Podcast Episode 318: Peace Pilgrim

peace pilgrim

In 1953 Mildred Norman renounced “an empty life of money and things” and dedicated herself to promoting peace. She spent the next three decades walking through the United States to spread a message of simplicity and harmony. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll describe her unusual life as a peace pilgrim.

We’ll also admire Wellington’s Mittens and puzzle over a barren Christmas.


In 1956, Navy pilot Tom Attridge overtook his own rounds in a supersonic jet.

Flemish artist Cornelius Gijsbrechts painted a rendering of the back of a painting.

Sources for our feature on Peace Pilgrim:

Peace Pilgrim, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, 1992.

Peace Pilgrim, Steps Toward Inner Peace, 1964.

Kathlyn Gay, American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience, 2012.

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, 2001.

Peace Pilgrim’s website.

Michael M. Piechowski, “Giftedness for All Seasons: Inner Peace in a Time of War,” Henry B. and Jocelyn Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development, University of Iowa, 1991.

Michael M. Piechowski, “Is Inner Transformation a Creative Process?”, Creativity Research Journal 6:1-2 (1993), 89-98.

Michael M. Piechowski, “Peace Pilgrim, Exemplar of Level V,” Roeper Review 31:2 (2009), 103-112.

Amanda Kautz, “Peace Pilgrim: An American Parallel to a Buddhist Path,” Buddhist-Christian Studies 10 (1990), 165-172.

Roy Tamashiro, “Planetary Consciousness, Witnessing the Inhuman, and Transformative Learning: Insights From Peace Pilgrimage Oral Histories and Autoethnographies,” Religions 9:5 (2018), 148.

“Introducing Peace Pilgrim,” Equality 15 (May 1969), 3.

“Peace Pilgrim’s Progress,” Equality 1 (May 1965), 3.

Ann Rush with John Rush, “Peace Pilgrim: An Extraordinary Life,” 1992.

Peace Pilgrim, “On Foot and on Faith,” The Sun Magazine, February 2020.

Katharine Q. Seelye, “Overlooked No More: Emma Gatewood, First Woman to Conquer the Appalachian Trail Alone,” New York Times, June 27, 2018.

Steve Taylor, “Peace Pilgrim: A Way to Wakefulness,” Psychology Today, June 8, 2016.

Paul Venesz, “7th Peace Pilgrim Celebration,” [Vineland, N.J.] Daily Journal, Sept. 24, 2014, 9.

“Peace Pilgrim Nominated to Hall of Fame,” [Vineland, N.J.] Daily Journal, May 28, 2014, 1.

“Peace Pilgrim Is Eyed for Hall,” [Vineland, N.J.] Daily Journal, Oct. 23, 2013, 1.

Braden Campbell, “Author of New Book on Peace Pilgrim to Take Part in Egg Harbor City Celebration,” Press of Atlantic City, Sept. 11, 2013.

Kate Murphy, “Walking the Country as a Spiritual Quest,” New York Times, March 2, 2013.

Zak Rosen, “Peace Pilgrim’s 28-Year Walk for ‘A Meaningful Way of Life,'” All Things Considered, National Public Radio, Jan. 1, 2013.

Jason Nark, “Peace Pilgrim’s Message Carried On,” Philadelphia Daily News, July 19, 2008, 7.

Sandra Malasky, “Peace Pilgrim Walked the Walk,” Peterborough [Ont.] Examiner, July 2, 2005, B4.

Bernard Bauer, “A 25-Year Hike,” Berkeley [Calif.] Barb 28:2 (Oct. 26-Nov. 8, 1978), 3.

Chet Briggs, “Peace Pilgrim Comes to Town,” [Austin, Texas] Rag 1:15 (Feb. 20, 1967), 7.

“Peace Pilgrim,” Ottawa County [Ohio] News, Sept. 25, 1953, 2.

“Heard in Lawrence,” Lawrence [Kan.] Journal-World, June 29, 1953.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, “Mittens (cat)” (accessed Oct. 10, 2020).

Eleanor Ainge Roy, “‘The Best Thing About Wellington’: Mittens the Cat Has Paws All Over New Zealand Capital,” Guardian, March 3, 2020.

“The Wondrous Adventures of Mittens,” Facebook.

“Celebrity Cat Mittens ‘His Floofiness’ Awarded Key to the City by Wellington’s Mayor,” 1 News, May 22, 2020.

“Feline Groovy: Mittens Unlocks More Hearts With Key to the City,” Wellington City Council, May 22, 2020.

Katarina Williams, “Wellington Feline Celebrity Mittens Awarded Key to the City,” stuff, May 22, 2020.

Eleanor Ainge Roy, “Celebrity Cat Called Mittens in the Running to Be New Zealander of the Year,” Guardian, Aug 19, 2020.

“Jock VII Takes the Helm,” International Churchill Society (accessed Oct. 10, 2020).

“Jock VII of Chartwell,” National Trust (accessed Oct. 10, 2020).

Laura Silverman, “Meet the Long Line of Ginger Cats Who’ve Taken Up Residence in Winston Churchill’s Home,” Telegraph, July 20, 2020.

“A Perpetual Pussycat,” Futility Closet, Oct. 21, 2013.

Peter Black, “RIP Doorkins Magnificat,” Blogspot, Oct. 5, 2020

“The Story of Doorkins Magnificat,” Southwark Cathedral, accessed Oct. 10, 2020.

This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon. Here are two corroborating links (warning — these spoil the puzzle).

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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!