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Caption: Dan Bullock, far left, poses with members of the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet at Disney World. Pictured, from left are, Bullock, Ken Thiboult, Neel Tyree and Aaron Stratton.

Dan Bullock, 63, has always liked the musical sound of the name Chattanooga.

Indeed, "Chattanooga" tumbles off the tongue like a trill from a piccolo. And then it ends with your mouth slightly agape — Chattanoo-"GAH." Open up, now, let's see those tonsils.

As a member of the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Bullock sang Glenn Miller's 1941 hit "Chattanooga Choo Choo" thousands of times.

His claim to fame is that he was the first actual "Dan" to perform in the Dapper Dans quartet, which dates to 1959 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Some of the Dapper Dans sang together for decades. Often seen near the entrance to the Magic Kingdom on Main Street at Disney World, someone once called them a "speed bump" on the road to Space Mountain.

Bullock and his wife, Sharon, choose Chattanooga to retire to after Dan put in 30 years (1978-2008) as a singer and costume worker at Disneyland and Disney World. (He can't say which costume he wore, per Disney policy, but — wink, wink — it's definitely on the Mount Rushmore of Disney characters.)

The Bullocks live in Hixson now, and Dan sings tenor in a couple of local groups. Sharon is a former Disney employee, too. She worked in reservations for the Disney Cruise Line.

"I loved Central Florida, but I had been there 33 years," Dan said in an recent. "We wanted a change of scenery; some place with seasons."

Dan, who is originally from Orange, California, began singing part time at Disneyland in the late 1970s, and by the early 1980s he had transferred to a full-time gig at Disney World.

His retirement from Disney World was not planned. In December of 2008 he had a stroke, and he knew immediately that the circuitry in his brain had been scrambled.

For a time, he could no longer remember familiar song melodies. Dapper Dans standards such as "Coney Island Baby," "Lida Rose" (from "Music Man") and "Dream a Little Dream" just slipped from his memory.

Losing "Dream a Little Dream" was tough. Dan sang it to Sharon during their courtship, and the quartet sang it at the pair's wedding.

For two years after his stroke, members of the Dapper Dans would meet at Dan's house on Tuesday nights to help him relearn tunes.

"I had no control of pitch," Dan recalled. "Even songs I'd known as a child, I wouldn't recognize."

Slowly, though, these musical get-togethers helped clear the musical pathways to his brain.

After the couple moved here in 2013, Dan began singing with the Choo Choo Chorus in Chattanooga and the Sound of Tennessee chorus in Cleveland. The Cleveland chorus was scheduled to sing at a national competition in California this summer before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

As longtime Disney workers, Dan and Sharon Bullock cannot help but be touched by the closing of the Disney parks due to the virus. Disney World alone, in central Florida, employs about 70,000 workers, they said.

"It's hard to see the parks shut down," said Sharon.

"I'm very sad," said Dan. "I can only imagine what it would feel like [to shut down]. I miss those people."

One day earlier this month, Netflix passed Disney in market capitalization, a measure of company worth.

But once the coronavirus ebbs, don't bet against a comeback by the mouse.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timefreepress.com.

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