Monday, October 21, 2013

Jack Kerouac, resting from his labors

Jack Kerouac's grave, Edson Cemetery, Lowell, MA (photo taken October 11, 2013)
(c) 2013 Rick Dale
Coiner of the phrase "Beat Generation," author Jack Kerouac died at age 47 on this date in St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, in 1969 (44 years ago), of internal hemorrhaging. The coroner’s report said that Jack died from "gastrointestinal hemorrhage, due to bleeding gastric varix [probably meant "varices"] from cirrhosis of liver, due to excessive ethanol intake over many years." Yes, one could say he drank himself to death. Some speculate that Jack's death was complicated by an untreated hernia and a beating he took several weeks earlier in a local tavern, The Cactus Bar. I have speculated about this in the past here on The Daily Beat (click here). Were he still alive, Jack Kerouac would be 91 years old.

There was a poorly attended wake for Jack in St. Petersburg, but a second was held at the Archambault Funeral Home in his hometown of Lowell, MA. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Peter Orlovsky attended along with a number of other friends and family members. The funeral took place at St. Jean Baptiste Church, where, according to Kerouac biographer Tom Clark, Father Armand “Spike” Morrisette read from the Holy Bible's Book of Revelation: “They shall rest from their labors for they shall take their works with them.”

Pall-bearers included Joe Chaput, Tony Sampas, Billy Koumantzelis, Harvey Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg. Having died the husband of Stella Sampas, Jack was buried in the Sampas family plot in the Edson Cemetery in Lowell. Jack spoke of his burial in Visions of Gerard when  he mentioned “that crew of bulls – The particular bleak gray jowled pale eyed sneaky fearful French Canadian quality of man . . . . Lay me down in sweet India or old Tahiti, I don’t want to be buried in their cemetery . . . ” (as cited in Tom Clark in Jack Kerouac: A Biography, 1984, Thunder's Mouth Press, pp. 217-220).

Who will be talking about you and me on the 44th anniversary of our deaths?

For your convenience, here are links to all my annual posts about this auspicious date:

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