The Possible, 1863 and 1956

I was about 11. It was a beautiful, sub-tropical day in about 1956. I was at the driving range at our neighborhood course to hit a few golf balls. The course was called Miami Shores Country Club. I noticed Ed Furgol on the range. He was a huge golfer who in distinct contrast to his powerful torso had a withered left arm. I had no idea why it was withered but I knew this was Ed Furgol, one of our neighbors in Miami Shores, Florida. Some research I’ve now done provided the answer to the left arm mystery:

“At the age of twelve, Furgol injured his left elbow when he fell off a set of parallel bars at a playground. Despite several surgeries, the elbow never healed correctly and he was left with a crooked arm ten inches (25 cm) shorter as a result. On the recommendation of his doctors, he took up golf.”(

Per his Associated Press obituary in March, 1997, “Furgol did special exercises to build strength in his hands and worked tirelessly to develop a swing that would overcome his lack of power.”

Not far away was the Furgol home whose driveway generally included two brand new Cadillacs. They in essence were rewards for his having won the 1954 US Open, one leg of golf’s Grand Slam. He also finished in a tie for sixth in the 1948 Masters.

Before I could even step to the tee at the range I noticed that Ed was ripping drives the entire length of the driving range. I had never seen anyone come close to that kind of distance on that stretch of grass.

Particularly given the condition of his left arm I felt compelled to sit down directly behind him as he continued to drive. He was so focused on his shots I don’t believe he even noticed my presence. What I learned about a golf swing, batting swing or tennis swing that day was the critical, graceful rhythm needed to put all the power from one’s core (lower torso) and legs into the ball. That left arm was just a guide for the tremendous power he could generate through that tiny golf ball.

I clearly don’t have the athletic talent to swing a driver, a bat or a tennis racket with Ed Furgol’s fluidity. More importantly, I began to learn that I need not allow personal flaws, physical or emotional, to stand in my way. I found with age that by the grace of God I might well be capable of far more than I had imagined.


Kristine, Chad, Courtney and I traveled to Fredericksburg, Virginia on Memorial Day weekend of 2003 for Courtney’s engagement party. This was her fiancé Alex’s hometown. His dad, Bob, and Alex both were quite familiar with the famous Civil War battle of Fredericksburg. It was a huge victory for the Southern forces. The battle took place from Dec 11, 1862 through Dec 15, 1862.

The Confederate victory in that pre-air war era, per them both, was attributable to the Rebel’s ability to take and hold the High Ground. The brave Yanks charged up the hill and were shot down repeatedly, in essence slaughtered.

However on yet another day in yet another part of the South, Grant’s forces in the course of the battles of Chattanooga took on similar difficult odds at Missionary Ridge. The Yanks were situated on the Low Ground far below the High Ground the Rebels were defending. The Battle of Missionary Ridge was fought on 11/25/63, about a year after the battle of Fredericksburg.

Time has borne out that Grant was a brilliant strategist. Nonetheless, per Bruce Catton’s America, the uphill battle was not fought carrying out Grant’s orders. It was fought on the orders of a lesser officer and the judgement of some of the soldiers themselves, contrary to Grant’s orders. It has been noted: “The Union advance was disorganized but effective; finally overwhelming and scattering what ought to have been, as General Grant himself believed, an impregnable Confederate line.” ( So much for military strategy and the historic ground we walked upon that 2003 Memorial Weekend in Virginia. Some obstacles that seem impregnable may be quite pregnable

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.

The ER and Me, a Student, Fifty Years Ago

The W. A. Shands Teaching Hospital ER in Gainesville, Florida had been rather calm as best as I can remember. It was a night in about 1970. I was a med student, very wet behind the ears.

The peace of the evening was broken by the loud yelling and physical force of our next patient. He came in swinging his fists and yelling at the top of his lungs. The patient was a man about six foot three inches in height, 180 pounds in weight and thickly muscled. He was likely about 30 years of age. I would call him a “nuclear” force blowing into the room with terrifying strength and vigor.

The real docs quickly realized this was likely either PCP, psychosis or both. It took several very strong people to get him under control and inject a calming agent into his system. The experience that night was almost as bone chilling as when I was held at gunpoint about twenty years later in Woodland Hills, CA.

Hey, some people like excitement like this. I prefer peace, quiet, a cup of coffee and a good book. That is peace like a river, to me, a tranquil Godsend.

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, available on Amazon.