ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Some Jack Kerouac fans are trying to raise money to restore the Tampa Bay-area home where the writer once lived.
The “On the Road” author lived in the St. Petersburg home in the 1960s with his mother and his third wife. He died of gastric hemorrhaging at a St. Petersburg hospital in 1969.
“I’m glad to see you, because I’m very lonesome here,” Kerouac told a St. Petersburg Times reporter who visited him shortly before his death.
The house is still owned by Kerouac’s brother-in-law. It’s been mostly uninhabited since the 1970s, but it still contains some of Kerouac’s things. A 1969 telephone directory for Lowell, his hometown, is shelved on Kerouac’s desk in the bedroom, and an official mayoral proclamation for “Jack Kerouac Day” in Lowell hangs on one wall, near a Buddha statue and a crucifix.
Pat Barmore tells the Tampa Bay Times that Kerouac’s legacy is strong enough to merit and fund repairs to the home. Kerouac’s brother-in-law, John Sampas, who lives in Massachusetts, asked Barmore to take care of the property.
Barmore is working with other fans to start a nonprofit called Friends of Jack Kerouac. They host Kerouac-themed concerts at the Flamingo, a St. Petersburg bar where Kerouac drank and played pool.
Among the problems that need attention: a window replacement, broken furniture and some resident rats. Barmore and the other fans hope to clean up the house to make it look like it did when Kerouac lived there, and then perhaps open it for the public or for other writers.
The mailbox still contains fan mail for Kerouac.
“Dearest Jack,” reads one note. “Thank you for everything. Your work is why I write, and write to live.”
“Hey Jack, We came by to say hello,” says another. “Sorry we missed you.”