“I’m Your Huckleberry…”
Have you ever really pondered what the most important characteristics of a good friend are? Aside from obvious traits like trust, honesty, loyalty, and supportiveness, it is a question that has no right or wrong answer. And like a fingerprint, unique to you; no two people are identical in their definition, especially when it comes to their blueprint for a perfect friend. And we all need several friendships that fulfill our specific needs. And we all know acquaintances with false pretences or hidden agendas are a time a dozen; it is the steadfast comrade, with no underhanded motive that is the illusive creature, on the brink of extinction.
In the 1993 film ‘Tombstone’, Doc Holliday delivered a matter-of-fact statement to Wyatt Earp; “I’m your huckleberry,” he said. A quote that has debated meaning to this day, but if you ask me Holliday’s inflection and conviction leaves no uncertainty that his idiom means the widely assumed; ‘I’m just the man you're looking for’ or ‘I am your steadfast friend’. Earp confirms the intended context is understood with a simple, “Thanks for always being there, Doc.” One thing is for certain, a true friend is hard to come by, even as told by the legends of days gone by. So I am honored to declare that I have been blessed with a new friendship in my life this year, and if you are a frequent reader of the Muskego Chronicle, you may just recognize his name.
I was on-assignment at In-pro stadium, to photograph the Muskego Hitmen semi-pro football team’s first regular season game. I had done some pre-season pieces and scrimmage coverage for the Chronicle, and had noticed the team’s photographer several times. At the pre-season game, one week earlier, against Burlington, I snapped a picture of the photographer focused intently on the game; even then, I found his dedication intriguing. So this game I decided to approach him and introduce myself. As strange as it may sound, I get a sixth sense, if you will, and usually not to far off. Something in my gut told me that this person is a genuinely unique person; as it turns out I couldn’t have been more accurate. I remember thinking; even then, ‘we are going to be good friends’. So far, I am right about that too. His acknowledgement of several of my websites served as flattery, and I was humbled that he was aware of my work, and voiced his appreciation.
Jeff Ernst, of Boomerz World Photography, had quickly become the official team photographer for the Muskego Hitmen, and a regular contributor for the Chronicle, submitting both photos as well as recaps of the Hitmen games. He also quickly became someone I am proud to call a friend.
At the time, Jeff was trying his hand at portrait photography, and he asked my advice because he was aware of my formal education in this area. When I learn it was his daughter Mandie that was getting married and needed engagement photos, I immediately offered to lend a hand.
The day we took the engagement photos, all of my assumptions about Jeff’s character were confirmed by his daughter, her fiancée, and his darling granddaughter; he is one of those rare what-you-see-is-what-you-get kinds of people. Needless to say, I obviously volunteered to photograph the upcoming wedding that he had intended to attempt alone. There was no way I would stand by idle while my new friend was going to try to give away his daughter and worry about the photographs too.
That day, I learned a lot about this family. And his wife, Candy is exactly what I had expected, as was their younger daughter; Genuine, wonderful and grateful; just like their leading man. They all won my heart at hello, every one of them.
In the meantime, Jeff had volunteered to photograph football games for my youngest brother (by 16 years), Jarred, a senior at Racine Horlick. This being his third and last year as a starting varsity wide receiver; Jeff has gifted my family with the most amazing photos that will be my family’s treasures forever. My mother and I, on more than one occasion have literally been moved to tears.
Naturally, my family and I insisted on inviting Jeff to the Horlick football banquet. And In an ironic twist of fate, he ended up saving the day, in the eleventh hour for The Racine Horlick booster club; they could not get their DVD with the seasons photos put together, so Jeff volunteered to lend a hand; the day of the banquet! Not only did he get it done; He brought a banquet hall filled to capacity, to their feet with a standing ovation. And covered with inspirational goose bumps.
There is one last epic gesture that need be mentioned; my brother Jarred insisted that Jeff Ernst is the only person he would consider, to produced the very monumental ‘highlight film’ that is mailed to colleges as part of a scholarship application. The three minute film is beyond words. My mother and I cry every time we see it, and the men of the family well with pride. I sincerely believe its uniqueness will be the certainty of a scholarship.
At the start of the Muskego Hitmen’s season Jeff was a budding amateur photographer, with skills that astounded me. I attended the Hitmen banquet, to show support for my new friend, where I got a kick out of the Muskego Chronicle appearing throughout the DVD presentation playing continuously on the big screen.
And now his talent has transformed into something to so much more than ‘a good sports action photographer’; if you ask me he has become one of the masters of his art. If you don’t want to take my word for it, his pictures are worth a thousand words, take a peek for yourself on the web at http://www.boomerzworld.com/ (where my brothers highlight film is also able to be seen). And while you browse the photos telling their own tales, please remember that he is not only talented, but a true friend, a great family man, and most assuredly my ‘Huckleberry’. This is not a one-hand-washes-the-other friendship, but rather just a bunch of helping hands, or in some cases; cameras.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
“I’m Your Huckleberry…”