|This blog's author, Rick Dale, at Jack Kerouac's grave April 13, 2022|
On April 13, 2022, Crystal and I carried out our previously mentioned plan to meet up with our great friend, Richard Marsh, and his partner, Kim (who we'd never met), in Lowell, MA -- Jack Kerouac's hometown -- to see the On The Road scroll, visit Jack's grave, and generally catch up over lunch since we haven't seen each other in person since the year before the pandemic hit.
|The Worthen in Lowell, host to many Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! activities|
|A selfie of Rick and Crystal at The Worthen|
|(L-R) Rick, Crystal, Kim, & Richard at The Worthen|
We planned to meet at The Worthen around noon and Crystal and I were early so we ordered beer and mozzarella sticks. Richard and Kim arrived early, too, and we had a nice visit over lunch (and finally got to meet Kim!). After lunch we made our way over to the Boott Cotton Mill Museum where the scroll was being displayed. We parked in the private lot next to the museum but ended up moving our vehicles to a nearby parking garage when the attendant at the scroll told us we would likely get towed. Bill Walsh, our friend and Lowell docent, was at the scroll helping visitors so we caught up with him a bit.
We weren't allowed to take pictures that showed the text of the scroll itself, but we were allowed to take pictures of the case and any of the displays. There were many displays on the wall, but museum lighting and glass covers made it tough to take pictures.
|The sign welcoming scroll visitors at the Boott Cotton Mill Museum|
|Entryway to the scroll exhibit|
|Richard and Rick standing next to the scroll case |
holding our copies of the scroll edition of On The Road
|Kim standing next to the scroll case|
|Crystal standing next to the scroll case|
|Stills from Jack's funeral; |
Richard says these are from the missing Corso film of that event
|Examples (maybe?) of Jack's traveling gear|
|Jack's backpack (maybe)|
|A collage of The Dharma Bums scroll, |
Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible, a map of the North Cascades, and Jack's backpack
I wanted to read at Jack's grave from the On The Road scroll edition a section that was displayed at the museum. I zeroed in on a passage in the scroll and tried to find it on my copy of the scroll edition and lo and behold, that section was previously highlighted in my book. Kismet. You can hear me reading that passage on YouTube HERE. In that passage in the scroll, there are words x-ed out -- I assume by Jack -- and they are not readable. It looks like this:
I woke up as the xxx sun was reddening; xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, that I didn't know who I was . . .
The whole scroll is full of such cross-outs as well as hand-written annotations, tough to read in the museum lighting and under glass. It's a would-be scholar's paradise.
I noticed for the first time the typo in the first line of the scroll, which is faithfully reproduced in the scroll edition: "I first met met Neal not long after my father died . . . ." Anyway, I assume the doubling of the word "met" is a typo. Crystal noticed it and pointed it out.
All in all, it was worth the trip to see the holy grail, so to speak, of Keroucianism. Richard had seen the scroll in Lowell once before, and he said the displays and set-up were similar. I got a little choked up at times, thinking about the importance of that document and how many people's lives it has influenced and picturing Jack toiling over its creation in 3 weeks fueled by coffee and benzedrine. If you get a chance to see the scroll, do so. It's a holy experience.
After we left the museum, we walked over to the commemorative at Jack Kerouac Park.
|(L-R) Rick, Crystal, and Kim at Jack Kerouac Park|
|Richard at the commemorative, reading from one of the obelisks|
It was nice to see that they honored the late Kerouac docent and friend of ours, Roger Brunelle, with a plaque at the park. We said goodbye to Roger HERE.
From the commemorative we drove to Edson (my middle name) Cemetery to visit Jack's grave. It had more mementos left by fans than usual, probably because of it being the 100th year since Jack's birth. I read at the grave (see link above). HERE is Richard reading a passage.
|How Jack's grave appeared on 4-13-22 after I |
left a copy of my book there (far right in plastic bag)
|Crystal, Richard, and Kim (holding the Bob Dylan whiskey)|
|Kim, Richard, Crystal, and Rick toasting Jack's memory|
We toasted to Jack with Bob Dylan's Heaven's Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey. I know it's anathema to some people for us to drink alcohol in honor of someone who died of alcoholism, but it's become a ritual and it'd done with good intentions. We thought is was fitting to use Dylan's whiskey as he was a Kerouac fan and has visited the grave himself. I left a copy of my book -- The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions -- sealed in a ziplock freezer bag with "STEAL THIS BOOK!" written on the outside (an homage to Abbie Hoffman). Hopefully, someone will. Let us know if it is you. I just hope my book is there when Jay Gaffney takes his daily photograph of Jack's grave (click HERE).
Richard and Kim were heading home after the grave visit so we said our goodbyes and then made our way to the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center to check into our room. After resting a bit, we Ubered with Linda to Cobblestones where Crystal had haddock tacos and I had crabcakes. And beer. And wine. We Ubered back to the Inn with Edward and got a night's rest. Continental breakfast in the morning (meh) and then it was on the road back home and the end of another exciting adventure to Jack Kerouac's hometown.
P.S. Please pardon my frozen, scowling face in the pictures. It's a symptom of my Parkinson's Disease, and the meds I'm on haven't affected it.