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Photo of DeVon Smith

DeVon Smith

(1926–2003)

DeVon Smith was born in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, in 1926. As a youngster, he frequently skipped school to hitchhike to the next town over and watch movies all day. Sci-Fi and horror movies were his favorites. Smith quit high school and briefly worked casting tank turrets at Union Steel Casting in Pittsburgh. Drafted in 1944, Smith landed in England with the 84th Infantry, eventually earning three battle stars. After the war, he worked for a while at a hotel owned by relatives, but wanderlust got the best of him and he soon hit the road. In 1972, After the war, Smith became a world famous hitchhiker, setting the Guinness World Records for Longest Total Distance Hitched (1973-85): 290,980 miles, and for hitching across the 48 contiguous United States in 33 days in 1957. When his wandering days were over, Smith settled in Wampum, PA, just minutes away from where he grew up. He made a living trading and selling junk until he died in 2003. He shared his trailer with his inventory of scavenged items and his 100% recycled World's First Family of Robots, including Father Jupiter, Wife Venus, Sis-tar, her brother Sun, and Robo-dog Pluto. A younger robot couple, Saturn and Mars, were married at AVAM in June 2000. DeVon's advice to everyone was, "Don't sit in a chair. Get out and do it."

DeVon Smith, Detail: World's First Family Of Robots, n.d., Recycled metal, found objects, Gift of Alice Kumar, Photo by Dan Meyers. Left to Right: Mother Venus, Mars, Sis-Star, Saturn, Sun, & Father Jupiter.