Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Another Duval Educator Has His Novel Published

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Another Duval Educator Has His Novel Published

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan D. Brandenburg, Shorelines correspondent

Steve Robertson's first adventure occurred on the day he was born.

"It was 1944; hurricanes didn't have names back then," he said. "But the hospital at MacDill Air Force Base [near Tampa] was underwater and they had to evacuate my mother and her newborn son."

His introduction to the world by the raging winds of a hurricane was prophetic. The young Florida boy was destined to seek and find adventure for the rest of his life.

An educator in the Duval County school system for the past 36 years, the Neptune Beach resident's wide variety of experiences "out of school" would make an interesting novel. He recently published his first novel, titled Ranch Boy, loosely based on his youthful experiences as a cowboy in Sebring.

"From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a cowboy," said Robertson. "My brother, Doug, and I played cowboys and Indians all the time. The summer I was 15, my dreams came true. I got to work at a ranch in Sebring, Florida."

Robertson's book, dedicated to his wife, Kathy, and daughters, Summer and Sunny, as well as his Sebring football coach, Glenn Odham, is a coming-of-age novel set in the late 1950s that takes the reader back to a more innocent time. Written with the sensitivity of an artist and a poet, the book chronicles tales of danger and courage, discovery and romance.

"The places you live, the people you are around and the things you do as a child are so important to the person you become," said Robertson. The son of a World War II fighter pilot who was wounded in the war and spent the rest of his life wielding his war injury like a sword, Robertson experienced bitter discipline as a youth. He found a new sense of freedom and self-reliance that cowboy summer.

Getting up before daylight and toiling until dusk, Robertson discovered quickly that being a cowboy was nothing like the movies. That summer, he worked in the orange groves, learned to saddle and ride horses, brand and herd cattle, rode a Brahma bull named Satan, was nearly struck by lightning, encountered rattlesnakes, alligators, intense heat and hail storms. Each day brought new challenges as the blisters on the boy's hands grew hard and callused. Life-and-death decisions had to be made and acted on instantly.

"Being a real cowboy was harder than anything I'd encountered in life," Robertson recalled. "It was raw and real. When I went to football practice after that summer, I had gained a new kind of strength that weight-lifting can't supply."

Robertson won a football scholarship to Newberry College in South Carolina, and his quest for adventure took another form.

"I became a major playboy and just about flunked out of college," he said. "My English professor was a former athlete and he understood me. …

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