Everyone has a story, no matter how insignificant we may think they are. These nine people, all having faced tragic or difficult circumstances, prove that we all can have an impact on the world around us, for better or worse.
9Ziggy the Bagman (b. 1950-ish)
Brisbane celebrity Ziggy the Bagman is homeless by choice (though he refuses the label “homeless”). He became a public figure in 2000 when politicians claimed his presence and hygiene were a hindrance to local businesses.
When a television network began a program to get him a home Ziggy made it known that he wasn’t interested. Despite being forced to move several times he seems to genuinely enjoy how he lives.
8The Leatherman (b. 1839, d. 1889)
This man (whose real name is unknown) would walk a three hundred sixty-five mile path from Connecticut to New York and back gain, over and over, in handmade leather clothes.
Allegedly fluent in French, he’d buy supplies (how he made money, no one’s sure) but kept conversation brief, ending it all together when asked about his past.
7The Cadillac Man (b. unknown)
Here’s a story of someone falling on hard times and rebounding. Upon becoming homeless this anonymous man kept journals of his life on the streets in Queens.
He eventually had a book published (“Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets”) with excerpts of his writing appearing in several magazines and newspapers. In late 2015 he was able to acquire housing.
6Raymond Lee Harvey (b. 1944)
This vagabond saw himself at the center of a presidential assassination plot. The mentally ill man alleged that three Latino men wanted him to serve as a distraction while they fired upon president Jimmy Carter from their hotel room.
The case has never been solved: the only evidence of the plot at all was a shotgun and shells found in one of the conspirator’s rooms, though they were long gone by then. Harvey was cleared on all charges and disappeared shortly afterward.
5Peter Joseph Bis (b. 1951, d. 2012)
A schizophrenic man in the D.C. Area, Bis was incredibly friendly, striking up conversations with anyone who passed him by. Bis was known for his deep intellect and memory, often surprising people with how much he knew and could recall from past conversations.
A lot of his past is difficult to decipher, however, since he was known to make wild claims about himself, such as holding several doctorates.
4Joye Patricia Brown (B. 1949, D. 2005)
This woman’s forced commitment to a psychiatric hospital was ruled unconstitutional, setting a precedent that someone can’t be involuntarily committed unless they are an obvious danger to themselves or others.
Brown lived on the streets after struggling with drug addiction and falling out with her family. Mayor Ed Koch sought to use her as an example of a new program targeting the homeless.
3Joe Comfort (B. 1952)
Comfort has endeared himself to the citizens of New Haven, Connecticut by doing odd jobs for anyone who can pay him, from homeowners to college fraternities. Formerly employed by the Ringling Bros.
Circus, Comfort claims his epilepsy has made it difficult for him to find consistent employment as potential employers see him as a liability.
2Leslie Cochran (B. 1951, D. 2012)
A fixture in Austin, Texas, Cochran was known for his strange clothing, oftentimes cross-dressing to draw attention to himself.
Once he achieved minor celebrity he used his new platform to discuss issues facing the city, surprising people with his keen observations and how well-spoken he was. The city has designated the day he died, March 8th, as Leslie Day.
1The Wandering Scribe (B. Unknown)
Another instance of someone using their tragic experience to pull themselves out of it. This anonymous woman blogged about her life living in a car in the London woods.
The blog (here) caught the attention of mainstream media and literary agents, landing her a book deal and a home. However, there are many people who contend that it’s all a hoax, pointing to inconsistencies in her writing as proof.