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The Vagabonds

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2008.

The truth is that it is natural, as well as necessary, for every man to be a vagabond occasionally.

Samuel H. Hammond

Tramps, rogues, and hobos. These are just a few of the names given to people whose lives are characterized by almost continuous traveling. While the term “vagabond” originates as a legal reference to vagrancy, it began to take on different meaning in the 19th century when it became more closely associated with Bohemianism. The critic Arthur Compton-Rickett defined the type as men “with a vagrant strain in the blood, a natural inquisitiveness about the world beyond their doors.”

Jackson, Cady and Matt

Jackson Henry-Lester, Cady May, and Matt Paolo have been traveling the country separately and together for some time now and dropped by the MobileBooth East in Roanoke, Virginia to talk about where they’ve been and where they hope to go. They weighed in on higher education, small towns versus big cities, and meeting new people.

“I’ve been traveling since I was little,” says Cady. “Roaming around. It’s what I’m meant to do. I started in Davenport, Iowa, going to school at Saint Ambrose with a Public Relations degree, then transferred to Saint Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lived in Minneapolis for about five years going to school for Psychology and just couldn’t do it any more. I was really close to graduating but I just couldn’t do it anymore. Don’t go to college. It’s a waste of money.”

Jackson, Cady, and Matt differ on whether towns or cities are better. “I really enjoy being out of the city,” says Cady. “Right now, I’m staying with Jackson’s parents. It’s beautiful farmland. We still haven’t seen the cows that [Jackson] promised us but we picked some apples and picked up some pears and that was wonderful.”

“I really, I don’t even like small towns to be honest with you,” says Jackson. Do you like small towns? They creep me out a lot.”

“I love small towns,” says Matt. “I actually used to live up on an Indian reservation in Walker, Minnesota and that was a great little place. Everybody knew everybody. When me and my girlfriend at the time showed up everybody was in our face trying to figure out who we were and what we were doing in their town. I was really nice just having them, like the Mayor would just come up, this old lady would be like, ‘Who are you? What are you doing here.’ ”

“You know where I want to go? Portland, Oregon,” says Jackson.

“I love Portland,” says Cady. “I went camping there one time and I got there really late when I arrived and I found the campsite through the Yellow Pages. And then I drove to this place which was in the middle of nowhere in Oregon near Portland, though, just outside the city. We get there and we hear this noise and it sounds like a little child yelling for help. It turns out to be peacocks. But the guy that owned the campground came out and he’s like, ‘It’s not like the Bates Hotel or anything.’ ”

“It’s good to be retired,” says Matt.

A rolling stone gathers no moss, but in Matt’s case “retirement” has allowed him to pick up a few songs along the way to where ever. Take a listen to this ditty called “Fun In The Summer.”

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