My father’s name was James Vernon Huddleston. He was a non-athletic, bookish sort who worked in an office for the State of Michigan. As a small child, I wasn’t all that impressed with my father. He was a nice man. A funny man. However, he wasn’t very flashy nor did he have the sort of job a kid could brag about to her friends. The coolest thing he had was a vehicle with an emblem of the State of Michigan on the door. One night each week my father would dress up in a U.S. Naval uniform and drive off to “the navy station”. I remember telling kids in the neighborhood that he was a cop one night a week. A sort of super hero all dressed up in his official looking uniform in his official looking vehicle.
When I was around seven or eight I was racing another child on the sidewalk in front of our houses on bikes. Being the third of three daughters mine was a hand-me-down bike…the sort of bike where the chain was constantly falling off and such. During the race the brakes on my bike locked and I went soaring headfirst over the handlebars to land flat on my back on the sidewalk. I was stunned. I remember raising my head from the sidewalk and watching my father leap from the cement porch…clearing all three steps in a single bound. It was like a slow motion movie reel. I don’t know whether I said this out loud or not, but I know it went through my mind.
In that instant my father had shaken off Clark Kent and flown to his child’s side as Superman. Unfortunately, I lost my father one month after I turned twenty. I miss him and all of the stories he never told me; about his years in the Navy during World War II…about what really went on at “the navy station”…about the dreams he had for himself and for his family. I regret all the questions I never asked. He was a nice man. A funny man. Kind of nerdy. James Vernon Huddleston was a cool dad.