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The man they called Gypsy
cliff dive
Image by Benjamin Lehman
I was shooting pictures along the rail way in Kent yesterday when I heard someone yell, "Camera!” from across the river. When I turned to see where it came from I saw two guys, shirtless, standing on a two story utility deck waving their arms at me. "Get this!” one man said as the other stood up on the rail. I yelled back, "Ready!" and with that the man on the rail heaved himself off of the edge and down into the waters below.

The man still on the deck beckoned me over to that side of the river. I realized I would be remiss not to meet these characters face-to-face and oh what characters they turned out to be.

Gypsy and Mike, tramps by trade, were welcoming and covered in smiles. Sharing the photo of Mike jumping off the rail elicited a few fist bumps and smackish high fives. A brief introduction revealed the nature of their lives, mostly living in Ohio during the summer months at the base of that waterfall. In the winter they would go their separate ways; sometimes living in Florida, sometimes living in Arizona. Gypsy was the older vagabond, hitch hiking in this manner for years. His mother, perhaps his last tie to Ohio, lived in a nursing home a few miles north.

Mike was the younger of the two but he was no stranger to hobo-living. He had arrived in Ohio the previous October and weathered the brutal winter living on the same deck we were standing on. “Hey, I’m going to jump.” was all the advanced warning I got before he hopped onto the rail again. I asked him if he was ever afraid of hitting the second deck below (which stuck out an extra 10 feet in comparison to the one we were standing on). “Just gotta jump out.” he answered. I barely had enough time to dial in my shutter speed before he was moving out and down.

“I’m going to take you on a tour of Kent!”, Gypsy said as he waited for Mike to make his way back up. “You have to see Brady’s Leap, man, it’s wild.”, and with that we were off. We spent the next 45 minutes traveling from historical plaque to historical plaque. Gypsy and Mike may have been tramps with no real home of their own but they both seemed genuinely invested in the history of the areas that they were staying in. Finally, near some dead-end trail with woods and river on one side and broken brick industry on the other we came to stop at one final Plaque, “Brady’s Leap” ( WikiPedia Entry on Brady).

I never had a chance to read the plaque for myself; Gypsy was so excited by its presence that he began to read it out loud. The cliff-note version of the story is as follows: Samuel Brady, a famous frontier scout from Pennsylvania, was ambushed near the Cuyahoga River by a band of native Indians. In order to escape he leapt over a 22 foot expanse of the river. The Indians didn’t dare attempt the same feat and instead opted to go the long way around.

After the revelry at the plaque and realizing that the hours were getting late, I told Mike and Gypsy that I had to get going onto my next destination. They nodded and gestured to the center of town, letting me know they were heading in that direction too. As we made our way back to the town square it offered me a chance to ask a few obligatory hobo related questions. Such gems as: “When do you have a chance to shave?”, “Do you really ride trains?”, and the ever popular, “Have you ever found a dead body?”

As we rounded the last corner a few dollars were handed over in their direction in exchange for their hospitality. A series of hearty goodbyes were also handed back and forth and with a final wave we parted ways. All-in-all it was only a few hours out of my day but it was an experience I doubt I’ll forget.

Alex Rosén i styrhuset på RS “Inge Steensland”
cliff dive
Image by Redningsselskapet
Fra Red bull cliff diving challenge i Grimstad 7. juli 2012, der Alex Rosén var medkonferansier. Redningsselskapet var til stede med RS "Inge Steensland". Etter konkurransen sjekket Alex vestbruken til sørlendingene (og tilreisende).

Alex får kjøre redningsskøyte – med Magnar Oppdal, Håvard Vedvik og Johnny Dolve.

Foto: Tanja Krangnes

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