How to Make Working for a Living an Adventure –
One Man’s Remarkable Story
Most folks that I know began their adult years finding a part-time job and then choosing a career based on their education, passion or, in most cases, simply availability. Once you got your foot in the door, you pretty much stuck with it until one glorious day you were able to retire. Some may have ventured into another line of work looking for higher pay, a better “fit” or a more desirable commute. Few, however, have had the job experiences of Celebration’s Alex Morton.
Alex was born to his parents Blanch and Jay Morton on December 10, 1932. Although he was raised in the Bronx district of New York, it was in Florida where his lifetime of occupational adventures began. In 1947, he moved to Florida to be nearer to his mom and stepfather where he continued his education at Miami Tech High School – a trade school for plumbers and electricians.
After graduation, his mom sent him to Pennsylvania to attend Military College for a year. In 1952, he applied to officer candidate school, passed the test and was sent to Ft. Jackson in Columbus SC for his basic training. After completing a leadership course that lasted for six weeks, Alex achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant at the ripe old age of 19. He still holds the record for the youngest commissioned officer during the Korean War.
He entered flight school in 1953 and was discharged as a corporal from regular army to active reserve and was sent overseas as a helicopter evacuation pilot. His primary duties included taxiing troops from one camp to another and spotting soldiers in need of assistance…similar to what you might remember from watching the TV series M*A*S*H. After a year, he was transferred to Japan for three months but was unable to fly due to a hepatitis diagnosis.
He continued his career in the military until 1956. After the war, he attended Army language school, learned to speak Greek and wrote over 50 military job descriptions.
In 1958, he moved back to Florida and joined a friend who owned a pool cleaning and repair business. One year later, Alex started his own pool maintenance company aptly named Clear Pool in Hollywood, Florida and grew the business until he owned and operated five trucks. In 1963, he sold his company for $60,000…nearly $100,000 in today’s market.
That same year, he started the “Dog Derby.” Not to be confused with Greyhound races that had been popular since the early 1900’s, these 100-yard contests were open to all dogs…except this speedy breed. Groups of motley canines competed once a year in one of three weight based categories (small, medium and large) and drew spectators in the range of four to five thousand. This new sport spread nationally and remained a popular annual event though the 70’s and 80’s.
While Alex was building his resume’, his biological father was publishing five newspapers in the Hialeah, Florida area. When his father became ill in 1965, Alex went to help him by selling ads. He took over the operation in 1969 when his father retired, eventually selling the entire enterprise in 1971.
During his stint as a newspaper publisher, Alex realized there were no trade magazines for flight attendants, flight services or their unions. Recognizing an opportunity, Alex began work on a series of publications to fill this void and introduced Onboard Stewardess, Stewardess News and the bi-monthly Airline Food and Flight Service Directory. His expanding knowledge of the flight industry prompted him to write a book entitled, “How to be a Stewardess.” He also launched other periodicals focusing on trends in outsourced food services for correctional and healthcare facilities.
In 1996, he saw an article in the Miami Herald announcing a new community in central Florida that was being planned by Disney. Intrigued, he packed up his daughter Dawn and son Eddie and moved to Celebration where he discovered a myriad of new possibilities where he could channel his talents. He began by starting Boy Scout Troop #125 but didn’t stop there. He continued his involvement in the town by becoming active in: the Rotary Club of Celebration, initially serving as president; the Veterans Club as a charter member, treasurer and trustee; the area JAYCEES (Junior Chamber of Commerce) and of course, The Celebrators.
Veteran, entrepreneur, publisher…Alex Morton has never been one to “let grass grow under his feet.” At 88 years young, he continues to support the organizations he helped establish here in Celebration. He is a fixture at regularly scheduled meetings and enthusiastically participates in planned activities. In addition, he is currently in the process of writing his memoirs signaling another career path yet to explore. The adventure continues.