“Shorty” Robbins isn’t your average grandma. For one thing, her house isn’t filled with delicate china and plastic-covered couches. Actually, it has wheels! Robbins lives in a “tiny house” RV that looks straight out of the Victorian era, and she uses it to travel the country to pursue her preferred pastime: engaging in civil-war reenactments. Interestingly, though, her home doesn’t actually feel that tiny, and she also hasn’t totally given up modern conveniences. She just hides them well!
First things first: how did Shorty get her unusual nickname? She told website Florida News Line, “My given name is Robin, and a family member gave me the nickname ‘Pigeon’ when I was young. By the time I got to junior high school, some mean kids started calling me ‘Shorty’ since I wasn’t very tall. They intended it to be a tease, but I liked the name better than my previous nickname, so ‘Shorty’ stuck!”
Bitten by the reenactment bug
For nearly three decades Robbins has been a keen Civil-War reenactor. She revealed, “I was working at MOSH [the Museum of Science and History] in Jacksonville on its Maple Leaf exhibit. I met the divers from the expedition to salvage the ship and they got me into reenacting. It was the summer of 1994, and I asked some questions about it; the next thing I knew I was in a hoop skirt and a corset and going to events!”
Shorty fully commits
When it comes to reenacting, Robbins has never been someone to do things by halves. She revealed, “Sometimes I do first-person reenactments, like as Mrs. Chadwick, who was the only female passenger onboard the Maple Leaf, or Lucy Wilson, from Lumpkin, Georgia. I also do civilian reenactments; these represent the women who held it together when the men went out to fight.”
It’s often a family affair
“We research ahead of time and find out who the women are and why they are there,” continued Robbins. “We demonstrate things like sewing, cooking, and making bandages. Generally, reenactors pick the thing that they’re good at: I did period games and cooking big, involved meals over the open fire. Sometimes I and my whole family will participate as reenactors in an event.”