My Uncle Al

Alfred Hudnall was kind of an odd ball character, but he had a big influence on my early life as he took my cousin Will (his son) and I to the movies every Saturday when I was visiting my dad in the summer (my parents divorced when I was two). Because of Al I developed my love of cinema and storytelling. I think I owe a lot to him for that.

But what I wanted to talk about here was a memory I had of him. I just watched the film the Crazies, which was a remake of an old horror film. Toward the end there is an atomic explosion and the two characters look at it in awe. Well, my uncle Al was in the service during WWII. Here’s a picture of him with my dad when he was a kid.

Al told me that he was one of those troops who were tested on during nuke tests. He had to get in a ditch when a nuclear bomb went off miles away, and he was told to put his forearm over his eyes and close them when the bomb goes off. He said when the explosion happened, the light was so intense, he could see the bones in his arm.

So I don’t think the characters in The Crazies would have been able to see after staring into a nuclear explosion. In fact, I know they wouldn’t having read about the effects many years ago of people who had. It would burn out their retinas.

In case you were wondering Al lived will into his 80s. He died in a car crash at around age 88. He never had cancer.

He was my great-uncle, being my grandfather Perry’s younger brother. Perry was in WWI as a sailor. From him I heard a little about the great war when I was a kid.

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  1. Yeah, the quote from Oppenheimer, “Brighter than a thousand suns” was no exaggeration.

    On a sort of side note, my uncle, Ronald Fowler, was the black sheep of the family, and finally became such an embarrassment he was pretty much shunned. He died a few years back and my father was the executor of his estate, and discovered Ronald had been systematically defrauding the welfare system of Alberta for decades. He was never caught.
    What put me off him forever was the first time he met Tomoko, he abruptly left my grandmother’s house and she later reported distraughtedly that “he was pissed off I’d married some goddamn chink.”
    And yet…
    He was, in an odd way, amazingly influential on my life. He was the one who gave me a big box of comics (all with their cover stripped off–typical) and later, a box of cassette tapes (undoubtedly liberated from some poor sucker’s car). The comics were my first introduction to them, and the Jack Kirby stuff–Two Gun Kid and Kid Colt–really had an effect on me. The tapes were from someone who liked Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and the like. I’ve been a pro rock fan ever since.
    He also taught me how to handicap the horses.

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