Archives for category: Summer Road Trip


“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”  MARK TWAIN


Mark Twain spent his childhood years in a cheery All-American white clapboard house. The famous fence that Tom Sawyer conned his friends into painting still stands (or at least was recreated).

He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.” From Chapter 2, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

As a child, Silver Birch enjoyed a summer road trip to Hannibal, Missouri, which calls itself “America’s Hometown.” I’m not much for advertising slogans (though I’ve written plenty of them) but this civic sobriquet seems perfect.

Photo: Missouri Division of Tourism


Our summer road trip takes a jog west, all the way to the Mississippi River, where we cross the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge (pictured above) and enter the hometown of the bridge’s namesake. We have arrived in Hannibal, Missouri, where Samuel Clemens was born on November 30, 1835. When he began his writing career, Clemens assumed the pen name Mark Twain as a nod to his years as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, where “mark twain” referred to water two fathoms deep. (For the record, a fathom equals six feet — I had to look it up. )

Photo: heresomewhere


It is possible for the human spirit to win after all.”


Photo: Joelk75


“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”

JACK KEROUAC (1922-1969)

Photo: Dan Allison (Street art in Boulder, Colorado)


In the above 1975 photo by Ken Regan, Bob Dylan (left) and Allen Ginsberg pay their respects at Jack Kerouac‘s grave in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac died in October 1969 at age 47. Since Kerouac hit that final road, his literary reputation has continued to grow — and people around the world revere his work and consider him a modern master.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh…”

From On The Road by Jack Kerouac


Jack Kerouac wrote his magnum opus, On the Road, on his beloved Underwood typewriter (shown above) — typing the book on a continuous roll of paper. In 2001, James Irsay, chairman of the Indianapolis Colts, purchased the scroll at auction for $2.4 million.

Photo: Traveling Beat Museum


Harcourt Brace published Jack Kerouac‘s first novel, The Town and The City, (written under the name John Kerouac) in 1950, when the author was just 28. After the book proved a commercial failure, Harcourt refused to publish Kerouac’s second novel — rejecting On the Road in 1951. Now considered a modern classic, On the Road didn’t find a publisher for six years, until Viking Press issued the book in 1957.

 Photo: Tom Palumbo


Our summer road trip exploring the literary landscape moves north from Martha’s Vineyard to Lowell, Massachusetts, birthplace of King of the Beats, Jack Kerouac — best known as author of the classic road-trip novel, On the Road. The above photo shows the house at 9 Lupine Road, where Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922. Kerouac’s parents hailed from Québec, and “Ti Jean” (Little John) didn’t learn to speak English until age six.

Photo: Rus Bowden (Jack Kerouac’s birthplace, Lowell, Massachusetts)


This is the island of seaside naps and lazy days in chaise lounges, of sailboats and bicycles, lighthouses and gingerbread cottages, artists and professors, carpenters and movie stars, presidential advisors, and, occasionally, presidents.”

From Moon Spotlight on Martha’s Vineyard by Jeff Perk

Photo: Mike St. Jean