Non-motorized nomads

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jacqueg

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Thought this might be fun - nomads doing it the old-fashioned way! If you run across any others, please add them!

First is/was Peace Pilgrim. She walked America with nothing but an apron to carry her belongings. Slept under bridges when she had to. Carried little or no money, depended entirely on the kindness of others. Religiously motivated, but I'm pretty sure she came to love the life. She died in 1981. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Pilgrim

Three Mules, aka John Sears. He started out with three mules, just walks, mostly in California. He has a point to prove, that the roads are free to anyone who wants to use them, including pedestrians and mules. He's been doing this since 2003. Yup, he gets arrested. Keeps on doing it anyway. https://calcoasttimes.com/2020/01/26/3-mule-nomad-arrested-in-paso-robles/ He has a FB page - https://www.facebook.com/3Mules

Aaron Fletcher, nomadic sheepherder and guerilla grazer. His home-made wagon is drawn by sheep. He lives (temporarily) on other peoples' land occasionally. Supports himself by selling products from his sheep and helping people out on their farms. He's a real missionary for learning now how to live after TWEAWKI. Travels mostly in Oregon. https://faircompanies.com/videos/went-homeless-done-guerrilla-grazing-by-choice-ever-since/ (I believe we've talked about him before.) He has a Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1118913611870555/user/100014468863310

Ezer Way, nomad. She travels with a passel of animals, but they don't do the work of pulling her wagon, she does! She is religiously inspired, wants to live like Jesus did. Only been living like this for a couple of years, will be interesing to see how long she can do it. She has a facebook page - but you'll have to look it up, she seems to have run afoul of FB for some reason. https://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/state/south-carolina/article271688682.html
 
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This guy did it on a bicycle:

Steven K. Roberts (born September 25, 1952) is an American journalist, writer, cyclist, archivist, and explorer who rode his computerized bicycle, a modified Avatar 2000, pulling a trailer with solar panels and a laptop, and gaining press coverage, across the United States of America from 1983 to 1991. His book, Computing Across America, documents his journey.[1][2]

The first year and a half of his bike tour covered over 10,000 miles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_K._Roberts
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This man was on foot:

The Leatherman (c. 1839–1889 (aged 49–50)) was a vagabond famous for his handmade leather suit of clothes who traveled through the northeastern United States on a regular circuit between the Connecticut River and the Hudson River from roughly 1857 to 1889.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leatherman_(vagabond)
 
We used to call these people “hobos”, who rode the rails around the country, established camps near the railroad tracks, and knew where in each town they could get a free meal.

Where I grew up, these men could be seen being fed at the back door of the hospital kitchen.
 
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Three Mules, aka John Sears. He started out with three mules, just walks, mostly in California. He has a point to prove, that the roads are free to anyone who wants to use them, including pedestrians and mules. He's been doing this since 2003. Yup, he gets arrested. Keeps on doing it anyway. https://calcoasttimes.com/2020/01/26/3-mule-nomad-arrested-in-paso-robles/ He has a FB page - https://www.facebook.com/3Mules
He also has is own web-page...
https://3mules.com/
 
We used to call these people “hobos”, who rode the rails around the country, established camps near the railroad tracks, and knew where in each town they could get a free mea.

Where I grew up, these men could be seen being fed at the back door of the hospital kitchen.
My dad used to tell me stories when as a teen in Bakersfield he and his brothers would hop on trains for a ride when they got bored and wanted to go somewhere for the weekend...
 
Boy I’m old, grew up around the rail road and railroaders. My grandparents big Beech tree out front by the road had hundreds of carvings made by the hobos letting others know a bed, meal and bath could be had by asking. We had a barracks of sorts in their old carriage house and always had several stay every night, even when I was little.
 
My grandmother managed a Greyhound station and I worked there in college. Lots of interesting people passed through.
 
Considering that motorized vehicles have only been apart of human existence for abit over a hundred years; humanity has essentially been living as non motorized nomads for most of its evolutional life. Nothing new here. Such persons can actually be considered the lagging traditionalists.

The modern novelty is actually living as a nomad in a motorized vehicle having simply replaced the horse/oxen drawn covered wagon with an engine/motor.

As I see it…….INTJohn
 
Considering that motorized vehicles have only been apart of human existence for abit over a hundred years; humanity has essentially been living as non motorized nomads for most of its evolutional life. Nothing new here. Such persons can actually be considered the lagging traditionalists.

The modern novelty is actually living as a nomad in a motorized vehicle having simply replaced the horse/oxen drawn covered wagon with an engine/motor.

As I see it…….INTJohn
Being a traveler used to hold a lot more significance, especially when you consider that a trip 40 miles away from you would take about 5 days to make round-trip on foot...
 
I remember the first Nomad I ever encountered. There had been older men often called "bum's" to come to our door begging but this man was quite different. It was in the later 1950;'s and he was a novelty feature at a local discount store known as "Whiz Discount". The man went by the name "Jack" and he rode his motorized bicycle that he called "The Defiance Motorcycle". Jack was a tall fellow dressed in a black suit with a top hat (with goggles), a white shirt, and a red tie that had white letters going down the tie spelling his name". An older fellow with long silver hair and beard, modest, self assured, and a good speaker who explained how he came from being a newspaperman to this present lifestyle during the great depression of the 1930's.

Jack was a photo journalist of sorts back then and had photos displayed on a wall mounted display he stood in front of to show himself in various places around the USA with his motorized bicycle. A simple motor over the front wheel with head light and tail light on what looked like a heavy "industrial strength" bicycle. Nothing too flashy about it. One feature men in the audience commented on was a small light mounted on this black canister (possibly a battery box) that was lit when he traveled after dark. He explained that if it wasn't lit the tail light had probably burnt out thus he could stop and troubleshoot the problem. ( an early warning safety system that also prevented issues with the small town LEO's )

Jack referred to himself as an "Overlander" and carried everything (a real minimalist) in a duffle bag mounted on a sidewise rigged carrier rack over the rear wheel. The motor bike was painted black with no chrome. (possibly so it wouldn't be visible to a LEO's spot lights at night when in his encampment) I would guess the man was in his 60's then, too young for WW1 and too old for WW2. The store owner booked such personalities as a way to get people to his place. and see the deals his place offered.

He could ride the bicycle by pedal power or use the engine but he was the first nomadic traveler I ever saw.

His rig looked something like this.

Defiance MB.jpg
 
There HAVE to be pictures of Jack out there somewhere...local historical society, most likely...and there's a book or an Indie film about him waiting to be birthed. Did he leave journals? I would think a newspaperman would. (I see Willem Dafoe playing him in the film) (or Glenn Close in drag)
 
I've looked and looked since I've been on the internet. I was a kid with my parents when we went to the store that Sunday. I'm guessing dad saw or heard about the event from someone. Jack appeared once at the Rt 60 east store (the building is still there) only once that I know of.

Whiz Discount Stores story

I remember some of the older men speculating that Jack or the bicycle with it's small motor couldn't travel the country as they were being led to believe. They thought it was just a "medicine show" and that "Jack" most likely had a panel van parked somewhere that he would put the bike in to travel to the next engagement and live out of it using YMCA's (as we would use a Planet Fitness today) as places to clean up etc while on his way. But that was only speculation.

My father traveled in his work and found Jack's talk to be believable but he questioned the logistics of traveling the country only on that motorbike. As a little kid growing up in Appalachia there were still people who traveled and gave lectures on different subjects at different places. I was taken to several of these events. Churches here had traveling "Chalk Talk Artist" who drew on newsprint tablets as they talked on biblical themes and even sang as they drew a variety of Holy Land themes to lecture from. Even Mark Twain did this stuff in his day and time. I imagine that they had agents that booked them back then like today's TED Talks, Delphi Talks, and Speakers Bureau speakers.

The last time I spoke with my dad about this he told me that Jack spoke of "interesting" things he had seen in his travels. On this forum we have an "As Seen on the Road" board that kind of does this. Mom thought a lot of the men were just jealous of Jack and his lifestyle.

I have in my edjautoservices site an RSS window with link into the "Squat the Planet" forum which is about non motorized Nomads.
 
Having known people who've ridden their bikes from coast to coast, I can't see the impossibility of riding a motorized bike like his anywhere he chose to go. Got a hill to climb? Put it on. Flatlands or downhill? By all means coast or pedal.
But if the guy was a cadger, what was his motivation? Handouts? Minor celebrity?
Yeah, he could have been a cadger...if he stayed in just your area all the time chances are he was...but he might not have been, and--to me--that makes him worthy of a look.
I'd imagine that Athens' and Marietta's newspaper morgues are in the historical societies down there; characters turn up in those places, even only as "How It Was" memories of old residents years later.
 
I agree. A book or Indie film would be great as many of us would enjoy it. Bob Wells played well in "Nomad Land" which has to be better than the third or fourth remake of an old movie from the 60's like 1 Million Years BC. (as Raquel is gone now)

There is just something about traveling on a bicycle or motorbike with the wind in your face that allows ones senses a closer engagement with the world around them. At 20 mph
there would be time, as if in slow motion, to absorb the sights, sounds, and smells as they ride. So many in an audience will not have ridden on a bicycle since childhood and many never on a motorbike. Even those among us who Nomad in a Van. I can imagine the stimulation of what Jack saw when riding in the twilight, in the night in a city, or in the early dawn hours around a water front at sunrise. A quality of experience few "Job men & women" ever get to enjoy.
 
You know the town, the date, the scenario of the photo display, the man’s basic story and his first name. Write to the news paper and tell your story. They are always looking to do history pieces on interesting events about a town’s history. The reporter of the paper will have access to the newspaper’s archives. There might have been an article written at that time. If not an article it would have been part of an advertisement or event calendar. The local historical society is another group that might have access to newspaper archives. They too like to create articles about the past. It is an interesting subject, reach out to them.

You never said the name of the town, if you had I could likely find out more. If that is the correct Whiz Bang Discount store then the owner who started that business also owned a bicycle shop. That might have been the connection between Jack and why there was a photo exhibit of his work at Whiz Bang Discount.

Research is easy if you see the connections and can pull up resources such as the people in a town who would have fun ferreting out the info and benefit from publishing it. You have the right bait and tackle to reel this one in.
 
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There is just something about traveling on a bicycle or motorbike with the wind in your face that allows ones senses a closer engagement with the world around them. At 20 mph
there would be time, as if in slow motion, to absorb the sights, sounds, and smells as they ride.
I agree; twelve years ago I was taking daily 80-100 mile bicycle rides on the California coast and shorter rides in the Willamette valley. One problem with riding is outrunning dogs, which I did on occasion. I would love to take a 1000-2000 mile trip by bicycle if not for cars, dogs and logistics.
 
For all the miles I put in bike riding I never had as many problems with dogs as I did with Canadian Geese. Riding by a park, those 30-pound boogers would be on ya like in-season blackflies, and only head-swats with a bike pump would drive them off. And I got surprised once by a female elk on a blind corner while hiking. Thankfully it wasn't a male in rut. But running into that curious 900-pound lady was 10X better than one of those damn geese.
 
It is impressive to be up close and personal with an elk. Driving on the trans-Canada "highway" (or country road) west of Thunder Bay thirty years ago, I had to stop because a moose stood in the middle of the highway. I sat there for about 20 minutes until the moose decided to leave the highway. A goose can have a serious attitude; I am lucky to have never had a goose problem.
 
As for the Whiz Stores, two of the four buildings are still standing and have been occupied by many other proprietors since Joe Crans passing 40 yeas ago. (those buildings are outside the city limits) The best I can come up with is to contact one older retired reporter from the local paper and ask how he would approach investigating this. Then there is the Library microfilms archive if it would turn up anything. ( assuming Crans paid for Advertising in the newspaper or focused more on Promoting with in store events )

But most of the non motorized Nomads I've seen since seem to rely on hitching rides as they travel. The city market where I live is all but defunct now but the Truck Driveway still exist and does well on the wholesale level. There are "non motorized Nomads" who lurk there to serve as "lumper's" (those who load or unload trucks for money or rides) Those who are strictly on foot and traveling may get harassed by LEO's for vagrancy. (suspected of pan handling or theft) So it's my guess that those non motorized souls east of the Mississippi River may try and hitch rides to avoid confrontations.
 

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