Maurice Lubin, my father, was a civil and mechanical engineer, architect, and businessman. A workaholic who seldom spoke, but when he did, often profoundly, he taught me many wonderful things. When I was six years old, we began to play chess. One game per day. At first he gave me a considerable handicap by removing some of his key pieces from the board as if I had already taken them, which, of course, I had done no such thing. I was disheartened by my unbroken stream of losses.
"When do I get to win a game?"
"Oh, after about a thousand games or so," he replied gently.
To a six year old kid, that was heavy news indeed. But from age four he had instilled in me constant attention to mathematics, teaching me the algebraic conception before I could multiply or add decently. So I did the math, and said, "if we continue at this rate of play, one game per day, I will be nine years old before I beat you!"
"Yes," he replied. "Can you last that long?"
"I think so," I said, believing in my suddenly vast commitment.
And I was right! Nearly. I won my first game with him at age ten. I felt empowered by the
accuracy of his prediction. To me, having a father who could predict such an apparently infinite concept was a wonderous and strange thing.
I have never lost that feeling about him...
(written February 28th, 2000...eight days into the equivilent age when he died. I hope I can outlast him).
Recently I discovered, of all things, a short story my father wrote during, I think, the Depression. I had no idea he had ever done such a thing. I find it charming and extremely indicative of his character. I enjoyed it immensely, and hope you will also.
Man and Millions
by Maurice Lubin