|Stella and Jack Kerouac|
Stella Sampas Kerouac, Jack's third wife, with whom he was living when he died in Florida in 1969, was born this date -- November 11 -- in 1918. She appeared once in Kerouac's works under pseudonym: as Stavroula Savakis in Vanity of Duluoz.
That particular book, dedicated to Stavroula, starts out:
All right, wifey, maybe I'm a big pain in the you-know-what but after I've given you a recitation of the troubles I had to go through to make good in America between 1935 and more or less now, 1967, and although I also know everybody in the world's had his own troubles, you'll understand that my particular form of anguish came from being too sensitive to all the lunkheads I had to deal with just so I could get to be a high school football star, a college student pouring coffee and washing dishes and scrimmaging till dark and reading Homer's Iliad in three days all at the same time, and God help me, a WRITER whose very 'success', far from being a happy triumph as of old, was the sign of doom Himself. (Penguin Books, 1994, p. 9)
True Kerouacians know that Stella was the sister of Sebastian Sampas, Jack's close friend of youth and a significant influence on his intellectual and emotional development. Stella was instrumental in providing care to Jack's mother, who lived with them, and some have suggested that was the main reason he married her. Since it's Stella's birthday, we won't get into the Kerouac estate controversy that swirled around her and her family.
Suffice to say that she played a critically important role in the Kerouac story, and we wish her a Happy Birthday in Heaven.