On the desk of Crosscut's resident historian Knute Berger sits a black-and-white photograph of a man with a kind of contemporary look. He is standing, bearded, in what looks like a tropical setting. And he’s wearing a mesh crop top.
This is Ernest Darling, and the photo, surprisingly, was taken in 1908. "He looks like someone I went to college with at the Evergreen State College in 1972," says Berger.
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Darling did go to college, at Stanford, but dropped out and became a wanderer in a loincloth, living off the land, inspiring numerous newspaper articles and even striking up a friendship with adventurer and author Jack London.
In a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, Berger tells the story of Darling and his rise to fame as an early-20th-century curiosity.
But there is more to the story. For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to discuss Darling's origins, his various sojourns and the difficulties the proto-hippie faced as he challenged the conventions of his time.
Before listening, we suggest you watch the Mossback's Northwest episode about movies made in Seattle here.