Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 Hermits

Stacy Conradt
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Don't you ever have days where you'd just like to chuck it all and go live in a hut in Hawaii or something? I know lots of hermits end up in the mountains, but that's not for me. If I'm going to live off the land with absolutely no possessions, I at least want to be somewhere enjoyable. Here are 10 people who actually followed through on that urge - I tried to avoid hermits of the spiritual kind because there are a ton of them.

harrill
harrill /

2. Noah John Rondeau was famous as the hermit of the Adirondack Mountains. Prior to hermithood, Rondeau was a guide in the western Adirondack High Peaks, which served him well when he retreated from society. He started living alone in the Cold River area in 1929 and was so reclusive that he even coded all of his journals with ciphers. The Conversation Department kicked him out in 1950, at which time 67-year-old Noah John started working as Santa Claus in Wilmington, N.Y. This didn't really create enough of an income for him to live off of, though, and he eventually went on welfare. Although he died in 1967, his ciphers weren't cracked until 1992.

penn
penn /

4. Willard Kitchener MacDonald was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, but hid in a shack near Gully Lake in Canada for more than 60 years. His reasoning? He wanted to avoid fighting in WWII. His records are a little sketchy, as you imagine a hermit's might be, but it's believed that he took up residence in the shack sometime between 1944 and 1950. He lived there alone until 2002, when his hut perished in a forest fire, taking his few possessions with it. The County then built him a little cabin, but in 2003, when some people tried to make him seek medical help, he fled back into woods. His dead body was found on June 27, 2004.

lucas
lucas /
cave
cave /

7. Manfred Gnädinger was a hermit who lived in the village of Camelle south of Germany. No one in the village knew where he had been beforehand, but he arrived wearing nice clothes and appeared to be well-educated. The story is that when a teacher in town rejected him, he built himself a little hut on the beach and lived there for the next 40 years. He wore only a loincloth and was a vegetarian who only ate what he grew. When the Prestige oil tanker sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 2002, it claimed Man (as he was known) as one of its victims along with a plethora of natural wildlife. OK, it's not like he drowned in oil or anything like that, but it's locally believed that Man was so devastated by the destruction to his natural habitat and the environment that he died. And it's true, he was found dead in his hut just a month after the oil spill.

8. Despina Achladioti was a Greek woman born on the island of Kastellorizo in 1890. Just before the start of WWII she said to the deserted island of Rho with her husband and her mom. The three of them lived off of goats, chickens and a garden for a couple of years, but after just two years on the island both her mother and husband died. Despina stayed on the island, though, and made it her mission to fly the Greek flag every single day. When she died in 1982, the Greek military rewarded her with a burial on the island with full military honors.

ted
ted /

10. Herman's Hermits. Sorry, I couldn't resist. "Herman" is actually Peter Noone, but he became known as Herman after a pub owner told Noone that he looked like boy Sherman from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Noone misheard and thought he said "Herman." "Hermits" was chosen simply for the alliteration.

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