Lufkin News. After Lufkin, my newspaper career took me — and Becky, of course — to Denton, Dallas, then Sherman. My newspaper career was interrupted at various times by other opportunities, but I always returned to my first love — the newspaper business.
I worked for the Winnsboro News somewhere in the early 1980s and then became editor, publisher, owner, everything for the Hallsville Herald. Later, I started the Tri-County shopper, a tabloid publication that covered Rusk, Panola and Gregg counties.
I was a news reporter several years for the Longview News-Journal and “retired” in 2006. We moved to Royse City in 2008 and I had a need to return to the newspaper business.
That need brought me to the Herald-Banner on Sept. 8, 2009.
I “retired” again on Jan. 31, 2014.
I came out of retirement on July 1, 2015, so my latest attempt at retirement will begin exactly two years after my return.
On July 1, we will begin to write the next chapter in our life and that brings me to our favorite cliché of all time — “The best is yet to come.”
We can say that because we believe it.
We’ve had a great time in this life, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.
The best is yet to come.
Jim Hardin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.