Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallow's Eve - RIP Jack Kerouac (Died Oct 21,1969)

After my last post's events in Worcester on Dead Poets Remembrance Day I intended to go on to Author's Ridge in Concord (grave of Louisa May Alcott among others), and then come straight home.  But the thought of it being the weekend of "Lowell Celebrates Kerouac" drew me back to that city on the Merrimac; I found a motel room in Westford, some ten miles south of Lowell.  A sweet "associate" at a Hampton Inn gave me a small toothbrush, a razor, and sample sizes of toothpaste and shaving cream.

Jack Kerouac's photo upon enlistment in US Navy.  He lasted about 80 days, being discharged "by reason of Unsuitability for the Naval Service".  

On Saturday morning I drove into Lowell, parked at Lowell National Park, and walked to the Kerouac Memorial.

Lots of people were there.  Blue skies and warm sun.

Steve Dalachinsky, described as a New York "downtown" poet, read some of  his own poems.  I'd not heard of him.  He was excellent.
This is David Amram; he plays music every year at the festival.  I think it was an oboe he used but I wasn't sure.  I asked if I could take his picture but would have felt foolish to ask what kind of instrument he'd used.

We then got on a city bus, chartered, that took us to various Kerouac sites in town.  Above is the house he was born in on March 12, 1922.
A plaque adorns the house's front.

Falls on the Merrimac River.  From Dr. Sax:  "The thunderous husher of our sleep at night ... I could hear it rise from the rocks in a groaning wush ululating with the water, sprawish, sprawish, oom, oom, zoooo, all night long the river says zooo, zooo, the stars are fixed in rooftops like ink.  Merrimac, dark name ... Merrimac comes swooping from a north of eternities, falls pissing over locks, cracks and froths on rocks, bloth, and rolls frawing to the kale, calmed in dewpile stone holes slaty sharp ... by moonlight I see the mighty Merrimac foaming in a thousand white horses upon the tragic plains below."
I guess this is thanking Mme. Archambault, who probably was of the family which owned the Archambault Funeral Home across Pawtucket Street,  for a skating rink for the orphans (housed nearby at the time).

This is an outdoors Stations of the Cross which leads to a crucifix above a grotto (both pictured below).  There's a wonderful passage somewhere in Kerouac about a time he came here as a boy with his mother at night; it was ghostly and frightening, especially as a prominent funeral home was just across the street.
Close-up of one of the stations.
After the Stations of the Cross you could, if truly penitent,  ascend to the Crucifix on your knees, pausing on each of some twenty shallow steps to recite three prayers: The Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.   Catholics in the old days did not have football-damaged knees, but kneeling-damaged knees.  
Descending then from the crucifix down the left side you entered the grotto and prayed to The Blessed Virgin Mary. There were votive candles.  One could, for a price, light a candle as a signal of prayer.  In November of 1975 the famous Bob Dylan-led Rolling Thunder Revue performed in Lowell; many in the group, including Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, visited this grotto as well as Kerouac's grave and Memorial.
The Archimbault Funeral Home, which is situated across the street from the foot of the Stations of the Cross.  Jack Kerouac, dead from an alcohol-drenched liver at the age of forty-seven, was waked here in October of 1969.

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