[Got any impossible missions? You’ve come to the right place. Edward Ellsberg didn’t know the meaning of the word. He was a naval commander, deep sea diver, engineer, inventor and expert fencer. Did I mention that he was also a best-selling writer?
Read more after the break.]
Edward Ellsberg was born on November 21, 1891 in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1893, his family moved to Denver, Colorado where he grew up.
We lived in Denver with the Rocky Mountains practically in my backyard. One of my most vivid memories still is of a ride up Clear Creek Canyon when at the age of five I was scared stiff watching the outer wheels of our wagon threaten every second to go sliding over the edge of a narrow mountain road and down the precipice.
Growing up, my brothers and I had the plains around Denver as a hunting ground; our main game was only prairie dogs, which however, for boys with .22 rifles was quite ideal. The principal drawback to any hunting trip in summer was the inability ever to find a place afterwards to cool off, for in either the Platte River or Cherry Creek (the two nearby streams) you could wet only half yourself at once, and as for swimming in them, an alfalfa field was just as practicable. It may have been this lack of water which gave me an interest in the sea, and I read avidly all the boys’ books I could find with a nautical background.
He went to high school in Denver and thought about becoming a mining engineer – one of the reasons being that the nearby Colorado School of Mines had the best football team in the area. His father wanted him to study law instead, and this was a source of family friction. However, in his last year in school, the Mines football team was beaten by every team in the conference, and he entered Colorado University at Boulder to study law.
He had just settled in as a freshman when a newly joined Colorado Congressman, Edward T. Taylor, announced that he had two appointments to be made to the Naval Academy and he would test those who submitted their qualifications to him. Ellsberg applied and finished top of the list in the test.
I had to stretch one-quarter of an inch and gain four pounds to meet the physical requirements. But I ate a lot and exercised and made it. I remember the first thing they did was put us in a 10-oared cutter and made us row all over Chesapeake Bay. It was hotter than hell and I wished I’d never left Denver…