Someone asked me the other day if Superman was real. I told them, yes, but he’s not the guy you see in the movies.
Clark Zupfermann was born in Kent, Iowa in 1893 to a couple of immigrants from Warsaw, Poland. His parents were in their 50’s when he was born (they had thought they were unable to have children). He was more then the usual “miracle baby” in that he had a rare genetic disorder. His body had an unusual mutation that caused increased muscle growth and strength, as well as a type of psoriasis that made his skin virtually impenetrable. His skin was basically a natural version of Kevlar.
Clark was extremely fast for a person, but not faster than a speeding train of course. He was able to run at a sustained speed of over 30 mph for several miles - this at a time when most people didn’t have cars. He could weather being stabbed by knifes and once famously for surviving a blast of buckshot from a misfired shotgun. The problem was that, although he wouldn’t be cut, he still felt the pain of being shot and poked.
Clark gain some local fame when he rescued a young girl named Lois Strassman, who had been trapped underneath a tractor that had rolled. His strength made easy work of lifting the tractor, and then he ran the girl to the local hospital in his arms. The rescue saved the girl and would have been a much more publicized event, barring one fact. Clark and Lois were Jewish. Rather than see the situation as heroic, many locals became afraid of him and took great pains to minimize his effort. Adding the fact that his skin condition made him look somewhat mannequin-esque, it was easy for people to dismiss him as some kind of freak. Regardless, Clark lived a simple life of doing whatever he could for his community and his fellow townsfolk.
Clark died in 1937 and was buried as a pauper. He truly was an unsung hero of the people. Luckily, the spirit of his good deeds and love for his fellow man live on in legend.
Unfortunately, Clark is typical of your run-of-the-mill super hero. Most of us are born different and have to deal with being outside the norm every day. The majority of us try to do good, but there are many who grow up resentful and angry - thus turning into the villains that we deal with to this day. I’m always asked why we don’t just kill the evil guys when we have the chance, instead letting them have the opportunity to reek havoc again and again. The simple answer is that we can empathize with their anger. There but for the grace of God