Monday, March 2, 2009

Jack Kerouac, Lowell, MA

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell and there are many locations in the city that speak of his presence.  On this trip I visited Kerouac's first home, his birthplace, at 9 Lupine Road.  He was born there on March 12, 1922, right in the house, on the second floor of the duplex.  In Doctor Sax Kerouac wrote, ""It was in Centraville I was born, in Pawtucketville saw Doctor Sax."  Kerouac claimed a stellar memory and actually recalled details of the day he was born on Lupine Road.  

The next stop on the Lowell tour was the public library.  The following is excerpted from the web site, a guide to Kerouac's Lowell: 

"The Lowell Public Library is a fine place to begin a walking tour of Jack Kerouac's Lowell. Today it's called the Pollard Memorial Library, after Samuel S. Pollard, a prominent Lowell politician, but the library looks the same as it did when Jack Kerouac scoured the shelves in the 1920's and 30's.

In Maggie Cassidy and Vanity of Duluoz, Kerouac writes of skipping school "at least once a week" to read Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, William Penn, and scholarly books on chess. "It was how I'd become interested in old classical looking library books," he writes in Maggie Cassidy, "some of them falling apart and from the darkest shelf in the Lowell Public Library, found there by me in my overshoes at closing time."

Halfway between "downtown" and Centralville, there is a Jack Kerouac park that highlights his written work.  On giant granite (I think that's the material) rocks, excerpts from Kerouac's books are engraved and displayed in the middle of this little escape.  Visitors can sit on benches and read parts of On The Road, Lonesome Traveller, Book of Dreams, Mexico City Blues, Doctor Sax and others.  

Just outside of the downtown area, a short drive away, is the graveyard where Kerouac and his wife are buried.  Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan visited Jack Kerouac's grave.
That video is available at the link above.  It's also on the DVD, "The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg."  It was exciting to visit Kerouac and to literally follow in the footsteps of these great artists.  

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