"Everything happens for a reason" How the Pusser Museum got a new curator
By Jeff Whitten
Julia Stevens is the new Curator at the Buford Pusser Home and Museum in Adamsville. Like a lot of people during the recession, her job search was met with rejection until she found the place she believes she was meant to be.
Stevens grew up in Munford, Tenn., which is about 25 miles north of Memphis.
“It's a small town. It's not as small as Adamsville,” she explained.
Stevens attended the University of Memphis for four years. She has two degrees: one in International Studies and one in French. She also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.
“I lived over there for a while, and that was a lot of fun,” Stevens said.
She worked as a tour operator in Memphis for four years.
“I really wanted to stay in the tourism industry and so it was just a great opportunity,” she said.
“I've always been in love with French, France and Paris, so my French degree was always for me. It was never anything I wanted to pursue as a career. I never had one set thing that I wanted to do. It was just something that I loved. People would always ask me, 'Oh, do you want to be a French teacher?' and I would say, 'I don't know.' I never knew what I wanted to do,” Stevens said.
This changed when she got the opportunity to work as a tour operator.
“I just loved it,” she said.
The only reason she left after four years is that her husband, David Stevens, got a job as the assistant band director at Adamsville Jr./Sr. High School.
Tourism is both Steven's vocation and avocation. She has traveled all over Europe and a little in the United States.
“I love touring, going to museums, learning about things. I also love being on the other side of it. I know what people are looking for when they come here because I've been that person and I always want to be that person. I love to travel,” Stevens said.
Stevens first became aware of Buford Pusser when she toured the museum in the fourth grade.
“I didn't remember a lot of things, but I did know who he was,” Stevens said.
She had also watched Walking Tall when she was a kid.
Even when she was working in Memphis, she promoted the museum.
“We would tell them, 'Hey, there's the Buford Pusser Home and Museum and then head over to Shiloh.' We would direct people over here...It's really funny that it's now my job after talking about it to people,” Stevens said.
She and her husband originally moved to Savannah in 2010, and she became the BPHM curator in July.
“I applied for different jobs but never got any. They all told me that I had too much experience and that they were afraid that I would leave in a short period of time...I just wanted someone to give me a chance,” Stevens said.
She worked as a nanny for an Adamsville couple for a year.
“I truly believe that every single, little thing happens for a reason and if I'd taken any other jobs if they offered them to me, I don't think I'd be here and so I think it all worked out like it was supposed to be,” Stevens said.
The job application process for the curator position was much less frustrating and much more successful than the others since she moved here.
Within three days of applying, she had an interview, and within a week, she was offered the job.
“It was really fast and a great opportunity,” Stevens said.
Stevens couldn't begin her duties immediately. Always the traveler, she and her sister had already scheduled a trip to Europe. She accepted the job on a Friday and then left on her trip the following Sunday. However, she did combine business with pleasure.
“During the whole time we were in Europe, I was reading on Buford Pusser like crazy, trying to soak it all in,” she said.
When asked whether she liked her job, Stevens said, “I love it. It's been a lot of fun meeting people from all over the country. You meet someone new every day. You never know who you're going to meet.”
When asked if she had mastered all the information about Buford Pusser, she said, “No. How can you master every single detail about a man's life in just one month. I've seen all the films. I've read Dwana's book and I've read Bill Wagner's book, so now I'm stepping into all the W. R. Morris books. There are four of them so I'm sure there are still things for me to learn.”