Some background......some of this is my opinions and its all what I remember Alan telling me. I did not know Alan's father, he had died a few years before I met Alan. Apparently Alan in many ways was like his father, neither of them lived by the "program". Rita said the first time she saw Alan's dad he was in the backyard wearing nothing but a Hindu diaper doing some kind of Hindu ritual. Apparently the depression really effected the Bates family fortune. During the depression Alan's father somehow bought an old WW1 biplane. On Sundays Alan's dad would sell airplane rides. In order to intice people to buy a ride, Alan's mother would stand in the crowd with little Alan and she would "buy" a ticket, go for a short ride. After they landed safely, Alan's dad would address the crowd saying "this lovely young lady and her baby just flew in my plane; see folks it's perfectly safe"'.
Alan was fond of telling the story that his father was an electrician and decided to take on Alan as his apprentice. The first day on the job, Alan's dad was on a ladder wiring something up while Alan was on the ground acting as his gofor. His dad ran into some problem and muttered "son of a bitch" Alan thought he said "flip the switch" which Alan promptly did. The jolt knock Alan's dad off the ladder, he landed flat on his back....the first word out of his mouth after he recovered was "YOU'RE FIRED". Alan used to laugh his shortest profession was as an electrician.
Alan and his brother and sister were raised in a wooden victorian house in the Highlands section of Louisville near the corner of Grinstead Dr. and Ray Ave (the house was torn down a number of years ago, the site is now occupied by an office building). By coincident Alan and I had the same first grade teacher, Miss Rudell, although Alan was 20 years ahead of me....I was raised in the same neighborhood (so was C.W. Stoll). When Alan was a teen his family moved to big farm house in Lyndon, a suburb on Louisville's east end. When Alan and Rita returned from California after Alan got out of the Army, they built their house on part of the property.
I did know Alan's mother when I was a Sea Scout. I don't remember much about her except she was crippled with arthritis. She used to write cross word puzzles and she had several published in the NY Times.
The reason Alan was able to do all those really interesting things such as draw steamboat plans, establish the Howard Museum, transform the AVALON into the BELLE was because he didn't work at a regular job. Alan didn't suffer fools lightly and, it seemed to me, that all the bosses Alan ever had he considered fools, so he could never really hold a regular job for long. His independent architect business never flourished, his main source of income was playing trumpet in dance bands and Rita's work as the head of a school cafeteria. Alan was an accomplished musician and played in bands all his life, ending up when Alan was in his 70's in a German ompah band. It was music that brought Alan and George McBride together when they were in high school. It was George who introduced Alan to the river, before that Alan was a railfan.