Happy trails - Carolina Country

Happy trails

by Michael E. C. Gery

By Michael E.C. Gery

Michael Gery 2012This month marks 24 years since I first wore the cloak of Carolina Country. My first day here was Martin Luther King Day 1992.

I had been paddling along in Stumpy Point, mainland Dare County, writing as a freelance, taking odd jobs, running a wheelbarrow for an archeological dig, shooting pictures for a real estate publication, turning into a beach bum. I began following this magazine each month, sent to me as a member of my electric cooperative, Tideland EMC. As any freelancer does when expenses are running higher than income, I pitched myself to Owen Bishop, Carolina Country’s editor at the time.

And the rest is history. It’s a history of my admiration for the beauty and promise of North Carolina. It brought me the pride and satisfaction of working in a cooperative business, where members matter, communities come first and profits are shared.

As editor of Carolina Country, I have roamed rural North Carolina from Sugar Cove Gap to Sugar Loaf Island, from Clay County to Currituck County, from Mount Airy to Airlee Gardens, from Big Butt Mountain to Little Pee Dee River, from High Falls and High Rock to Low Gap and Lowland.

Along the way, of course, I met far too many amazing people to recall here. A former truck driver in Randolph County hosted huge Christmas gatherings twice a year for people with mental and physical disabilities. A Tuscarora daughter in Robeson County provided shelter and job training for the community’s homeless and those whose records prohibited them from finding jobs. A teacher and students in Beaufort County sold doughnuts outside Food Lion to raise money for an overnight trip to New York City. A shop teacher in Bertie County inspired economically underprivileged students to design and build projects for their community. Teachers in Greene County helped all their students become the first in their families to graduate from high school and go to college. Electric utility linemen from Haywood County volunteered to install reliable electric power to a dungeon-like eastern European orphanage that housed deformed children victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Electric cooperatives supported all this work.

The first thing that North Carolina’s electric cooperatives did collectively was to form a statewide association in 1945 and hire a job safety and training supervisor. The second thing they did was to form an Education and Public Relations Committee and adopt a monthly magazine to communicate with members. Today, electric cooperatives throughout the U.S. publish similar magazines for their members. We carry on a proud and important tradition of informing members about the business of their cooperatives, and of supporting progress within their communities. At Carolina Country, we’ve tried to make that a helpful and lively experience.

January 15, a few days before Martin Luther King Day, will be my last day on the job. I can think of Dr. King’s well-known sermon on humility and gratitude: “We never get anywhere in this world without the forces of history and individual persons in the background helping us to get there.” I was well guided on my trail during the past 24 years by family, friends and comrades. They know who they are. And I know who they are.

Thank you all for everything.

About the Author

Michael E.C. Gery is the editor of Carolina Country.

Comments (2)

  • Michael,

    Congratulations for your fine 24 years of service. And the magazine that kept me in touch with your travels so far from home.


    Michael Idoine |
    January 18, 2016 |

  • Thank you,Michael Gery,for your tenure as editor for 24 inspiring years.
    You will always be my favorite North Carolina editor.

    Jeffrey Bryan

    Jeffrey Bryan |
    February 11, 2016 |

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