In November of 1955, when I was ten years old our family moved from Dayton, Ohio to Miami, Florida. I believe Mom flew and my siblings, John and Wendy, and I drove with Dad (Harold). The car was a peach, 1955 Plymouth sedan. While on the road Harold asked us to throw all the “non-essentials” out the window and that included a full sized umbrella. With any luck at all the drivers that followed on that roadway survived unblemished.

There was no interstate to follow during that cold November drive. As a result we went through the Kentucky and Tennessee hills spotting numerous hillbillies as well as what I was later to understand were moonshine stills.

Without warning, in the Deep South, I saw water fountains that said “Colored only” and bathrooms with the same term. Years later I learned those bathrooms were soiled beyond belief relative to the White rest rooms.


One collegiate quarter, after finals, in the mid-60s, I was driving to Miami and entered a county in South Georgia. I was stopped by an officer who quickly discovered I was not only driving, I believe, with a taillight out, but in addition my registration was expired. He said with two infractions he had to put me in jail unless and until I could provide bail.

I soon discovered what was meant by the term bail bondsman and managed to avoid being put behind bars. I have believed to this day had my last name NOT been Rubin, this incarceration threat never would have occurred.


As a resident in pathology in both Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia I continued to see remnants of racial animosity. I worked first at Emory University in Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta. I didn’t discover till years later that just a few short years before I arrived there this public hospital had been segregated.

In my apartment complex at that time, 1971-1972, I befriended a news photographer for ABC. One day he told me that he had been sent to Mississippi during the worst of the racial tension in the 60s, He said during that time he met the bravest man he had ever met, Medgar Evers. Medgar, of course, had been martyred fighting for the cause of racial freedom.

Finally in Augusta in 1974 and 1975 I lived in a cookhouse with bedrooms on a former, antebellum plantation. The owner was a physician who gave residents at the medical center a cut rate which I believe was $90/month for the house rental. He and his family lived in the main house and its basement had narrow, rectangular windows with bars that had kept the male slaves confined at night. Seeing this vestige of slavery each day was a constant reminder of the anguished life of the American slaves.

Martin Luther King fought this animus against his people. He was at his most persuasive in his negotiation with a committee led by Chicago’s Mayor Daley. The meeting concerned the committee’s alarm over a planned civil rights march. The meeting is described in Bearing the Cross by David J Garrow which I’ve reviewed on another post on my blog.(

With faith and touched by the Holy Spirit ( Counselor of the Trinity), from my view, he said: “Now, gentlemen, you know we don’t have much. We don’t have much money. We don’t really have much education, and we don’t have political power. We have only our bodies and you are asking us to give up the one thing we have when you say, ‘Don’t march.’ We want to be visible. We are not trying to overthrow you; we’re trying to get in.”

As to the pain of not getting in, it was never more visible to me than one Sunday in medical school when an African American underclassman took me to his church. A very, elderly, Black woman at the service felt overwhelmed by her pain, stood up and began to not sing, but wail. She moved all four limbs ever more forcefully. The pain of being trod under foot for decades was evident, I believe, to all of us. We felt her pain. It was as though she sang the blues and the melody echoed across the rafters. It’s been about 50 years, but I will NEVER forget her anguish.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me , all available on Amazon. 

1977, A Look Back

I thought this was worth a third look. It was part of the basis for my semi-autobiographical novelette, just published, The Bloom is on the Rose.

A few years after my brief, first marriage ended in divorce, I met my spouse of over 40 years in Baltimore. She was an art student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. It was the spring of 1977. I met her parents on our second date. I took her to dinner several times. She certainly grew on me steadily.

In the midst of that relationship I traveled alone to Washington, D.C. I looked up a distinguished, well-known attorney who I was told was a relative in Washington. He described to me the tragedy of having recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

He was only 60 years old. I was 32. He explained to me the difficulties with his ten-year old son as a result of his memory loss. It was a distressing conversation.

I told him how serious I was about Kristine, how special she was to me, how unique. I’ve told people since that women I dated frequently helped me to deteriorate while she helped me to grow.

I lost track of that tragic recipient of early Alzheimer’s afterwards. It was a juncture that at once addressed my new, permanent love as well as the disease in my family that would take this relative and both my parents.

The attorney died in April 1983 at 66. The Washington Post obituary simply said he had Alzheimer’s when he died. As to the joys and burdens of those minutes when we met, my aired feelings for Kristine and empathy for him that day, were lasting jolts in my life for the better and for the worse.

My relationship with Kristine continued to grow. She and I were engaged in August.

One of my maternal aunts met Kristine prior to my parents. She was the oldest of the three sisters in my mother’s family. She came up from Florida to Washington, D. C. to give Kristine a lovely family ring. My folks didn’t meet Kristine until just before our December wedding.

My aunt met us for dinner at an excellent Hungarian restaurant called Csikos. A csiko is a Hungarian, mounted herdsman. The restaurant reached back in time to my maternal grandparents who hailed from Hungary. They immigrated to America in the late 19th Century.

Reaching forward to 2028, when hopefully I will be alive and ticking, the New York Times posted an article about the 2028 Summer Olympics on 8/1/17. Mike McPhate wrote about the agreement to stage the games in L.A. Some Los Angeles reporters working for the Times were asked for a potential sport that L.A. could add to the Olympics. One suggestion caught my eye. “Food truck drag racing on Silver Lake Boulevard.”

Returning to the fall of 1977, I was eager to move to California, a dream of mine since I was a kid. That all materialized swiftly as I obtained a medical examiner’s post in Ventura, California. I was to begin in January of 1978. Kristine by the grace of God was graduating in December. Right up until the last day of 1977, when we arrived in Ventura, it was a year that teemed with blessings.

At our wedding one week before Christmas, Liz, one of my sister’s two children, saw Kris in her Greek wreath and beautiful dress as a heroine. She told her this only recently. Kristine has always been and will always be my heroine.

H, Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon writer and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? Please Save the Third Dance for Me (memoirs) and The Bloom is on the Rose (novelette), all available on Amazon.


I was practicing surgical pathology 39 years ago. I would wait for the day’s surgical specimens, including biopsies, so that most of them could then be processed overnight. Each specimen jar had a label with the patient’s name. First I would place the tissue specimens in small, metal cassettes with identifying specimen numbers. Then overnight a device would embed the surgical tissue in paraffin wax. Once in a paraffin block the tissue was finely cut, placed on a slide and finally stained for diagnostic purposes by a technologist.

On one particular day I was in a rush to leave the hospital. I went to obtain the specimens myself from the operating suite instead of waiting for a courier. I believe I first found the jars on a large, flat, metal container. I picked it up and began to walk briskly to the lab.

I rushed along the hospital floor, slipped and the jars of specimens tumbled to the floor. I heard the sound of shattering glass. I was almost faint thinking that tissue specimens may have scattered without specific, patient identification. Trembling, I looked down at the floor to assess the damage.

Only one specimen bottle had broken open. It was not human tissue. It consisted of metal hardware removed from a patient that only required naked eye, visual inspection. The sole broken bottle’s label identified the patient’s name. I am absolutely certain those falling jars were cradled in the hands of at least one angel. Thank God for His grace for those precious patients and me.


Haste has been a source of dissonance in my life. It runs counter to meaningful relationships.

The importance of slowing down in love was expressed by John Steinbeck in a letter on 11/10/58 to his son Thom, who had fallen in love while at boarding school. “And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”


Per Max Ehrman in his famous poem, Desiderata, “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” ( I so need a tempo in harmony with the Lord, in the music that is my life.

H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon writer and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? Please Save the Third Dance for Me (memoirs) and The Bloom is on the Rose (novelette), all available on Amazon.


As I look back at the stories in my life, I am reminded of their soul- healing value to others and to me. It was the writer Neil Gaiman who said:

And the gulf that exists between us as people is that when we look at each other we might see faces, skin color, gender, race, or attitudes, but we don’t see, we can’t see, the stories. And once we hear each other’s stories we realize that the things we see as dividing us are, all too often, illusions, falsehoods: that the walls between us are in truth no thicker than scenery. (

I occasionally recall the offhand remark of one of my more eccentric, attending pathologists in my residency in the Atlanta of the mid-70s. He said of those people he had autopsied, “I can never remember their faces.” It’s a funny remark, but, at a much deeper level, he didn’t know them in life, never having heard their stories, their elements of connection if you will.

In about 1981 my family swam nearly weekly at a pool with memberships in Pacific Palisades California. That community is a part of greater Los Angeles just south of Malibu.

One day a well-known character actor, the late Jack Warden, was relaxing in the shallow end of the pool. You may recall him from Shampoo or Heaven Can Wait, films for which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.

He and I struck up a fairly long conversation. He would have been in his early 60s and I was 30 years his junior. What struck me throughout the exchange was how beautifully he could spin a yarn. It was just a delight to speak with him regardless of his celebrity.

I have given his success as a character actor, i.e. non-leading man, some thought over the years. I suspect that one aspect of his success, particularly early in his career, was his wonderful storytelling ability, whether in breaks in movies, at parties or perhaps in luncheons with key directors. I suspect he broke down walls in Gaiman’s terms, solidifying friendships and steadily gathering acting jobs from that conversational skill. I would think that if he was competing with another character actor of equal skill in a director’s mind, he may well have gotten the edge based upon this sizable strength.  Having opened that door to be hired, he certainly would have shown substantial strength as an actor given his Academy Award nominations.

H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon memoirist, a novelist with a draft novelette in progress, and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon

Tom Wolfe, a Life Remembered

It tickles me that an obit written about a WRITER by a WRITER is the longest obit I have ever read in the NY Times.

Tom was extraordinary. I thought The Right Stuff both the book and movie were rich, beautiful and enlightening pieces of work.

Who would have had the time to date/marry with all of his literary output until the age of 48. Sociology seemed his first love, how we go about inhabiting this place from Tom’s point of view.

His was a life well lived filled with originality for the rest of us. What a gift.

H. Robert Rubin, memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, an e-book on Amazon and How Did I Get Through This? to be published on Amazon this year

This Writer’s Joy in My Work

I have loved to write all my life. The quality of the work has been evident from encouraging responses to my writing since I was 12 years old. But I knew regardless of the quality of my work, financial success as a writer was a longshot. My dreams were placed on a shelf prior to retirement.

I have been retired for about 4.5 years. During that time I have taken writing courses and hosted a writer’s group at our home. I have written three volumes of memoirs one of which I have self-published, the e-book, Look Backward Angel. It has been an Amazon best seller several times. I will soon be publishing the second and third volumes.

lt is very meaningful to reach out to others with my regrets, joys and wit. At the end of my life I find it comforting that my thoughts and words will have a permanent place, for both my offspring and those who draw meaning and at times laughter from my work.

H. Robert Rubin

Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography, Edited by William Zinsser with Chapters by Several Biographers Including David McCullough, A Review

Wow, the art of biography, an art that per one of the authors involves journalistic as well as creative non-fiction skills. Per another it involves an extraordinary ability to separate the wheat from the chafe while interviewing a variety of people who knew the person of interest.

And you ask what was in the mind of David McCullough when he single-handedly rejuvenated the reputation of Harry Truman in his Pulitzer Prize winning effort? It is spelled out beautifully in his own words in the very first chapter of this engrossing work.

What about the mysterious Emily Dickinson, who despite numerous suggestions that she may have been hermit-like is noted by Richard Sewall her biographer to have been a frequent, warm, letter writing friend of many.

Interesting facts are uncovered here, Fascinating modes of discovery are revealed for the “mystery solver” in each of us. I think the reader will find, particularly those who love biography and memoir, that this is a splendid read.

H. Robert Rubin, memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, an e-book on Amazon and How Did I Get Through This? to be published on Amazon this year