If I told you I was going to write about the most famous writer from Jamestown, North Dakota that probably wouldn’t be a good clue for most people. If I told you that at one time he was one of the most popular writers in the world and is mostly known for his westerns you might guess Louis L’Amour. Even though L’Amour left school at the age of 15, by the time of his death in 1988 he had over 100 of his works in print. According to Wikipedia he’s sold over 225 million books. And according to IMDB 38 of his short stories and novels found their way to TV or the movie screen.
Not a bad career for a high school drop out from North Dakota. But he was far from uneducated having by is own account read hundreds of books as he wandered the earth in search of adventure and work. And then there’s the education he got from traveling. In fact, when the class he was supposed to graduate with back in Jamestown was having their graduation he was in Singapore.
He wrote in his memoir Education of a Wandering Man;
“Before that day in Singapore I had skinned dead cattle in Texas, baled hay in New Mexico, worked as a roustabout with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, and in between times had boxed a couple of exhibitions in small towns and won a few fights. I had hoboed across Texas on the Southern Pacific and shipped out to the West Indies as a seaman and, later, on another ship, to Liverpool and Manchester, England. Returning, I had planted fruit trees near Phoenix, worked as a caretaker of a mine in the Bradshaws, and spent three very rough months ‘on the beach’ in San Pedro.”
He lived a lifetime in three years. And though I haven’t read anything about his going back to school to get a high school diploma, he was awarded an Honorary PhD by Jamestown College in 1972.