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Just who or what is an Allen Turner, anyway?

(This is a work in progress. I decided to go ahead and post part of what I have written, primarily to get the link coded into my homepage. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish it up in a fairly reasonable amount of time. I'll keep writing and add to it as frequently as possible until it's finished.)

I'll try not to bore you too badly with this little bit of autobiography and, in the interest of achieving that end, will attempt to be brief. Knowing myself, however, I expect my efforts at brevity will fail dismally!

I was born on February 2, 1949 (yup ... a Groundhog Day baby). As you already know from my home page, I am single. Never have been married ... came close once, but things didn't quite work out. I grew up in the small town in which I live but haven't spent my entire life here. As a matter of fact, I have only been back here for about three years.

I'm an only child, and was born relatively late in the life of my parents, as such things go. My mom was 30 when I was born and my dad was 56. Yes, 56. When my parents got married -- each for the first time -- he was 52 and she was 26. Tee hee. Perhaps there's some genetic justification for the fact that I always have been attracted to younger women! I must have inherited the trait from my dad.

My father owned an insurance agency and my mother was a schoolteacher. My dad had a heart attack while I was still an infant. His heart attack and death came the day before his 57th birthday and his funeral was on his birthday. My mom died of a stroke three years ago on her 75th birthday. (I've often wondered what the statistical probability of that is and can't help feeling a little uncomfortable on the day after my birthday because of the pattern.)

As a youngster, I never was much of an athlete (a trend that has continued well into adulthood). Although I never had the grace or coordination or something to do well at sports, I always very much enjoyed sports as a spectator. I ended up being the manager or scorekeeper or statistician or something of that nature for most of the athletic teams at my high school, and that indirectly led me to my first career (more on that later).

Hmmmm ... I haven't really thought about it until now, but probably the same reasons I never was an athlete (lack of grace and coordination) also have something to do with the fact that I never been able to dance (anything but slowdancing) unless my inhibitions have been sufficiently dulled by so much alcohol that my already limited coordination is equally dulled! :-)

I have had basically three different career paths: journalist, mental health professional and miscellaneous. :-) My educational background, both undergraduate and graduate, is in psychology. My first love as a profession is journalism, but I have no formal training in the field. However, I do have nine years fulltime experience in print journalism, most of that as editor of a small town weekly newspaper. I have also moonlighted and worked part time as a stringer for various wire services and daily newspapers. I have a couple of years experience as news director of a radio station and have done a little stringing for a statewide radio news network and some small market television stations.

As a direct result of my newspaper employment, I met a lot of fascinating people with whom I'd never have come in contact had I not been a newsman.

These included three Presidents of the United States. (One of those presidents, long before he was elected, offered me a job as deputy press secretary for his campaign ... in my typical sage manner of evaluating job offers, I turned him down because there didn't seem to be much of a chance he'd be elected and I couldn't afford to give up my job when he was so obviously going to be out of the running by the time the Iowa caucuses rolled around.) I've met three speakers of the U.S. House (and shared a ride with one of them in a small, four-seater airplane from South Carolina to Washington, D.C.). I've lost count of the number of cabinet officers, U.S. Senators and Congressmen I've met.

My work threw me into contact with lots of celebrities from the entertainment and athletic worlds, too. I have found that, without exception, the bigger they are the nicer they seem to be. It's the "on-the-fringe-of-fame-or-greatness" ones that have an attitude. Without doubt, one of the nicest people I have ever met was the late Jackie Gleason. And one of the biggest jerks was Bob Keeshan (aka Captain Kangaroo). If you ever get me in Pow-Wow chat, I'll tell you why The Captain is such an un-nice person in person.

One of these days, I'll have to get the picture I have of myself with Jackie Gleason scanned and post it here. He gave me his address to send it to in order to have it autographed, but I kept putting it off until it was too late because he had died. I also have a picture of myself with one of those presidents, and should send it to him and get it autographed before his death.

But I digress. Or jump ahead of myself. Or something. As alluded to earlier, my work with my high school's athletics teams got me interested in journalism, because I ended up being the sports reporter for my school for all the local newspapers and broadcast outlets. I became editor of my high school paper my senior year. That same year, I bought time on a local radio station, resold the time to sponsors for a profit and had a weekly high school sports show. That led to an offer for a part time job as disc jockey at the radio station on which I was broadcasting my sports show. During the same period, I was selling articles (sports, feature, etc.) to my county seat newspaper.

I partied a lot in high school and, while I was always a very smart student in elementary and middle school and while my IQ tests showed me to be well above average in intelligence (but well short of genius level, mind you :-)), I neither had learned to study nor was I very motivated academically and my grades suffered in high school. I simply wasn't very interested in doing well in the classroom and, while I squeaked by, I didn't set the world on fire. After graduation from high school, I went on to college, but I didn't really want to. I wasn't in college because I wanted to be; instead, I was there because it was "expected of me" and I was there to satisfy my mother's expectations. Needless to say, that college experience was a disaster! I stayed for three semesters before mustering up the courage to drop out. During the time I was there, I turned in an abysmal performance.

My GPA wasn't helped any by the fact that, about two weeks into the first semester of my sophomore year, I came to terms with the idea that, in fact, I was going to quit school. Only problem was, if I made the announcement then I would have to go back home and go to work. So I kept the decision to myself and just stopped going to class. I never formally withdrew from any classes. Naturally, I flunked everything I took (except phys ed, from which I was exempt from attending class because I was manager of the cross country team and I automatically pulled an 'A' in it). Given that I have a whole semester of F's included in my cumulative GPA, I am kind of proud of the grade point average I ended up with when I finally went back to school more than a decade later.

Anyway, I partied for the rest of the semester, went home for Christmas break and made my announcement about quitting. It wasn't particularly well-received, but I suppose my mom realized there was no reason to throw good money after bad by pressuring me to stay in school when I had already made up my mind. I returned to campus after Christmas, moved my belongings out of the dorm and went back home.

Armed -- not only with a 19-year-old's certainty that he is going to conquer the world but also with, for all intents and purposes, one semester's worth of medoicre college credits -- I began looking for work, sure in my own mind that I would be a millionaire by the time I was 30.

In January of 1969 I obtained a job as news director and disk jockey at the 1000 watt, sunrise-to-sunset, AM radio station in my home town. The prior year, I also had gotten my name on the waiting list for the National Guard and in May 1969 when a slot became available in the local unit, I enlisted. (I was a prime target for the draft, having dropped out of school, and I didn't particularly want to go to Vietnam. I'm not proud of the fact that I joined the Guard to keep from getting drafted, but it is a fact of my life.) I was stationed at Fort Jackson, SC for Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (infantry) from late August 1969 until early January 1970.

Following my four months or so of active duty, I returned to my job at the radio station. I didn't like the work very much (especially the fact that I had to sign the radio station on at sunrise, work on the air for two or three hours, then leave and come back later in the day to complete a split shift which didn't end until I had signed the station off the air at sunset. It made for pretty long days, especially in the summer.

In the fall of 1971 I ran into a friend from a neighboring town at a pizza parlor following a high school football game. That chance meeting proved pivotal, because my friend's father owned two small weekly newspapers nearby. (One of them was the first weekly paper in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service.) I mentioned to the friend, who was familiar with some of the writing I had done in high school, that I would like to get in the newspaper business. Within a week, I had received a call from, interviewed with, and been offered a job by the friend's father.

To Be Continued

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This page was created on August 11, 1996 and is currently under construction.

Last Revised August 18, 1996


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