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Alan’s first job in Knoxville was with Lakeshore Mental Hospital, from there
he went to Tennessee School for the Deaf. Alan realized pretty quickly that
he did not want to do therapy for the rest of his life. Soon, and to his relief, Alan
was hired to do social work on a federal project taking place in East
Tennessee. The downside was each year one had to worry if there would be
funding, which created a very unstable world. Alan did not obtain the
doctorate in counseling psychology, but found something he enjoyed –
school guidance counselor. While working on the federal project, Alan
started interacting with school guidance counselors and realized they were

doing the kind of work he wanted to do and most importantly, they had
stable employment.

Alan was quickly hired at Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge. During
this time, Oak Ridge passed a rule that all guidance counselors, principals,
and administration working for an Oak Ridge school had to live in Oak Ridge.
“I was not interested in living in Oak Ridge,” explains Alan. Alan’s first
experience with Oak Ridge up to that point had been protesting Hiroshima
Day with a protest group he found when he moved to Knoxville. His first
impression of Oak Ridge was that they made nuclear bombs and he no
interest in living there at all.

Robert Moss, the principal that hired Alan, and someone that Alan will
forever consider a great mentor and still gets together with to this day, told
Alan to just come work for him and it would be alright. Alan worked for Mr.
Moss for two years at Jefferson Middle School and during the second year
the Oak Ridge school superintendent called Mr. Moss and informed him for
Alan to return for his third year he would need to move to Oak Ridge or quit.
Alan signed the contract to return knowing that over the summer he would
have to move to Oak Ridge. Not content with this, a week later Alan called
Mr. Moss and instructed him to rip up the contract, he quit.

The following school year Alan worked at Farragut High School as a
guidance counselor. The end of his year at Farragut High School he received
a job offer from Sevier County High School and accepted the offer. Towards
the end of the school year at Sevier County High School Alan received a call
from his former principal, Mr. Moss, at Jefferson Middle School telling him
the residency rule in Oak Ridge had changed and asked him to come back to
Jefferson Middle School, Alan accepted. Alan spent the next 25 years at
Jefferson Middle School, predominantly as the guidance counselor but
towards the end, he was wanting a new role. During his employment at
Jefferson Middle School, Alan’s wife, Karen, was attending the University of
Tennessee and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and was pursuing
a master’s degree in information sciences. “I really loved everything she
talked about when she came home and I really loved books,” Alan states.
With the exposure to information sciences that Karen gave Alan he decided
to go back to school at the age of 40 and pursue a second master’s degree,
this time in information sciences. This degree fit Alan well and he continued
his employment at Jefferson Middle School without interruption. When the
librarian left Alan made a smooth transition from guidance counselor to the
school librarian and remained there for 13 years until retirement in 2014.

One could say that Alan started two careers around the same time.
When his professional career started he was also taking on the most
challenging of all career titles – father.

Alan and Karen’s first home was in South Knoxville, a 1941 wood-
frame house that Alan describes in one word, “terrible.” They bought the
home in 1983, six days before their daughter was born. “It was horrible,
nothing was out of boxes and all of sudden this baby was there. She
weighed 4 lbs. and 1 oz. when we brought her home,” explains Alan.
Alan is still perplexed on why the hospital let them bring home a baby
that was 4 lbs. and 1 oz. and 4’5” long to a terrible house with no heat and
no air. Being first-time parents they thought that is what you do. “The baby
is born and you go home,” thought Alan. Meanwhile, Alan explains, his
parents were looking at our baby, looking at us, and thinking, “Oh my gosh!”
“Parenthood is the best thing I have ever done,” states Alan. In my
profession and dealing with troubled youth it was easy to start panicking and
thinking, “Oh my gosh, she is going to get involved in this or that, or this is
going to go wrong,” explains Alan. He states that people kept telling him
how sweet his daughter is but for him to wait until she is a certain age.
However, at each age he was warned about, she would reach that age and
was still a great daughter and had no problems with her. Alan sincerely
shares, “I am super close to my daughter to this day and she is 34 years
old.” When asked what values he felt like he instilled in his daughter, he
proudly exclaims, “Well, she is politically liberal. Thank goodness! She is
passionate about her politics. Thank Goodness! She likes good music. Thank
goodness!” Alan goes on to explain that they have a true kinship and music
has helped them have a close relationship.

Alan states he is a young for a Bob Dylan fan. In the 60’s he was a
mere child and was not aware of Bob Dylan, he was listening to Conway
Twitty and Loretta Lynn with his parents. It was not until the 70’s that Alan
discovered Bob Dylan. In the ’70s none of Alan’s friends was into Dylan, his
friends, he explains, “Were into the disco garbage and all that stuff. They
were into the Bee Gees and doing the Hustle. I was just never into that.”
Alan explains that he was out of a step generationally as far as the music he
favored and related to. He liked the music of the late ’60s like Janice Joplin
and his favorite band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Alan, being young for
that genre of music, felt his daughter would have no interest in it and he
would not try to influence her musical taste or teach her to like it. However,
his daughter had a surprise for him.

On days that Knox County schools were out and his daughter had to
go to work with Alan, she would watch VHS tapes of The Beatles to stay
occupied. It was during these days that she fell in love with The Beatles and
to this day can still tell you their birthdays. Alan explains that as she
explored the Beetles she discovered they revered Bob Dylan which she knew
Alan was totally immersed in. In her mind, if The Beatles liked Bob Dylan
she should give him a try and she did. Alan’s daughter told him that for her
thirteenth birthday she wanted to go see Bob Dylan wherever he was
playing. Alan was overjoyed to hear this and wholeheartedly agreed. Their
first Bob Dylan concert was in Chattanooga, that evening Alan made a
promise to his daughter than anytime she wanted to see Bob Dylan he would
take her, no questions asked. Alan states, “For the next thirteen consecutive
years we saw Bob Dylan each year at least once, sometimes three times. We
travelled to Virginia, Nashville, Birmingham, all over the region. So that was
a real bond that we shared.”

Alan says there is no reason for him to be politically liberal and open-minded

coming from where he did, the family he did, the city he grew up in,
and he credits Bob Dylan for showing him there is a different way to see the
world. The bond he and his daughter shared over Bob Dylan was a catalyst
for many deep and thought-provoking conversations they had over those
thirteen years of travelling to Bob Dylan concerts. Those memorable
conversations consisted of talking about the world, the meaning of the
songs, and of course politics. Alan thinks that for his daughter, like himself,
Bob Dylan helped her find herself. Alan describes his daughter as, “Super
kind like her mother and a dedicated professional.” Alan’s daughter followed
in his footsteps and is employed at Jefferson Middle School where she
teaches English. The last six years of Alan’s employment and the first six
years of her employment they both were at Jefferson Middle School and
worked closely together, the librarian and the English teacher.
Alan quickly adapted to an enjoyable new role – grandfather. He
explains that for him and Karen being grandparents is not much different
than being a parent except they can be more indulgent in some respects. “If
the grandkids want to ride the trolley to the Old City and get hot chocolate
and cookies we are going to do it. I could not have done that when their
mother was their age because we could not afford it. Money was a whole
different issue,” Alan says. Alan says that he and Karen are more indulgent
with the grandkids but in some respects are stricter than they were with
their daughter. Alan states, “I feel it is important that children have
boundaries and learn to respect other people. Children don’t naturally get
that and have to learn that the world does not revolve around them.” Alan

hopes he can open the world up to them by showing them different things.
For example, last fall when his granddaughter was eight he took her to New
York City. He is aware that with him and Karen living downtown has changed
the way their grandchildren’s life would have been like. Having previously
lived in West Knoxville, he knows that his grandchildren would not be in the
middle of the downtown festivals and activities if they had not chosen to
move downtown. Alan explains that the grandchildren’s other grandparents
live in the country and every weekend they get both worlds. Alan declares,
“I think that is awesome!”

Up next: Moving downtown, the start of the blog, the power of the ponytail,
and Alan’s fashion inspiration.