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mail@authorsguildoftn.org    +1.865.254-3054 and 865.657-9560.

Jerry grew up in a Coast Guard family who moved quite a bit, with the result that he attended 8 different public schools. These circumstances provided him with some unusual experiences and insights into the many subcultures that exist in the northern and midwestern states. Experiences in the south began for him when he attended Centre College of Kentucky. 

During that time he worked as a deckhand on an ocean going dredge boat off the Texas coast for two summers. This work provided him with additional cultural interactions with a large number of Hispanics and people from "Louisiana Bayou country". Upon graduating from Centre, he pursued an M. S. degree in school psychology at Miami University of Ohio. Within days of graduating from Miami U. he was experiencing basic training in the U. S. Army. He went on to complete Advanced Infantry Training and Infantry Officers Candidate School to become commissioned as a second lieutenant. Reluctant Lieutenant: From Basic to OCS in the Sixties is his memoir of that experience. Upon being commissioned, he was assigned to the JFK Special Warfare Center, Ft. Bragg, N. C. The army gave Jerry additional opportunities to work with many individuals from diverse backgrounds and nationalities. When he completed his military obligation, he worked for two years as the only school psychologist in seven inner city schools of St. Petersburg, Florida, which were being integrated for the first time. His many experiences with diverse cultures served him well during that stressful time. From there, Jerry enrolled in the University of Tennessee's doctoral program in school psychology. Two years later he received his Ph. D. degree and began working for the Little Tennessee Valley Educational Cooperative (LTVEC), assisting area school systems to develop their school psychology programs. In 1976 he became the executive director of LTVEC and held that position until 2014. During Jerry's tenure at LTVEC many innovative programs for children were developed that received regional and national acclaim. One of those programs became the focus of the book Rosa Kennedy and he wrote, A School for Healing: Alternative Strategies For Teaching At-Risk Students. At this time Jerry is developing a collection of short stories that relate unusual and noteworthy experiences he has in his early life and into his adulthood. They all reflect some surprising displays of human kindness.

Books by Jerry H. Morton

Interview with Author

Why did you like to write?

From my earliest childhood memories into the present, I have been an oral storyteller. Much of my professional life as a school psychologist, educational cooperative director and the training director of a doctoral internship program in school psychology that was accredited by the American Psychological Association has been spent writing confining and detailed government reports. Writing about situations that I have observed or been a part of during my life that are not forced into constraining boundaries is fun. 

How are you able to remember the true stories in such detail?

I just do. You may notice that in some of the stories I will switch from the past tense to the present tense. When I start telling the story and recalling details of the event, I seem to have returned to that time and be living in it once again. The present tense narrative conveys that sense of immediacy I experience. 

Was Reluctant Lieutenant your first publication of true stories?

No, The School for Healing contains several true stories relating events at the alternative school. I told those stories when it was appropriate to make a point concerning a specific strategy used by the school. The identities of the people involved in the stories were protected, as was the case in Reluctant Lieutenant. 

What are you writing now?

I am writing a series of short stories that tell of events in my life that I have observed or been a participant in from my early childhood to the present. 

What seems to be the theme of those stories?

The spontaneous display of compassion and kindness by children and adults when circumstances of the moment appear to have removed any reasonable hope that such compassion or kindness can be present is the natural story theme. People are so wonderful. They develop different belief systems based upon their cultural and personal experiences. We all work hard to maintain those ingrained belief systems regardless of mounting evidence that there are flaws those beliefs. It is the inherent kindness within each of us that allows us to break free from the trap of thinking we always know what we know to be true.

My Latest Blogs

06 August 2017
Short Stories

                                                                              Insights

                                                     

                                 By

 

                                                                          Jerry Morton

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16 April 2015
Short Stories
  I wasn’t paying attention to my speed.  Maybe I was doing 60.  While I was in the fast lane, there really weren’t any cars to pass in the right one.  I just wasn’t thinking about driving.  I just was.  My thoughts were on how pleasant the afternoon was.  I just needed to meet some faculty members at the university.  They were old friends.   We had arranged the meeting about two weeks ago.  It’s always hard to match up with busy people.    I was going to arrive a little early.  Then it was just seven miles to home.  I’d get home a little early today.  That’s always nice.   Looking ahead, it wasn’t right.  What I saw wasn’t right.  About four miles ahead in the westbound lane there was a cloud of smoke.  It was right at the end of the Paper Mill Road overpass bridge.  The smoke was bluish white.  Instinctively, I began slowing down.  There was a car across the grass median on my left going west.  After that, there were no westbound cars.  There seemed to be a traffic jam behind the blue smoke.  The cars were moving, but they were behind the smoke.  No one passed the smoke.  There was this big space between the car that just passed my left side going west and the smoke.  I slowed even more trying to make sense of it.   A car sped past me on the right.  It just went on by.  Glancing into the rearview mirror, I saw that the few cars behind me were slowing, too.  The blue smoke moved beyond the bridge.  As it did, a tracker-trailer truck moved with it.  The eighteen-wheeler was moving pretty fast.  Traffic to the rear of it slowed.  The traffic jam was thick.  Why didn’t anyone pass the truck? It was in the fast lane.  The lane to the right and in front of the truck was clear.  Why didn’t they pass? My eyes saw it all.  My mind couldn’t make sense of it.   I continued to slow down as the mass came towards me.  The blue smoke was in front of the eighteen-wheeler.  My God!  There’s a car pinned against the front of the tractor-trailer.  The blue-white smoke is from his tires.  The car’s tires are sliding across the road, burning with the friction of being erased.   Maybe some of the smoke is coming from the tires of the semi.  I can’t tell.  They are moving fast towards me.     I am barely moving.  If the driver of the car allows his front wheels to turn just the slightest, he’s going to roll his car.  He’s dead.  He has to hold those wheels steady.  If the trucker puts too much pressure on his brakes and ends up bumping the car, the car will roll. Both drivers have to do this perfectly or the passenger car driver is dead.   The mass is slowing ever so slowly.  Perfection or death, there is no other option.   I’m about at a stop when it hits me.  If the car rolls, it will go into the grass median, down its little dip and then right up the slope into my lane.  I will be part of the wreck.  This thought brings my car to a stop.  I stop right there.  Right there in the fast lane on the interstate going east to downtown.  I come to a complete stop.   The side-ways car sandwiched to the front of the eighteen-wheeler is coming towards me.  God, I can see it’s a black man.  A black man is driving the car.  The trucker has to be white.  There has been trouble here.  Racial trouble carrying over from the late sixties is still here.  A decade has gone by, yet it could reappear with little or no provocation.  The black man is frozen.  Both hands are on the wheel.  He is fighting to keep the wheels steady as they slide sideways in perfect formation.  They parallel the front of the semi.  His tires are being erased.  They could blow at any second.  He will roll.   Oh Lord, please help!  I see a woman in the front passenger side.  Her mouth is open.  She is screaming.  Her hands are pressed against the window as if to hold the grill of the semi from pushing through.  Death rides in the air.   I am frozen in place.  These people are so close to death.  The mass of metal is slowing to a stop.  It gently stops.  We are stopped beside each other.  The black man instantly throws open the driver’s door.  He runs to the rear of the car and then towards the cab of the semi.  At the same moment, the white trucker is opening his door, climbing down the steps of the truck and jumping onto the asphalt.  Then he’s running towards the driver.  Oh no, I don’t want a confrontation.  This could be a disaster on top of a miracle.   The two men rush towards each other as fast as they can run.  They collide into each other’s arms.  They embrace each other.  They rock in each other’s arms.     Wiping tears from my face, I drive by them.  There’s a meeting to attend.          
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