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Finding aid of the J. Max Turner Writings
Coll2008-073  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection consists of the writings, 1954-2006, of J. Max Turner (1922-2007). The materials include drafts and final paper and electronic versions of novels, and final and draft scripts, as well as performance materials (programs, photographs, and newspaper reviews) of plays.
Background
J. Max Turner was born in St. Charles, a small village just west of Saginaw, Michigan, on July 25, 1922, the son of a coalminer, who abandoned the family when Turner was a young child. He grew up in Saginaw, graduating from Arthur Hill High School in 1940. He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy, following the lead of his four brothers, all of whom were in the merchant marine or the naval reserve. He continued to serve after the United States entered World War II, but was mustered out when the navy established a policy that no two members of a family could serve in the same unit. He later enlisted in the army, participating in the Normandy invasion and in the Pacific. Early in the 1940s, despite the fact he had an active homosexual sex life, he married, converting to Catholicism to do so. After Turner was mustered out, he and his wife hitchhiked west, and at some time hired on with the Drew Traveling Carnival. They then returned to Saginaw, where their two sons were born; shortly afterwards they divorced in a messy court case, his wife accusing Turner of homosexuality. After the divorce, Turner again took to the road. In Chicago he associated with members of the Ballet Theatre; in San Francisco he worked for some time for the madam, Sally Stanford, as one of her "boys", and became friends with the "male actress" Charles Pierce. He also worked in Morocco as a clerk for an international construction company before returning once again to Saginaw, where he worked as a salesman. In 1961, he became manager of the ladies' shoe department at a department store in Huntington, West Virginia, where he met William C. Hein, the local district manager for Chevrolet Motors. The two became partners in 1962, remaining together until Turner's death. Later that year, Turner and Hein moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where Turner opened a record shop; for six years the couple also operated a successful gay-nineties-themed eatery, "Belle's Sandwich Parlor and Public Pub". When bootleg tapes caused record sales to wane in the 1970s, Turner closed the record shop and in 1979 the couple opened a lampshade and lamp repair business. They moved to Tampa, Florida, in 1984, where they also opened a lampshade store until Turner retired in 1989.
Extent
3 archive cartons + 2 archive half-cartons 1.7 linear feet
Restrictions
Researchers wishing to publish material from this collection must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, which holds the copyright to the material.
Availability
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.