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Last of Idaho's legendary loners dies-Richard Zimmerman, 94, lived in caves and never owned a telephone or a TV. Offbeat lifestyle

 
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04/24/2010 01:06 AM
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Last of Idaho's legendary loners dies-Richard Zimmerman, 94, lived in caves and never owned a telephone or a TV. Offbeat lifestyle
FULL W/PHOTOS>
[link to www.idahostatesman.com]


Death of 'Caveman' ends an era in Idaho
Richard Zimmerman, known to all as Dugout Dick, succumbs at 94


Known as the "Salmon River Caveman," Richard Zimmerman lived an essentially 19th century lifestyle, a digital-age anachronism who never owned a telephone or a television and lived almost entirely off the land.

"He was in his home at the caves at the end, and it was his wish to die there," said Connie Fitte, who lived across the river. "He was the epitome of the free spirit."

Richard Zimmerman had been in declining health when he died Wednesday.

Few knew him by his given name. To friends and visitors to his jumble of cave-like homes scrabbled from a rocky shoulder of the Salmon River, he was Dugout Dick.

He was the last of Idaho's river-canyon loners that date back to Territorial days. They are a unique group that until the 1980s included canyon contemporaries with names like Beaver Dick, Cougar Dave and Wheelbarrow Annie, "Buckskin Bill" (real name Sylvan Hart) and "Free Press Frances" Wisner. Fiercely independent loners, they lived eccentric lives on their own terms and made the state more interesting just by being here.

Most, like Zimmerman, came from someplace else. Drawn by Idaho's remoteness and wild places removed from social pressures, they came and spent their lives here, leaving only in death.

Some became reluctant celebrities, interviewed about their unusual lifestyles and courted by media heavyweights. Zimmerman was featured in National Geographic magazine and spurned repeated invitations to appear on the "Tonight Show."

"I ride Greyhounds, not airplanes," he said in a 1993 Statesman interview. "Besides, the show isn't in California. The show is here."

Cort Conley, who included Zimmerman in his 1994 book "Idaho Loners", said that "like Thoreau, he often must have smiled at how much he didn't need. É What gave him uncommon grace and dignity for me were his spiritual life, his musical artistry, his unperturbed acceptance of life as it is, and being a WWII veteran who had served his country and harbored no expectations in return."

His metamorphisis to Dugout Dick began when he crossed a wooden bridge over the Salmon River in 1947 and built a makeshift home on the side of a hill. He spent the rest of his life there, fashioning one cavelike dwelling after another, furnishing them with castoff doors, car windows, old tires and other leavings.

"I have everything here," he said. "I got lots of rocks and rubber tires. I have plenty of straw and fruit and vegetables, my dog and my cats and my guitars. I make wine to cook with. There's nothing I really need."

Some of his caves were 60 feet deep. Though he "never meant to build an apartment house," he earned spending money by renting them for $2 a night. Some renters spent one night; others chose the $25 monthly rate and stayed for months or years.

He lived in a cave by choice. Moved by a friend to a care center in Salmon at age 93 because he was in failing health, he walked out and hitchhiked home.

Bruce Long, who rented one of his caves and looked after him, said the care center "had bingo and TV, but things like that held no interest for him. He just wanted to live in his cave.

"People said he was the only person they'd ever known who was absolutely self-sufficient. He didn't work for anybody. He worked for himself."

Born in Indiana in 1916, Zimmerman grew up on farms in Indiana and Michigan, the son of a moonshiner with a mean streak. He rebelled against his domineering father and ran away at a young age, riding the rails west and learning the hobo songs he later would play on a battered guitar for guests at his caves.

He punched cows and worked as a farmhand, settling in Idaho's Lemhi Valley in 1937 and making ends meet by cutting firewood and herding sheep. In 1942, he joined the Army and served as a truck driver in the Pacific during World War II. When his service ended, he returned to Idaho and never left.

He raised goats and chickens, tended a bountiful vegetable garden and orchard and stored what he couldn't eat or sell in a root cellar. A lifelong victim of a quarrelsome stomach, he survived largely on what he could grow or make. Homemade yogurt ranked among his proudest achievements.

He was married once, briefly, to a pen-pal bride from Mexico. The other woman in his life, Bonnie Trositt, tired of life in a cave, left him for a job as a potato sorter and was murdered by her roommate. He claimed to see her spirit in the flickering light of a kerosene lamp on the cave walls.

He rarely went to church, but read and quoted continually from the Bible.

Services are pending. A brother, Raymond Zimmerman, has requested that his remains be sent to Illinois.

Tim Woodward: 377-6409
Seamus

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04/24/2010 01:16 AM
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Re: Last of Idaho's legendary loners dies-Richard Zimmerman, 94, lived in caves and never owned a telephone or a TV. Offbeat lifestyle
No phone, No TV, no radio, no newspaper.

I'll bet he was more in tune with the TRUTH of the world than 90% of the men and women inhabiting this country today.
'When Plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men,
they create for themselves, in the course of time,
a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.'
Frederic Bastiat, 'The Law'
1850

++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
JohnSwinton, 1830-1901, Former chief-of-staff New York Times
++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"The bold effort the present bank has made to control the Government, the distress it has wantonly produced ... are but premonitions of the fate that awaits the American People should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution (The Bank of the United States), or the establishment of another like it." Andrew Jackson (December 2, 1834)
ShadowDancer

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04/24/2010 01:21 AM
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Re: Last of Idaho's legendary loners dies-Richard Zimmerman, 94, lived in caves and never owned a telephone or a TV. Offbeat lifestyle
He knew enough truth to heed it wisely and lived a fairly long life.

Few have or will ever hold onto what he maintained...while having little he was one of the wealthiest...


hf May his memory live on and empower many with the simple truths expressed well in the living.
************************************
fortitudo et spes
************************************

When Japan happened I responded: "The Excrement Has Impacted the Rotary Oscillator." and clearly it has.
Thread: The Excrement Is Striking the Rotary Oscillator
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"Ego et Dominus sumus amici"
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Ego et mea umbra
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'Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must electrically control the brain. Some day armies and generals will be controlled by electric stimulation of the brain.’
- U.S. government mind manipulator, Dr. Jose Delgado, Congressional Record, No. 262E, Vol. 118, 1974
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Realeyesrealizereal​lies. C.

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Anonymous Coward
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04/24/2010 01:22 AM
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Re: Last of Idaho's legendary loners dies-Richard Zimmerman, 94, lived in caves and never owned a telephone or a TV. Offbeat lifestyle
Anyone from GLP planning on taking up residence in Mr Zimmerman's now vacant caves?
Damn,if you tried to mind your own business and live in a cave over here,the authorities would harrass the living crap out of you.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 948360
United States
04/24/2010 01:22 AM
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Re: Last of Idaho's legendary loners dies-Richard Zimmerman, 94, lived in caves and never owned a telephone or a TV. Offbeat lifestyle
He knew enough truth to heed it wisely and lived a fairly long life.

Few have or will ever hold onto what he maintained...while having little he was one of the wealthiest...


hf May his memory live on and empower many with the simple truths expressed well in the living.
 Quoting: ShadowDancer

:5:

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