What kind of guy would write an English grammar textbook? No question it would have to be a bookworm who did nothing but read all the days of his life, a guy who had no social life outside a library, a guy who was strictly one-dimensional.
Then again, it could be a guy like Skipper.
He was usually a little taller, almost always a bit quieter and, as it turned out, smarter.
Horace N. Robinson’s book signing is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Thursday, November 29, at the Southeastern Barnes and Noble Book Store on the corner of N. 5th Avenue and University Boulevard.
Skipper has come a long way from Durant’s Southside. He’s called Skip now, but friends will know he’s the same old Skipper Robinson.
The book, Proper Form, Pure & Simple, is a guide to English grammar that reads like a story. It features a trip through the pitfalls of speaking and writing the English language.
The book is for those of us who, for one valid reason or another, got a slow start in learning proper English form. It’s a lifeline for students, teachers and working professionals who need that little extra edge to better themselves and to advance in their careers.
Proper Form, Pure & Simple is not a chore; it’s a delight. The 100-page handbook is exactly like the name – pure and simple. The price is the same way at just $15 and it just might be the best $15 one could ever spend.
From the playground at Robert E. Lee grade school to big game (B.B. gun) hunts in Red Rock Canyon to cardboard slides down the side of the railroad tracks to baseball (pitcher, third base) at old Southside Park to ‘acquiring’ foul balls when the big boys took the field to surviving many mini-battles on the Mineral Bayou to perfecting the fadeaway jumper (before Michael Jordan was born) on dirt courts and the gym in the old armory on West Main Street to playing clarinet and twice earning All-State honors in one of the best high school concert bands in the country.
He was 5-10 back in the day and some said he was the best point guard in the conference when he wore No. 32 for the Durant Lions.
“I was 5-10 and had to play 6-3,” Skipper said. “I decided against the NBA when we played Holdenville and a guy named Willie Brown showed me I couldn’t jump as high as I had thought.”
With all of these options, Skipper naturally went on to college (BA in Education from Southeastern, Master’s in English from the University of Oklahoma), wrote a book, taught school, wrote and directed TV ads that sold a ton of sausage, retired and returned to the classroom at Southeastern.
In his spare time, he designed and now directs The Center for Rhetoric and Professional Development at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
The Center is a first-of-its-kind among regional universities in Oklahoma.
It’s a finishing school in the spoken and written word and it’s absolutely vital in providing guidance and encouragement to pre-professional students preparing for entrance exams into graduate/professional schools or entering the workforce.
Lee Lipscomb (Durant High class of 1957) is a big-time lawyer in Los Angeles.
Lipscomb said, “As a trial attorney, the proper use of the English language is of great importance to me. Because Mr. Robinson’s book is so easy to understand, it’s been a big help for me. I bought copies for a number of people in my office and would highly recommend it for anyone who cares about “getting it right.”
Skip said, “The Robert E. Lee teachers were inspirational (according to Reader’s Digest, Robert E. Lee was the only elementary school in America where every teacher had a Master’s degree).
“I can remember when we (students) lined S. 9th and waved the soldiers off to war, although we didn’t know what was happening. I always noticed they were smoking and nervous, but never too busy to wave at us as we lined the curb with one flag per class.”
The Robert E. Lee teachers — Abbie Huber, Eloise Locke, Mildred Miller, Hettie Glafcke, Mary Shaver, Bryan Smith and Alice Blanchard, along with principal Henry Crockett — made learning a priority.
“With many fathers gone to war,” Skip said, “schools and churches had to take up the slack. Teachers and ministers had to serve as counselors and disciplinarians and they did a great job.
“Our teachers had great patience and understanding of children in grades one through six. At the time, they didn’t know if these children would live to adulthood. They set an example I have never forgotten.”
Proper Form, Pure & Simple is much more than a book on English grammar. It teaches people to speak and write what they truly mean to speak and write.
The book appeals to those who got off to a slow start in English grammar. It begins at the beginning, assumes a person has no prior knowledge and wants to learn.
It starts with nouns and goes on to cover gerunds, participles and infinitives. It is written to communicate with the reader so the reader will learn how to communicate with others.
This book is Skip’s way of giving back in honor of those early teachers who took the time to help the young boy wearing a feedsack shirt.
“Many of us wore feedsack shirts,” Skip said. “My grandmother sewed my shirt and I was really proud of it. I think sometimes folks bought feed for the animals more for the sack than for the feed.
“The company with the brightest colors sold the most feed.”
After a 30-year career as a successful businessman, Robinson, a lifelong resident of Durant, is back in the classroom with his first love.
He met his wife, Wilma, at Southeastern. Their daughter, Dr. Cynde Robinson Fuller, is a Developmental Pediatrician in Owasso, Oklahoma, and son Scott is Supervisor, Applications Technology Group, Blue Cross & Blue Shield in Tulsa.
Skipper had it all going for him as a youngster and still does. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss his book signing.