So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Fishes of Arkansas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fishes of Arkansas. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Pregnant Guppy Creates an Ichthyologist

This week I am enjoying the company of my cousin, Dr. Henry Robison, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Biology, Southern Arkansas University. He is a scientist and an author. He fell in love with fish when he was twelve years old. He co-wrote Fishes of Arkansas, first edition, and is in process of co-writing the second edition.

We discussed the marketing of books by authors. It never occurred to him that he could or should try to sell his books. He said he was told by the publisher of his first book that he could not sell the book. It could only be ordered from the publisher. His students wanted to purchase the book from him and he told them he could not sell the book. They had to order it.

Now as he works on a second book he is told, yes, by all means, the author should help in marketing this book. Rob, as I call him, writes about fish, and he knows all there is to know on this subject. His first book was packed with information about every kind of fish you would find in the state. The next one is about Crayfish. While I am not that interested in crayfish, I am sure I would find many facts of interest. Rob has discovered new species of fish and many have been named for him.

Although my cousin is a scientist, he and I have the best time talking about family and politics and anything that comes to mind. My mother loved Robbie as a child and spoke highly of him. He remembers that when she hugged him, he felt she really meant it.

I didn't get to know him until a few years ago when we connected through our common interest in genealogy. He likes to learn about his Robison family because after his father died in WWII, his mother remarried and he lost contact with most of the family. He did spend summers with his Robison grandparents and loved his grandmother dearly. He said she talked about his father and they perused photos of him as a kid. Those are happy memories for Rob.

He grew up in an Air Force family, and they moved often. He said he attended three schools while in the third grade. Now in his seventies, he likes to hear about his biological father's family and catch up on what he feels he missed. Like most of the Robison relatives I know, he is never at a loss for words and neither am I, so we talk and talk. 

Tonight I was happy to show him a photo of his father on a page from the Albany High School yearbook. Rob had never seen it. I see how much he looks like the father he never knew. He will always hunger for knowledge about his dad. Sadly, our government has never given him the truth about his father's plane crash over the Gulf of Mexico. What he has received has long patches of typed words blacked out making it impossible to read the words of witnesses.  What does the American government have to hide from Rob?  He simply wants to know why and how his father died over seventy years ago. He knows it was some kind of accident, but wants the details.

Rob had a good life with a stepfather and two half brothers. He married his high school sweetheart who was his best friend and they have two children and precious grandchildren. His autobiography, How I Got to Where I Am Today, explains how a young child fell in love with fish and how he, with mentors along the way, followed his passion and led a happy and successful life. Such a great example of perseverance. 

Rob says, "To date I have published over 350 papers and seven books on fishes, herps, various invertebrates, plants, and other aspects of the wonderful biodiversity of the great natural state of Arkansas and I continue to do research on the state biota. My career as a zoologist and ichthyologist has been thoroughly rewarding, incredibly enjoyable, always exciting, and more than I ever thought possible for that 12 year-old boy in Lake Charles who was given the gift of a pregnant Guppy by a childhood friend so long ago back in 1957."