Through the middle of Saint Augustine is a street only two tenths of a mile long. The name of the road is Hypolita Street and on the northwest corner where Saint George Street crosses Hypolita stands the Columbia Restaurant. Somewhere along the two tenths of a mile, was the private home of Jack D. Hunter.
Jack D. Hunter – it seems an ordinary name, but Mr. Hunter was so much more than an ordinary man. He was born in 1921 and was one of the countless quiet and extraordinary who would always claim he was only an ordinary participant in World War II. He passed away early Monday morning on April 13, 2009.
From news reports and articles written about and by Mr. Hunter, he saw more tragedy and misery during his time as an officer in the United States Army. And as with all writers, which he later went on to become, all of his experiences served him well in penning some truly great novels.
Hunter’s most famous novel, The Blue Max, is a story of a World War I German aviator which was picked up by Hollywood and made into the movie of the same name staring George Peppard and Ursula Andress. Hunter went on to write 15 or so more novels and served as a writing tutor for local journalists in the Northeast Florida area. He was, without a doubt, a writer’s writer.
And he was one of my heroes. Imagine my surprise when I found out he lived in the same area. I told my wife I would have to try to meet Mr. Hunter in the near future.
Over the course of time, I have been meaning to try to meet with him. As one of my pilot-A&P friends once told me, he had a lot of “roundtoits” in his tool box.
“What’s a ‘roundtoit’?” I asked (Jeff has a lot of really neat tools, some of which I have never seen or heard of before).
“You know, one of those things I need to do, but I have to get around to it,” Jeff said.
Finding Jack Hunter was one of my roundtoits; unfortunately, this roundtoit didn’t wait long enough for me to get up around to it. Same thing happened with my Uncle Buddy. Some roundtoits just won’t keep.
The lesson a simple – do now what you have to do while you can. This includes your own writing.
My wife and I enjoy dining at the Columbia every now and then. I often wonder now how many times we may have shared the restaurant with Jack D. Hunter.
© 2010 J. Clark