The Quintessential Homeless Genesis Story I found off the Highway in a Mid-Missouri College Town
He states his origin on a farm in some backwoods town of the crumbling heart of the old south; but truly his story begins on the bank of the Mississippi, down by New Orleans. Hiring out his hand for labor on the fish and shrimping boats of the lower bayou, his young back did well for his belly and he held his head high.
But one day his feet began to tire of the rocking boats and his heart yearned to roam; so he hitched out to some Florida town, a destination ’til landed known only to the stars. And there his luck turned sour, like milk carried along the roadside for days on end. Sleeping under the cover of a bridge, he found a piece of cardboard to pen his first flag. “Hungry, Anything Helps,” or something of the sort written in sad letters dripping from the damp and dreary Florida rains. He hid his eyes in shame from the passerbys, few answering his plea with their pocket change.
The biggest moment of those dark days, an old man fondly remembered as he sat leisurely in his wooded domain, was when a young suburban-Florida soul suddenly gave him enough money for a hot sandwich at the roadside stop across the way. He took the change in shinning gratitude and walked as if to the kingdom of heaven to that little road-food hut.
From then on, he flagged with a smile the highway exits and roadside stops of America, accepting a dollar or a ride from whomever and to where ever until, like a leaf in the autumn breeze, he landed off the State Highway 6 in Columbia, Missouri. There, he camped out for many years before working for lumber and such at the Lowes across the road; and with that he built his hut, upgrading his wood-burning stove every few years as he could.
Ten or twelve years he lived in his cozy one-room home until the state took notice of his defacto land seizure. Luckily some local lawyers, hippie-types of convenience who tend to flock to oasis-like college towns in the dark depths of our country’s interior, came together to help this now old man and longtime resident of their little town. They pulled out old land grant acts and threw together a “Homestead” claim, stating that someone living on state owned land for a given duration of time held claim to that land by the ancient western expansion laws on homesteading.
And with that the old homeless wanderer claimed his home. And pays taxes on it to this day.