Monday, December 15, 2014

Guest Post: Reinhardt Remembrances, by David Dubrow

Context: David wanted to share some thoughts about Hank Reinhardt, Toni Weisskopf's late husband. Since we're all Baen fans here, I thought his comments fit the general theme and tone of this blog.

I was lucky enough to have worked with Hank Reinhardt on two instructional video productions: The Myth of the Sword and Viking Sword.  Hank was a great man, a scholar of the blade who practiced what he researched to determine what worked from what didn’t.  While our short association doesn’t permit me to call him a friend, I will say that I am greatly honored to have spent time with him, to have been a guest in his house, to have talked with him about his life and work and family.  We shot The Myth of the Sword in 1999 and Viking Sword in 2000 at his house in Georgia.

A few months before the Myth of the Sword shoot, I went with my wife to visit her parents, who happened to live in Atlanta at the time.   My employer suggested that I make it something of a business trip, so I visited Hank at his office at Museum Replicas, the business he’d founded.  I remember that his office was pleasantly cluttered, with sharp things and cans of Dr. Pepper everywhere.  We chatted about things in general and what we planned to do on the shoot.  On the way out, I went to the storefront and purchased a Hunga Munga for my boss.  The nature of my employment was such that this was not unusual.

The video crew was small: me and my boss.  We did everything: set design, lighting, sound, cameras, the works.  To make things easier, on the Myth of the Sword shoot, Hank suggested we stay at his house.  One of the things he said about that was, “You’ll find that there are swords in every room of the house except for the guest rooms.  Why would I want to arm a guest?”  I can still hear it echoing in memory, and it always makes me smile. 

For the Myth of the Sword shoot, two of Hank’s friends from Canada came in to help with some of the historical reenactments.  One was a man named Peter Fuller, and the other was a man named Kelly.  Peter Fuller, if you haven’t heard of him, is one of the greatest reproduction armorers in the world.  I worked with him on two videos: one on making a medieval great helm, and the other on making hourglass gauntlets.  Over the course of time, Peter and I became friends.  He’s incredibly skilled, humble, and ethical, and was a great friend of Hank’s.  Kelly was a good guy, too, just for the record. 

One of the things we did on both shoots was test swords on various materials.  Due to Hank’s association with Museum Replicas, we had plenty of cardboard shipping tubes available, so he slashed some of those into chunks.  With a two-handed sword called a grossemesser he chopped a phone book in half.  The most interesting experiments were when we put a gambeson and mail onto a pork shoulder and cut that to show what a sword could do against armor.  One valuable lesson we learned was that if you’re going to put on mail, make sure you have something on underneath it: a gambeson, a shirt, something.  Because if you don’t and you take a good chop to the armor, whoever fixes you up (if you survive) is going to have a hell of a time pulling links of mail out of your flesh later. 

On the Viking Sword shoot, we had a number of Hank’s friends show up to help, all of them local.  At least one of them was an armorer from Museum Replicas.  They were a great group of people, and after the longest day of shooting, they set up a dinner party.  I chatted with a number of really interesting folks, including Toni Weisskopf Reinhardt, Hank’s wife.  At the time, I only knew Baen because they’d picked up the Wild Cards series and published three new books, so I got to talk to her about that.

I’ve worked with many fascinating people during my time in publishing, but none made quite the impression on me that Hank did.  I wish I had known him better. 


David Dubrow is a writer who lives in Florida.  His first novel is titled The Blessed Man and the Witch.  You can read more about him here.

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