First draft of Kerouac's Beat bible, 'On the Road,' arrives in San Francisco, the very city it sanctified: "Last week, an airtight black suitcase passed through a security checkpoint at the Indianapolis International Airport on its way to San Francisco. A guard ordered the case opened and found inside a tattered and frayed scroll of yellowed paper 119 feet and 8 inches long.
'Oh I know what this is,' the baggage screener said to Jim Canary, a conservator who was accompanying the artifact. 'This is one of them religious scrolls, ain't it?'
Not a bad observation. The scroll was in fact the manuscript of one of the most famous and iconic novels of the 20th century, Jack Kerouac's stream-of-consciousness Beat generation bible, 'On the Road,' which is on exhibit for the next three months at the San Francisco Public Library."
I'll never forget reading On The Road back in about 1958. I checked the book out of the Gibbs Memorial Library in Mexia, Texas, and I felt so hip I could hardly stand myself. I thought then that I'd be another Kerouac, going down Route 66 to the promised land. Didn't happen, but I loved the book anyway.