Christened, William Woodruff Hughes, Bill was the second of the four Hughes children. If Lloyd, the older brother, was the scholar, then Bill was the sportsman. He loved to try his hand at everything and excelled at seemingly everything: bowling, baseball, tennis, even rollerskating. Athletics came really naturally to Bill.
When Bill was 10 he scaled to unnatural heights, a tree in the Hughes family's yard. Fern, his mother and the resident family photographer, ran out and snapped a picture of him up there. Bill lived an exuberant life with many harrowing adventures.
When Bill was around 11-years-old, his parents had opened a grocery store. All of the Hughes children worked around the store from time to time and on this day, Bill was helping in the meat department. Pounds of beef and been placed in the top of a meat grinder and Bill was helping to push the meat into the grinder.
Bill kept after his job until the meat was ground. Both the meat and the store were freezing cold, so Bill crossed the room and stood on a heat register to warm up. When Fern came into the room, she noticed Bill's hand was bleeding.
"What's the matter with your hand?" she asked.
Bill held his right hand up for both of them to examine. Unbeknownst to him, with his hands numb from handling the cold meat, Bill had accidentally ground down his middle finger to where it was essentially the same height as his index and ring fingers.
Ever a practical woman, Fern ushered Bill out.
"You go over to the drug store and see what they can do to help you. I've have to throw all the hamburger away."
When Bill arrived at the drug store, his finger was still bleeding profusely. Not knowing what else to do, they tied a string around the end of his finger, and put him on a streetcar with directions to see a doctor.
As the finger healed, his nail grew out and curled around the end of his shortened finger, protecting it. Bill was alway very self-conscious about that finger. He kept his hand in his pocket or curled up in a ball, so people wouldn't notice.