Saturday, February 20, 2016

My World for a Horse by No Sweat

Kentucky Author "No Sweat"
 My World for a Horse
by No Sweat

On Sunday, February 18, 2001, Alan Jones and I left to dig at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. By 8:00 am we were in the woods and soon split up. Alan knew my goal was to return to the place where I had discovered what promised to be the burial of a Civil War horse at a location on privately owned property, and I had the owner’s permission to dig.
I came with my camera and detector, and soon found myself removing the frozen surface initially covering what I hoped would be my horse. Once I broke through using my WW2 army shovel and bayonet, I found the dirt to change and become soft and then muddy, sticking to anything it touched. And as the day progressed and the temperature rose, steam steadily rose from the ground.
I found the site undisturbed and after eight hours of continuous digging, I was approximately three feet deep, having uncovered the entire skeleton of the horse.
I had placed an importance on this find as it is the only definite Civil War horse I or anyone I knew had even dug at Camp Nelson in over 25 years of digging the vast area, having once been the Union army supply depot encompassing nearly 5,000 acres and supporting some 5,000 soldiers.
 I was confident that this was definitely a Civil War horse because of its location which remained my secret. And because the area was virgin and any metal definitely Civil War or earlier; and within twenty feet of the horse I had found a US box plate, an eagle breast plate, a bullseye canteen, an Austrian lock plate, the complete remains of a McClellan saddle, a curry comb, five officer’s eagle buttons, minie balls, Drakes log cabin bitter bottle fragments and other relics confirming this to be a solid Civil War site.
I studied the position of the horse’s skeleton and could plainly see that the horse had been carefully laid out over a large limestone rock and then covered up; it was obvious the horse had been loved; not one bone had been touched by a rodent or was out of place.
While excavating the horse, I found an odd iron spike having a hook coming out of it. The reason I ever discovered the horse at all was due to the horse shoes still attached to him – my metal detector had alerted me to them.
 The worst thing about the skeleton was the fact that roots had grown through the skull causing damage. From the best guess I could make, the horse had been large and owned a narrow face; it looked to be an old horse owning worn teeth; perhaps one of the officers “old friend’ having been buried separately from the thousands of horses once helping to comprise Camp Nelson.
I didn’t know if I wasted my time in digging up a horse, but feel not. The horse was such a vital part of the Civil War and yet they are rarely given thought. Here in this one lonely grave still lies the remains of just one of what once was in the hundreds of thousands.

 About the Author
     Kentucky author, Earl Lowell "Robbie" / "No Sweat" Robbins, Jr., Born in Pattie. A. Clay Hospital, Richmond, Kentucky, USA. Graduated from Irvine, Kentucky High School.  Entering Eastern Kentucky University he became one of Coach Don Combs' "Electrifying Eels," swimming long distance events for one of the best swim teams in the nation. He received his BA, MA in anthropology and sociology. During his senior year, he married Ruth Chesteen Hall in the university's chapel. The couple has one child, Nancy Chesteen, the mother of Lance Lowell Fuller and Barrett Mathew.
    "No Sweat" began writing as a boy often sitting for hours alone in a corner chair in the apartment that he grew up in, belonging to his grandfather, Russell  McClanahan. This apartment was located at the end of the Irvine, Kentucky Bridge and situated nearly atop his grandfather's "MACK" theater. In the production of the movie, The Flim Flam Man, staring George C. Scott, there is a scene in which is filmed recklessly driving across the same actual bridge. No Sweat's uneducated and domineering father operated a small fruit and vegetable stand located across the street of the apartment and his mother sold tickets in the theater; both were alcoholics. "No Sweat" spent much of his growing years swimming in the near-by Kentucky river, playing along the railroad tracks beside the apartment, being with his grandfather inside the theater, hunting Indian relics in the near-by plowed fields, catching pigeons roosting on the bridge and camping and caving while a boy scout in Troop 144 under the scoutmaster, Charles Vanhuss.
     "No Sweat" eventually found publishers to take some of his work in 2012; editor Rudy Thomas, Old Seventy Creek Press, publishing These Precious Days,  and editor Carol Itoh, Itoh Press, publishing Nefarious. In late August, 2015 No Sweat completed a book he had been working on and off on for over 30 years called LA GUERRE EST FINIE;  in 2015, he changed the title to, My Singer Island, and, as of this writing, is in final stages of editing.  My Singer Island is a 700 page non-fiction memoir taking place over sixty summers on Singer Island, Florida; many of those summers while living three month stints at The Colonnades Beach Hotel; the work involves No Sweat's relationship with John D. MacArthur, then the richest man in the USA, Luisa Lang and her father Will Lang,  LIFE magazine's best WW2 war correspondent and good friend of Ernest Hemingway, Arlo Gunthrie, folk singer, Guy Davenport, Literary critic, the Kennedy family and many others; along with the 300 pages of text are some 400 photographs; it is "a book for everyone.
Other writing projects include, The Confession of Edward W. Hawkins: Fact & FictionBlack Bluegrass, a collection of short stories he experienced while working in a small liquor store surrounded by black Americans in eastern Kentucky; Pigeon, a collection of stories involving his experiences and imaginations with racing pigeons and his lifelong relationship with Charles Heitzman of the French Sion fame.
Of note, No Sweat is a National acclaimed champion with racing pigeons having won more than 800 first places in both showing and racing. Unbridled, currently another one of his works in progress, is a collection of archaeological stories that No Sweat has experienced including his discovering the largest group of Arawak burials ever located in the Bahamas on an island called Eleuthera. His twenty-five years of excavations at Lincoln's experimental Civil War city, Camp Nelson, the thirty days he spent digging with the University of Kentucky while excavating Fort Boonesborough, his narrow escape from marijuana growers while digging some of the finest Kentucky red agates; some of which are now with The Smithsonian. And last, he hopes to complete a photo essay encompassing his beautiful wife’s life entitled, Chesteen.

Read more about No Sweat here

Visit No Sweat’s website…

No Sweat’s Riding & Writing Guest Posts…

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