• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Hyper trivia

Updated: Mar 22

It seems that Arvo Ojala had a birth defect that I'd have expected to keep him from becoming the fastest draw of his time: Poland Syndrome, named for a doctor and not the country.

His 1941 draft registration card reveals that he was missing the right pectoral muscle. And my medico wife, who works with women's breasts as a radiographer, said, 'oh, yeah, I have patients with this condition'.

A (very) little research then turns up that this condition is Poland Syndrome, that it affects mostly men, that it affects mostly the right side -- and that it is mostly accompanied by webbing of the fingers of the hand on that side!

None of my images show any indication of hand surgery although in some he's wearing a glove admittedly. But I would expect that the surgery was well within the skills of doctors when he was a boy. Yet the missing muscle; we use that muscle when drawing with the right hand. Huh.

I don't know anyone today who could answer any such queries about Arvo but nevertheless it does beg the question: how did someone who was so-afflicted, become the fastest draw with his right hand of his era?!

We do know that the significant injuries that Elmer Keith suffered to his hands in a fire as a youth, plus his small stature (these are both called out by Elmer himself in an article nominally about Thell Reed) led him to become an expert pistol shot despite the incredibly difficult therapy and recovery involved (he states that one of his hands was burned into a claw and had to be pried open and strapped that way to a board):

So, Elmer's is an example of how we can be inspired to turn our weaknesses into strengths -- is that also what Arvo did? Or the missing muscle made no difference one way or the other.

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