Monday, March 12, 2012

Remembering a Literary Legend in Lowell

Jack Kerouac, the writer & voice of the beat generation, would have been 90 years old today. In commemoration of his birthday I visited Lowell, Massachusetts, his hometown.

Yesterday, a walking tour, sponsored by Lowell Celebrates Kerouachonored both the man & the city that meant so much to him.

Walking was an appropriate way to discover Kerouac's Lowell, because surprisingly, the writer of  On the Road
never actually owned a drivers license, but was in fact an avid walker.

Little about the old mill town of Lowell has changed since Kerouac's time.

The city's multi ethnic neighborhoods represent a true slice of America's melting pot of the world.

The French Canadian grammar school, where Kerouac attended classes in French, still stands, not far from the Polish National Catholic Church, where mass was conducted in Polish rather than Latin.

We covered a lot of ground on our walk. We saw the houses he lived in, the house where his brother, Gerard, died, the library where he skipped school to read. We crossed the Merrimack River & walked across the old Moody Street Bridge, that he so often wrote about.

Ending our tour in Kerouac Park just in front of some of the beautiful old, early 19th century mill buildings.

The park is a peaceful place, where you can read the words of Jack Kerouac, engraved on granite pillars.

“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”  
Jack Kerouac


  1. Thank you for this walk. Interesting and varied! Do you prefer I write my comments in English or French? I saw that you spoke French well on your last comment on my blog ;)

  2. I read this a little while ago and it has been on my mind ever since...Kerouac's writing was a real gem for me growing up.
    I had no idea they had guided tours in Lowell....I'm going to have to check that out! Thanks Sally :)

  3. Sally, What a great idea to take a tour. The town has some really interesting buildings. I use a Jack Kerouac quote when I teach commas, and just yesterday as a student was writing it on the board, he asked if it was a typo. It said, "We're a beat generation." He asked what it should be instead.

  4. how inspiring... Thank you for the tour Sally !

  5. Love this, Sally. Thank you. The lure of getting away and "on the road" and coming of age in the 50's - 60's always holds romance for me.