The scroll’s home in Lowell, as the 50th Anniversary of “On The Road” looks for intellectual fanbase to bring Beatnik journey into a more credible literary light.
“On The Road” At Home In Lowell
By: Cody Kucker
I thought I knew Kerouac until I stumbled late into an assembly of arduously researched Kerouac buffs at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell where the university hosted a week long conference on Jack Kerouac in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his classic novel “On The Road”.
Kerouac was a native of Lowell, Massachusetts before he fathered the “Beat Generation” with his counter culture novel “On the Road” describing numerous trips across the country with his counter part Neal Kassady (Dean Moriarty) in the late 1940’s and early 50’s.
Discussions have gravitated to the controversy over the novel since it’s publication in 1957, after Kerouac completed the transcript in just three weeks in the Spring of 1952.
When asked why despite such controversy corporate America had grown to love and accept Kerouac and market the Beatniks, key note speaker Robert Koppelman responded: “They we’re not criminals besides a few instances of petty theft or rebels, but misfits, especially Kerouac, in search of a wife and a home and the same American dream that corporations we’re selling.”
After being humbled by a room full of college educators, “On the Road” hard copy’s tightly in their hand, circumspection in their faces with nice, sophisticated suit coats, I inquired with Rick Thibeault who sells Kerouac paraphernalia outside the conference room of where I could find the original scroll. When asked how he felt about Kerouac as a novelist and a local, a life long Lowell native as well, he told me, “We love Jack, We’re glad its here to enjoy it while we can. We got pride in our people around here.”
Finally I got to the Boot Cotton Mills where a Kerouac exhibit is holding the original “On the Road” scroll until October 14th. The scroll is 119.5 feet long, consisting of 10 separate 12 foot long sheets taped at the corners, one paragraph spanning the entire length and tattooed with pencil corrections throughout. The scroll is owned by, ironically enough, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Mr. James Irsay who is allowing it to tour the country before adding it to his collection. I suggest taking advantage while you can to catch a glimpse of this amazing relic. For information on exhibit hours, events, tours and history of Jack Kerouac and the scroll visit : http://www.ontheroadinlowell.org/