I don’t remember the sound of his voice. I remember his words. And in our seventeen years of interactions, he still impacts my life to this day.
He was athletic. Family pictures show him in a baseball uniform, probably from a fast-pitch softball league. He played baseball and football, too. In high school, he got in trouble for “teasing” a 200+ pound defensive player (he himself weighed less than 140 pounds). The coach benched him for not running as fast as he could. He told us that he was running as fast as he could! He also would, on occasion, lift his pants leg up and press in where his shin bone should have been. It was soft there. The bone had grown back to the side of the lower leg after being broken. He, while playing football, was stepping over a player and was hit in the front and back of the lower leg, shattering the bones.
He was a sportsman. He hunted, of which I have little knowledge. You’d have to ask my brother about those stories. He fished, of which I have some more knowledge, mostly before I was a teenager. I was told he didn’t like to eat fish, but he enjoyed fishing. I remember trips to a local lake with him and my older brother. We’d fish. He’d show incredible patience with me, teaching me to cast the bait, to set the hook, and to have me sit in right place in the boat when we made a run from one spot to another. I have his aluminum tackle box and some of his lures, that is the lures I didn’t leave in the trees while we fished together on a local lake. I have a few of his books on fishing, too.
He was a craftsman. After having to medically retire, he bought a scroll saw and began to make a variety of woodwork projects. He made address signs out of redwood, initial key chains out of aromatic red cedar (which led to me loving the smell and look of red cedar). He made a napkin holder, using the image of a cardinal from a bird seed package for mom. He made a replica of a Fender Stratocaster for my brother. And I’m sure he made something for my sisters, too. For me, he made an elephant book shelf for my collection of Tarzan books and a Star Trek™ delta shelf for some of my Star Trek™ books.
He was an avid reader. I remember many an evening, he would read a book while sitting on the couch, the lamp on the coffee table to his right illuminating him and his book. He read westerns predominately, but he also read to learn. His library included books on fishing, sports, drawing, and history. I have a few of these books in my library now. I remember him teaching me to give thought to the books that I read. He wanted me to read books that would help me, that would educate me, and properly entertain me. I wish I could remember his exact words, but his philosophy about obtaining books or just reading books became mine.
He was generous. I was told that he was generous, maybe to a fault. I remember being told of how he treated the customers when he ran his own service station. He was generous with his time to me as I think of him teaching me how to be a switch hitter in baseball, how to properly field a grounder or a pop fly, or to cast artificial bait. I remember him standing beside me, a number 3 washtub about 15 yards away, telling me where to land the yellow practice plug as if we were on the lake fishing. “Six inches to the left of the tub. One foot on the other side of the tub. At the base of the tub at the front.” I still hang baits in trees from time to time, but I still remember his words when I cast the bait, whether I do so right-handed or left-handed. His coaching led me and still leads me to ask not just what was wrong with the cast but also what’s the right way to cast. And that applies to life, too. Don’t just ask, “What went wrong?” Also ask, “How do I do it right?”
He was respected. Though only about 5’8” or 5’9”, he commanded respect. I saw it my senior year in high school. I had gotten sick after the morning practice of two-a-day practices. I told him, and he told me to call the school. I spoke to an assistant coach, who told me I really needed to be there. So, that’s what I reported. He took me to the school, and we walked in the field house together. He then spoke to the head coach, reported my sickness, my call, and what I was told. He then placed me under the head coach’s responsibility. He didn’t raise his voice. He just communicated what happened and his expectations for my care, man to man. I don’t recall the head coach’s response at that moment. The head coach’s response on the practice field I remember. It showed respect for this man who defended his son while honoring what his son reported to him. A few years after his death, I heard a friend of one of my sister’s say, “When he came in the room, he just commanded respect.”
He was respectful to others. I myself never heard him bad-mouth a coach or an official. I don’t recall him ever saying anything negative about anyone, now that I’ve thought about it. I’ve tried to imitate him in that respect.
He’s not world-famous. Yet, today, on the centennial of his (and his twin brother’s) birth, he is remembered. He has given me part of his name and part of his twin brother’s name. It’s a name that I’ve learned to be proud of and with which to have fun. I’m balding (my first name in Latin means “bald). I’m not a twin, but my son and I are close enough in looks (my middle name in Hebrew means “twin”). I like to think myself smart and intelligent (my last name means “bright mind” or “famous,” depending on the source and understanding of origin.)
In religious circles, when I introduce myself, my first name sometimes captures attention. “Hi, I’m Calvin Hubbard.” And in some situations, I’ll go one step farther, and with a smile, say, “I’m Calvin, son of John Calvin.” The response is one of surprise and skepticism. “No, really, my dad’s name is John Calvin Hubbard.” I then tell the story of my name. My name is Calvin Thomas Hubbard. My first and middle names are the middle names of my dad and his twin brother. My brother has our dad’s twin brother’s first name. And the middle of my three sisters has the feminine form of Dad’s name for her middle name, and is often called “Johni.”
Dad’s first name is Hebrew in origin and means “graced by YHWH (the LORD).” His middle name is my first name. And he has given me and my four siblings his last name. Maybe it’s us who have been graced by the Lord on the centennial of his birth.
John Calvin Hubbard was born July 22, 1922, and lived on this earth for sixty years and three days. I knew him for 17 years. My sister Becky knew him for 25 years. My brother James knew him for 27 years. My sister Johnette knew him for 30 years. My sister Gayle knew him for 38 years. Yet, his influence upon me and my siblings still resounds one hundred years after his birth.
I may not remember the sound of his voice. I remember his words, his wisdom, his character, his conduct. They still influence me and my siblings today.
Thanks, Dad, for all you’ve given us.