17 October 2011

Jack Kerouac in Edson Cemetery, Lowell, Massachusetts: Literary New England #9

MAR. 12, 1922 – OCT. 21, 1969
NOV. 11, 1918 – FEB. 10, 1990'

'Ti Jean', of course, refers to the name Kerouac was given in the French-Canadian Lowell neighborhood of his youth.

A kind of finality to my earlier post about Kerouac's Lowell back in May, as it seemed crazy to have visited his birthplace and so many other places associated with Kerouac in Lowell and yet not his final resting place after 47 years.

But I thought it would be really difficult to find, as I knew there was more than one large cemetery side by side, and I also knew there was no marker, and even the directions I had seemed a little vague. However, I decided we just had to go for it on our way from the Amesbury/Salisbury/Newburyport area to the Berkshires, so I turned off onto the Lowell Connector.

We soon found Edson Cemetery, but I still had no great confidence in finding the spot made famous by that photo of Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg by Kerouac's grave. I do the driving, Penny asks someone for directions when we're lost, and this time – as so often before – she struck oil: an extremely obliging woman got in her car and led me to the exact spot, and then proceeded to tell me about going to New York City with her daughter via Amtrak and seeing the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot dead, etc, until a group of students from Syracuse, NY, on their way to Walden Pond stopped in two cars to pay their respects to Kerouac, so I had to do a fast piece of shutter action.

Just one question: why did someone put a bottle of mineral water (which was there when we found it) on Kerouac's grave? A comment on America's strict liquor laws? Or an observation that he'd have lived much longer if he'd drunk water instead, in which case we may never have heard of him: would Kerouac have been Kerouac without the booze? It's an unanswerable existential question, of course.

My other Kerouac links:
Jack Kerouac's Lowell
The Jack Kerouac Story

No comments: