Begalka: Author promotes history of Illinois' roads
UNION – An old adage reminds us that knowing where you are is essential to knowing where you are going.
Author Stan “Tex” Banash took that philosophy to heart.
“I tell kids: ‘I don’t care where you travel around, but see your state first,’” said Banash, who penned “Roadside History of Illinois.”
Banash, of Norwood Park, will present third installment of the McHenry County Historical Society’s Sampler lecture series at 7 p.m. Monday, April 7, in the historical society museum, 6422 Main St. in Union.
The Niles native will offer attendees a road map of short trips of 50 to 100 miles across the state – including historic sites and towns.
“I just block out the 21st Century and go back to the way it was 175 years ago,” said the lifelong history buff.
“I’ve always been interested in Illinois. If you set aside the corruption, mismanagement and underachievement, we have a wondrous story to tell. Unfortunately, many people think the state is just about Abraham Lincoln.”
Banash served at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex., before earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in urban studies from Roosevelt University.
He has two earlier books to his credit: “Best of Dee Brown’s West” and “Dee Brown’s Civil War Anthology.”
Dee Alexander Brown wrote the celebrated “Bury My Knife at Wounded Knee.”
Banash admits to being a “closet cowboy.” He got saddled with his nickname, “Tex,” for his love of western wear, and he earned a living operating his own public relations firm, rather than riding the range.
But that doesn’t mean he no longer yearns for wide-open skies and a seat at a corner diner.
“When I have to stop for a meal, I leave the interstate and drive two to three miles to the nearest town to meet people,” Banash said.
“Chicago people want to go to Wisconsin or northern Indiana. They think that is more interesting. But we helped tame the West with the invention of barbed wire [DeKalb].
“People don’t know how we got here. They pass historic sites and have no idea,” he said.
The cost for the program is $10, payable in advance or at the door. For information or to buy tickets, call 815-923-2267 or visit www.gothistory.org. The next Sampler lecture is at 7 p.m. Monday, April 21. “Behind the Badge” offers a look behind the Dick Tracy comic strip with its technical adviser AMTRAK Police Sgt. Jim Doherty.
• Kurt Begalka is the McHenry County Historical Society administrator.