After 1200 miles of driving, one harsh and heavy rainstorm, and a bad breakfast in Macon, Georgia, I have made it to the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando.
I’m staying in Kerouac’s house in the College Park area. I was awarded this opportunity about nine months ago and will be able to stay here and work, write, and look for Jack’s ghost through mid-August. I am thrilled to be here.
Incredible story about this house. This is where he lived with his mother when he wrote The Dharma Bums. It was here that he lived when he became an overnight sensation after a tremendous review of On the Road in the NY Times. The house was discovered by a local TV news reporter in Orlando, and when he found it, the place was in shambles. Literally – squirrels ran in and out of it. Long story short – a foundation was formed, and after a long haul and a lot of trip-ups, the place was cleaned out, renovated, and offered to writers by award to stay here and write.
It’s a marvelous Florida bungalow. Very small, but cozy, sitting in the leafy neighborhood of College Park with its neat little bars and coffee shops and Infusion Tea – a popular spot for local writers. It’s quite a bohemian neighborhood. Kind of fits, huh? Although it wasn’t like that when Kerouac came to town.
There was a neighbor who lived across the street when Kerouac lived here. She’s gone now. But before she died, she spoke of hearing the furious typewriter keys coming from the Kerouac house late into the evening and through the night, Jack’s favorite time to write. Shortly after On the Road was published, Jack gave her a first edition copy and signed it…
To Mrs. McCray
my good neighbor
The book was given to the woman who once lived in Kerouac’s house just before Mrs. McCray died. She kept the book in a sealed plastic bag, hoping to save it from the humidity and bugs.
Tonight, I sit on the front porch of this place and look at the Florida stars, longing for a sign from Jack. I may have already received it. I hope to complete a manuscript while I’m here and take in the vibe that must still exist throughout these rooms, must still hang in its wall