Started out in Des Moines, Iowa this morning. About half way to Minneapolis I stopped for lunch at a diner off of interstate 35. My job in MN wasn’t till late evening so I was in no hurry for once. It’s always a treat to actually be able to sit down and have a nice breakfast or lunch in a restaurant instead of eating on the go in the truck.
I have been working on updating my iPad skills and trying out some new things so I was looking forward to spending a little bit of my free time working on that while waiting for dinner also. I walked into the diner with the small satchel I keep my iPad in and went to the bathroom. There were a bunch of old dudes hanging out in there so I’m sure it looked like a purse to them.
Sat down at a booth in the corner near the door so I wouldn’t be bothered by people asking me what I was doing… When it happens over and over again, it gets annoying. I put the iPad away when my grub came and no sooner had I started to eat than a guy came in the door, turned his head and stared at me. Feeling awkward, I nodded to him. He said, “hello young man, how are ya?” We talked for a few minutes and he sat down at my table like he expected I had been waiting for him all day.
He was a retired truck driver and we traded a few stories from cross country trips. He said he had been to Cleveland many times and actually got shot at down in the Flats back in the 70’s. He was amazed that I was a caricature artist from Cleveland traveling around and that I did caricatures on the iPad (I doubt if he knew what it was). He told me he had several from a hobo that used to come through town called Travelin’ Dave. He and his father used to get one every year from Dave. He had a sketchpad, some pencils in his pocket and I guess he carried some sort of easel too. The way he told it, he traveled around the country hopping trains and drawing pictures of people on the street for money on his travels.
Apparently there is a town near by called “Hobo” where there is a hobo “convention” and parade every year. They’ve been having it since he was a kid (he is 72) He talked about it like it was the 4th of July! The town made Mulligan Stew and everybody had a bowl… We started talking about hobos, tramps and how some modern ‘hobos’ are actually rich people who take off tramping to get away from it all for a little while and hop a train and live as homeless people for adventure. I told him I had met a few people like this at the Rainbow Gathering in Allegheny National Forest a few years back in PA. I told him about how the there were some very interesting people there. Some were really smart too. Just because someone is poor does not mean they are dumb or lazy- most often it is quite the opposite! The hippies at the Rainbow Gathering commandeered an area of a national park and made different camps in the Rainbow Village. Each camp had a theme and some of the members of the camps had been members for years and years. They would take donations of food and cook up some grub with whatever they had and pass it out to whoever came into their camp. The village had running water made with PVC pipes and hoses, suctioned out of springs and some camps even had electricity made with a paddlewheel from water from a nearby stream. Money is no good there so I drew caricatures to barter for stuff I wanted.
I suppose the man thought maybe I was a hobo of some sort. I have been homeless doing caricatures before when traveling. It was trying at times as any adventure is, but I made pretty good money and didn’t have to do anything I would regret later, lol. I/We always had enough for a campsite or hotel every night, some food and GOOD beer of course… Life’s too short to drink crappy beer. It was fun and interesting and it’s comforting to know that I’ll never go hungry! I have met a few guys like “Travelin’ Dave” in resort towns. Living the life of a busker and some of them have money. One guy my friend Ron and I met in Charleston, SC on our big ole tramp trip down to Key West (…more on that later!) had a boat that he traveled all over the world on. It was a sailboat and he docked it wherever the hell he pleased. If he needed to pay a dock fee he drew caricatures on the street or in bars to pay for it. He looked well fed and pleased with himself that he had not been sober in over 5 years. Ahhh…. The life!
The picture above was from the gig in Minneapolis tonight. There were some high school kids at the school for the weekend to try out the digs and orient themselves with the school. Some of them came up and got caricatures. One guy in particular, who looked and acted a lot like a young Conan O’Bryan was apparently a little bit giddy and he was acting kinda weird. I was teasing him about being all hopped up on whatever soda he was drinking. Some of the girls with him were too so I was goofing on him about tweaking out on the Pellagrino Pomegranate Juice he was drinking-which is probably the most foo foo sody I’ve ever heard of. Anyways, he didn’t know where he was in line and seemed kinda out of sorts when it was his turn. He asked the girl behind him to get in it with him. She did. I drew them together and goofed around with him more. His hair was a long unkempt mohawk so I drew it all over the place. He was super twitchy so I had him tweaking out in the drawing. Turns out he didn’t know the girl he was getting drawn with, so I drew him with a shirt that said “Like a Boss”, with a bottle of XXX Poma Gran It juice and asked the girl to put her number on it for him. Hee hee! It didn’t work out for him but fortunately, a few minutes later he came by with another group and was telling them how much he liked the caricature. This time he got another drawing with a VERY cute HS girl who he didn’t know and who was way cuter than the other one. He was still totally tweaking out the whole time (just high on life I guess) When I was done, this time she offered to put her number on it for him! I thought that was awesome and it kinda made my day tonight!
(Copyright Adam Pate, 2013)