Miss Cellania has a long running (and very popular) series of articles on our pal mental_floss where she chronicles the various local characters that became famous one way or the other.
As you'd expect, there are quite a bit of eccentric and downright crazy characters, but this one really struck me:
The Blind Broom Man
The Rev. Livingston Wills began going door to door selling brooms in Omaha, Nebraska in the 50s even though he couldn’t see well enough to distinguish cash from notebook paper. He had to trust that people paid for his brooms, and for the most part, they did. Wills was also pastor at the Tabernacle Church of Christ Holiness for decades, although many of his broom customers weren’t aware of his other job for many years. People appreciated Wills’ kind words and cheerfulness, as well as his unrelenting work ethic. When word got around that Rev. Wills was sick and in financial straits, the people of Nebraska came through with donations for his care. He was 91 years old when he died in 2008. See a 2004 multimedia presentation on Wills’ life here.
The entire series is fascinating:
- How to Be a Local Character
- 7 Fascinating Local Characters
- 9 Wonderful Local Characters
- 7 More Unforgettable Local Characters
- and the final post in the series, 6 of Your Favorite Local Characters