The Itinerate Artist

Back in the seventies, the van craze placed custom decorative paintwork in the limelight. That led to spectacular paint jobs on tour busses for country and rock bands. Those busses sported scenes of a Mississippi paddlewheel river boat, a multicolored airbrush version of an album cover or a mountain view with a super-imposed masthead of the band’s name. The movie Smokey and the Bandit made the hand-painted image of a running team of horses pulling a stagecoach famous. In those days the only decorative work on any vehicle was hand painted. 

As I drove along the highway in pursuit of the next painting opportunity, I occasionally saw a circus performers rig. I beeped the horn in response to their wave and reminisced the camaraderie that took place when I was part of a group that trouped together, performing in a new town every day.

I evolved thanks to this background. With the skills and the uncanny advantage to be efficient on the road, I embraced the emerging trend among motorhome owners and satisfied their desire to look like touring country stars.

By this time, my travel pattern took me to most of the states east of the Mississippi. I had a formula to keep travel efficient. Between motorhome rallies in various vacation areas and regular stops at the Blue Bird and Fleetwood plants, I filled the time with the requests received to travel to their home to accomplish the work. I waited until I received three requests from one state and, like a circus, planned a tour through that state to accomplish those works in an efficient run. I thrived using the lifestyle learned during tours on a circus. I drove across various parts of the country to accomplish works of art on location. I even visited John Herriott at the Land of Little Horses in Gettysburg where he performed for the summer season.

Michigan remained a regular stop each year because the horse and mule spent the summer there. I still considered Jackson headquarters although I pursued little sign work there. My business had changed since my sign painter days but still I had to handle correspondence responsibilities. My new clientele needed a way to contact me. I utilized a telephone answering service.  Getting my mail was another challenge.

There was no procedure available with the Post Office to provide what I needed with this itinerate lifestyle. Postal regulations require the submission of an official change of address. That would create a mess. Since I travel, I never wanted permanent change.  Rather than attempt anything at the giant post office in Jackson, I took my quandary to where one person ran the little post office in Clarklake.

I personally enrolled her to my situation. This wonderful lady understood. We created a solution. We adopted a procedure where I called in occasionally with a request to have mail forwarded to a specific location. She used the petty cash I left with her for that purpose. Her willingness helped with the success I enjoyed during those nine years on the road. I could never have accomplished so much without her.

Years later I was delighted to see her and her husband retired and camping in their motor home in south Florida


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