Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Possum Living

After dropping out of school in 7th grade, the young Dolly Freed became an expert on self education and living off the land. Her dad Frank had quit his job and the two lived off gardening, grains, light hunting, and deals, more in a pioneer way than a hippie way - it wasn't motivated by fads or politics. However this was 1978 and the American economy was up shit creek, much as it is today. When they eventually did need some money Dolly decided she would write a "how to" book on living cheaply. She wrote it up, went to the library and looked up contact info for book agents, and the next thing you know Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money was a cult classic and best seller. Dolly did press tours and interviews for a while but she really just wanted to get home to swimming and fishing.

Jezebel did a cool little piece billing her as "the coolest teenager of all time" and after watching the below videos on youtube I agree. I kept expecting her to say something naive or out of touch but even when her stepdad explains that he works to pay his mortgage she gives a well informed and researched answer about options that might cost far less. She's also very clear that she's isn't against the idea of working, she just thinks everyone should be able to enjoy their job, or choose to not work.

Recently journalist, Paige Williams, wrote a piece about finding Dolly Freed and what she's been up to. Dolly eventually grew bored of living at home and wanted to go off to college. She went to Rutgers, Temple, and finally Drexel Univ. eventually working as a bonafide rocket scientist for NASA where she met her husband of 20 years. Dolly and her husband now live a "half possum" lifestyle - she works as a nature educator for various schools and libraries and her husband is a music engineer. She still does a great deal of gardening and cheap living but now indulges in things like olive oil and cookbooks, she's considering writing a Possum Living Cookbook, which personally I'd be really interested in.

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