Former Pike County resident Arnold Robinson has authored a trilogy of semi-autobiographical books over a 15-year period (2001-2017): “Second Born The Dead Giants,” “Second Born The Reverend’s Ways” and “Second Born The Gant House.”
Robinson returned to Pike County from his home in Arizona on May 6 for a “Meet and Greet” with the students at Western Local Schools. The event was hosted by school librarian Kim Runions.
“Brock Brewster, superintendent, and Carrie Gast, principal of Western High School, welcomed Arnold Robinson as a native son returning to his roots,” said Sandy Kearns, who was instrumental in bring Robinson to the school and wrote a two-page review of Robinson’s books with commentary by his acquaintances, including his mother.
“Countless mountain people have been inspired by the song lyrics of John Denver’s ‘Country Road,’ but no one takes you home like Arnold Robinson’s trilogy, ‘The Second Born,’” wrote Kearns. “The saga takes place in the hills of Pike County, Ohio, in the ‘50s and ‘60s and is the true story of life on Lapperell, Stewart Holler and other well-known spots in this neck of the woods. Raised with nine brothers and a sister by a mother who shepherded her offspring in the love of Jesus as opposed to a hypocritical, alcoholic father who preached fire and brimstone, Arnold allows his readers to become one with his poverty-stricken family struggling to survive ...”
“The event proved to be rewarding as many Pike County residents attended, recalled past happenings and purchased the trilogy to savor the saga of the past era,” Kearns said of his recent visit.
“I owe so much to the teachers of Western Local where I attended grades one through eight,” said Robinson at the meet-and-greet. “Miss VanMeter as well as others encouraged me to make my mark, do my best and use my talents to be somebody ...”
“’Book One, The Dead Giants’ (is about) all the things that a young child fears. James and Arnold Ray had to grow up quickly and assume many responsibilities when their father buys a farm with a two-acre tobacco crop,” said Robinson. “’Book Two, The Reverend’s Ways,’ tells of how James and Arnold Ray would do their father’s awful deed to save their farm so their mother would never have to move again. ‘The Gant House’ is where James and Arnold Ray would come of age, swearing their father would never hit their mother again. Teenagers with great plans would be stymied once again by their father’s actions.”
Robinson and his nine siblings were the children of James Lafoit Robinson and Millie Marie (Trent) Robinson.
“My father mostly worked at farming but tobacco was what he knew best,” Robinson said. “We owned a sawmill for a while. (He was) a carpenter at times and also drilled water wells. My mother stayed at home to raise her family.”
“I attended many schools, even a couple in Florida at a very early age,” said Robinson. “In the Latham district, I attended Idaho and Parker, and my freshman year (was spent) at Western High School. In 1966 we moved to a farm up by Greenfield where I graduated with the class of 1969.”
According to Robinson, his father’s alcoholism made life difficult for his family.
“Our father’s alcohol abuse (was difficult) and when he’d decide to move to some other place whether school was out yet or not and at times leaving a garden behind,” Robinson said. “(Moving) to Florida to escape the snow and cold weather was always a disaster in the end. In the same school year we’d move back to Ohio in the springtime where some (of us) would fail that year for missing so much school.”
“We lived with it for many years with my mother’s prayers being answered for short periods of time,” said Robinson. “It was her faith that always kept us going.”
Born in Korea, Kentucky, on Oct. 1, 1949, Robinson lived in Southern Ohio until he was 22 years old when he moved to Colorado to be with his “buddies” returning from Vietnam. Robinson is a retired pipe fitter by trade and his wife, Deborah, is a retired quality control manager. The couple has lived in the White Mountains in Arizona for 34 years and raised three children there. A grandfather to five children, Robinson enjoys hiking in the mountains with his two dogs, fossil collecting, rock hunting, creating iron sculptures and painting in his spare time.
Robinson said he started writing the trilogy in 2001 while he was “still working and traveling around the country,” and finished the books in 2017.
“I want readers to see what life was like in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s in Pike County, rural Southern Ohio where change didn’t come fast or easy,” Robinson said.
Robinson said young readers of his books can learn that “no matter the obstacles in one’s life — and there are many in my book — never give up on your dreams.”
Robinson’s Second Born trilogy books can be ordered on any online book store, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million and Amazon or purchased for an e-reader device.