By Craig Hastings
At the police department in Tuscola we have a large conference table in the squad room that is utilized for a variety of things. Recent warrants for people forwarded to us by the County Sheriff’s Office, food products brought to us by citizens, magazines, etc. About a week ago I was walking through the back of the building and past the big table and noticed a book laying on it. A book that I had never seen nor heard of until this moment. I did however readily recognized the figure on the front cover. I was intrigued so I picked the book up and carried it to my office.
I know this guy, I kept thinking to myself. I was absolutely curious as to what was going to be depicted in this book and what story would be told about the man. First and foremost I wondered how the police department managed to have a copy of this book in house. I’m still not sure but have a good idea due to an inscription inside the front cover. Anyway here I go… “THE EXPLOITS of CHIEF AJ as told to Chuck Vaughan”, and now being read by me, Chief Hastings.
I’ve been a police officer here in Tuscola for 38 years and have known John “Chief AJ” Huffer for all of these years and a few before. I believe I remember my first meeting with Chief AJ was when I was the Investigator for Tuscola PD. John had a few rental properties back in the day, and I believe still maintains today. If I remember right a renter had moved out of a property John and his wife Corrine owned and removed a few things that didn’t belong to them; like a ceiling fan! Anyway, I knew from this first meeting I had indeed just met a very interesting individual and was sure we would share more conversation in the coming years.
Someone from the audience of this story tell me if I’m wrong, but I think I remember Mr. Huffer being referred to as “Texas John.” I may be mistaken, and if I am, I’m sorry John and don’t mean any disrespect. Mostly, after reading your book I’m surely interested in the “Texas” sub title and if there is a story behind it. And if I missed it in this book please tell me when you see me next where in the book I missed it. As I mentioned, I carried the book into my office to give it a quick once over and fully expected to return the book back to the big table and go on about my day. What happened was, after my quick scan, I decided I would take the book home for a closer read! Understand something about me…I don’t read books unless they are and have been automotive anything. I’ve read auto biographies before but again, only those penned about the automotive giants that founded Detroit.
At home later in the evening I took my new book into my bedroom and sat down to give it a read; at least a few paragraphs from within I expected. When I hadn’t returned to the TV room Shannon came to find me and discovered me reading the book. Well she knows as well as anybody that Craig doesn’t read books. She asked me what I was reading and when I told her all she had to say, with a smile, was; “Really?” “Yes I know, I don’t believe it either, but this book about John has really caught my interest.” I sat on my bed for two hours reading this book about Chief AJ, a Tuscola native. I guess one might argue that a person that wasn’t born and raised in the town they live isn’t a native, but I’m writing this story. I’ve known John to live here as long as I’ve been alive, and I believe John calls Tuscola home so, he’s a native.
I finished the book up in two days and several times have returned to it to refresh my memory about something I read the first time. I’m not going to go into any great detail about what’s in the book. I will say that anyone who knows John Huffer or has even heard of him, this book is a must read. I thought I knew a lot about Chief AJ simply from within the circles I live my own life. Not only have I worked for the city of Tuscola for over half of my life, but mixed in that fray were two bouts of family newspaper employment. Both occupations have and had me keeping eyes and ears open for information anything Tuscola. Never did I imagine, even though I thought I knew much about Chief AJ, that he has had such a traveled, interesting, self motivated, and driven life that he has lived to date!
After reading this book you will take away from it one thing for sure: Chief AJ can shoot! He can shoot a projectile from anything and hit his mark. The Chief has set records in long gun BB shooting, rifle shooting, revolver handgun shooting, slingshot shooting, and bow/arrow shooting. He has fine-tuned to some better ability each of these weapon devices. He has created and marketed versions of each for retail sale. Chief AJ has his own series of various styles of knives. He has his own carry products for guns and knives that give the owners the ability to safely take them wherever they travel.
To John’s wife Corrine: I tip my hat to you for managing to keep up with this guy for all of your years together! How did you do it? To the author Chuck Vaughan: maybe Corrine is your next story. Finally to me and the rest of the world: you wouldn’t want Chief AJ hunting you! Nope not me! I’d just turn myself in rather than take a chance getting hit with a .50 caliber chrome ball bearing from a sling shot being pulled by a man who once bench pressed over 500 pounds and has set world records in shooting accuracy with everything that shoots projectiles! John, I have to ask, did Judy, Wynona, and Margo really lay in waiting after school to first beat you up but then kiss you on the cheek!!? I’m asking, because I’m thinking there’s more to that story than you shared!!
Chief, the book is a hit with me. Maybe I think so because you’re a real Tuscola personality and not one that happened to move here after they became an accomplished personality.