Another Look at Animosity

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. 

Oh That January Day in ’94

It was Monday, 1/17/94 at 4:31 a.m. in Los Angeles. Kristine and I were awakened by movement and loud noises. We were immediately aware this was a quake. The big one? We didn’t know.

We raced to get our 13 year old daughter and 3 year old son. The four of us gathered in a spot we thought would be relatively safe.

Kaboom! There was a huge explosion in the commercial area near us. We later discovered it was in a  restaurant.

Chimneys were crumbling up and down our street while ours, thank God, remained intact. Our interior had some strong movement.

The refrigerator moved half way across our kitchen. All the perfume in a half bath hit the floor and created a pleasant aroma that wafted through our little home.

Ultimately it was the longest, strongest (6.7) and most destructive earthquake we ever experienced. The epicenter was just a few miles from our home. So much for the peace we sought at home.


“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.”
Sean O’ Casey, who was a playwright and memoirist.

Lord knows, sometimes I don’t listen. Sometimes even my digital hearing aids aren’t quite enough to hear in those moments with background noise.

They call them senses. There is the sense of thirst that can disappear with age, the sense of hearing and the sense of smell. All of mine are diminished.

Is 100 years really your goal? At least it involves a desire to breathe and love and live this life in all it’s wonder and terror.

Consider rehearsing those of you under 50. That is reflect on  a potentially higher quality of life in the figurative darkness of your future.

Consider less blaring, rock music for your ears, ellipticals for your feet and knees, stretches for your future mobility, as well as, less rich food.

Ah but most of those under 50 are perhaps, “desperately unrehearsed.” I understand.

Botox, Stiff Upper Lips and Other Things

“People who keep stiff upper lips find that it’s damn hard to smile.” So said Judith Guest, an American novelist and screenwriter, who, is most famous for writing Ordinary People. (    

Botox and stiff upper lipped denial both make it hard to smile. They are artificial methods of avoiding reality.

As to Botox, I did get a break on wrinkles. In the claims business, I occasionally saw plastic surgeons with claims against them. One of them was walking down the street with me, I believe after we had lunched together. He said, essentially, I was cut a real break on avoiding wrinkles, in that, I had cheeks as fat and round as a 1 month old.

I clearly lacked the strong, square jaw my adult son inherited through his maternal side, but at least as my brain deteriorated along with my joints, something stayed young. I still remember hugging my big cheeked mom as her soft cheeks touched mine, at, 90 years of age. Good Lord, I miss her.

Now, my upper lip quivers, as opposed to stiffening and that’s on a good day.

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.

Quite Quiet

“The library is what keeps us a step ahead of the apes.” That was according to Dana Stabenow. She is an American writer. (

I first became enamored of the Emory University library in the fall of 1964. The building was a beautiful, limestone structure sitting at the head of our large, grass covered quadrangle. It allowed me peace and quiet away from the AEPi, frat house (pronunced as in A E pie not ape). My brothers were quite studious, and, usually, quiet, but I needed real solitude to study just as I do to write.

About those apes, it is actually remarkable how our DNA and their DNA (gorillas in particular) lines up (98% similarity). (,gorillas%20trailing%20at%2098%20percent.) Maybe that’s why they are my favorite animals at the zoo.

Those primates seem to have self-awareness when I watch them. It’s a little eerie. When I feel that way I head quickly for the nearest library.

Those Furry Creatures

I have had three dogs over my long life. Bagel, a sweet mutt, was our dog in the early 50s. Abby was our dog in the mid-70s. Snowy was our dog in the 00’s and Teens.

Bagel was my dearest friend in childhood. I lost her. Weeks went by. When she was found, my prayers were answered. It reinforced the foundation of my belief in God.

Abby was a wild, Irish setter pup who was beautiful, but, hard to keep. She was our wild, Irish rose. She had just too great an affinity for knocking over garbage cans. We should have named her mayhem.

But the dog that stole my heart was Snowy, an elegant Alaskan Eskimo. He stopped traffic when we walked him, he was so beautiful. Snow was a wonderful cuddler for our family. He was thrilled when I arrived home each and every night. There were times he would say more with a look than the most articulate of humans.

But, one of the heartbreaks in our four decade marriage was watching his last breath, when, we had to put him down at 15. He was in horrible arthritic pain and demented, when, we knew it was time. The seven years since his death have not brought us a new pup. I think it involves the vulnerability we uncovered in losing Snowy. It was just too painful.

Frost that Warms the Heart

Robert Frost won not one but four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry. He said some things about poetry that speak to me.

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

“Every poem is a momentary stay against the confusion of the world.”


His, like all the best poetry, completely engages me. It is brief in its message, but, speaks directly to my heart. No detours. No dodges. No meandering. Just a jewel of language.

We lost you in the 60s. You still speak to us and it never grows old.

A Little Watered Down

In my over seven years of retirement I have discovered that PVC pipes can last 100 years. However the junctures at which they seal can have this bad habit of flooding the kitchen.

Yes water has been my nemesis.
First, it was the fifteen trips to my roof in my last house it took to seal it.

Actually it all started before that. In 1954, I went to a Troy, Ohio ice rink with my best friend and his dad. The streets were flooding. Road blocks were everywhere.

His dad asked me to get out and move a road block. I was only nine. What did I know?

You don’t want to hear the end of this story……

As Time Goes By

Years ago, I was obtaining a medical procedure in the hospital. I was in the pre-operative area. From across the floor, a nurse told me about my unusually elevated blood pressure. She asked if I had high blood pressure. I said, “Not that I know of.” I said to myself, “I do now.”

I was probably around sixty. It’s not a huge secret that since about 60 I have had hypertension. The CDC did a study of the prevalence of hypertension in adults from 2017 to 2018. According to the CDC:  “The prevalence of hypertension increased with age. The prevalence was 22.4% among adults aged 18–39 and increased to 54.5% among those aged 40–59, and 74.5% among those aged 60 and over.” (

In those sixteen years or so, I have watched my health deteriorate, ever so slowly. It’s called the march of time. The same thing is happening to my house’s paint, plumbing and appliances.

But they say, “It’s all good.” It isn’t, but a lot of it is. By the grace of God I have family, a voice to express here and beautiful things to learn about my spouse and the world.

How good does it get? As good as the evening my wife Kristine and I looked up at the sky on a stay in Montana to see a breathtaking meteor shower. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. It takes my breath away.

The Gift of Life

As I sit here, my mind quiets down putting thoughts to paper. There is bright, spring sunshine flooding this room. It’s a new day and I only get one chance to spend it well.

I was born in the spring almost 76 years ago. Seventy six years before I was born America had recently experienced the Civil War. I have been alive for roughly a third of the years since the Declaration of Independence.

I don’t know why I have outlived at least 10 per cent of my medical school class and an unknown percentage of my other graduating classes. I do know I want to speak to you about things that matter.

As my future here shortens, I value my days more fully. May God bless your journey, keeping you aware of the fragility and beauty of your precious life.