‘On the Trail: Jack Kerouac in Nebraska’ in development

Jack Kerouac began his trek across Nebraska at the Omaha bus station.
Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is a classic American literature work that was first published in 1955. Kerouac writes about his experiences driving cross country, including through Nebraska starting in Omaha towards points west on his way to Denver via Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“On the Trail: Jack Kerouac in Nebraska” is the second in a series that recounts Kerouac’s travels through the eyes of his alter ego Sal Paradise across Nebraska on his way to Denver via Cheyenne, Wyoming and Longmont, Colorado.

The non-commercial, not for profit documentary is projected to be 60 minutes that is planned to be aired on public and community television; digitally as Video On Demand for web-streaming; hard copy DVDs are planned to be available to schools, museums, libraries.

Kerouac in the back of a truck made a stop in Grand Island. The project kicks off in early October at nearby Hastings College.
The project is planned to also have an off-line component with live screenings and talk-back sessions with the filmmaker, Alan O’Hashi, John Allen Cassady, son of Neal Cassady who is the voice of the character Sal Paradise. John Cassady is a musician and he’ll have his guitar along for some entertainment, too. An invitation is out to David Amram, another beat poet and musician.

“On the Trail: Jack Kerouac in Nebraska” documents a coming of age theme, particularly about a short period of time spent in Nebraska . 

This project melds American literature, still and moving historic (circa 1947) and contemporary images with interviews and literary dialogue voiced by John Allen Cassady, son of Neal Cassady, who reads the part of Sal Paradise. The project juxtaposes the historic images with 2017 video and photos of the places where Sal Paradise stopped in Nebraska enroute to Denver. 

While it is not possible to determine exactly where the vagabonds stopped, the best researched possibilities will be included in the film to give some insight about the life and times in post-World War II Nebraska.

The next stop was Shelton during a carnival.
“I made the acquaintance of another hitchhiker, a typical New Yorker, an Irishman who’d been driving a truck for the post office most of his work years and was now headed for a girl in Denver and a new life. I think he was running away from something in New York, the law mos likely. He was a real red nose young drunk of thirty and would have bored the me ordinarily, except that my senses were sharp for any kind of human friendship. He wore a beat sweater and baggy pants and nothing with him in the way of a bag – just a toothbrush and handkerchiefs. He said we ought to hitch together. I should have said no, because he looked pretty awful on the road. But we stuck together an got a ride with a taciturn man to Stuart, Iowa.When the Omaha bus came through just before dawn, we hopped on it and joined the sleeping passengers. I paid for his fare as well as mine. His name was Eddie. He reminded me of my cousin-in-law from the Bronx. That’s was why I stuck with him. It was like having an old friend along, a smiling good-natured sort to goof around with.”

The next stop was Gothenburg.
That’s how Kerouac described the beginning his road trip to Nebraska in July 1947, nearly a decade before “On the Road” was published. He traveled by bus and hitchhiking, probably on the Lincoln Highway to Cheyenne.

 “On the Trail: Jack Kerouac in Cheyenne” was the first episode of the “Digital Scroll Project” completed in 2009 by Alan O’Hashi and Boulder Community Media (dba Wyoming Community Media). The original “On the Road” manuscript was typed on a scroll consisting of many sheets of paper taped together so Kerouac could continue typing without having to crank paper into his typewriter – an analog computer screen.

Before hitting Cheyenne the truck stopped in Ogallala.
After arriving in Council Bluffs, IA, he and his new friend, Eddie, travel through Omaha, Grand Island, Shelton, Gothenburg, North Platte, Ogalala to Cheyenne before hitchhiking to Denver where Kerouac (Sal Paradise) meets up with some of his rowdy, free-living friends waiting out the post-World War II slump in the Mile High City. His pals include a Columbia classmate named Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty). A third documentary in the series is planning to be “On the Trail: Jack Kerouac in Central City”.

A grant application was submitted to Humanities Bebraska. BCM recently completed a documentary project. Stay tubed gor crowd funding links for the project.

Support the humanities in Nebraska
The project is a docu-drama, educational and non-commercial. The finished work is produced in compliance with Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of “Best Practices in Fair Use” as adopted by the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, Independent Feature Project, International Documentary Association, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, Women in Film and Video, Washington, D.C. Chapter.


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