THE retirees who are regulars at Glen Patrick's Pub on Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park are proud of two things. One, that Jack Kerouac used to drink there. And two, that they've never read a word of his fancy books. Or, for that matter, ''Beat Generation,'' his newly published play, which was exhumed in a star-studded reading last month, 36 years after his death.
''The beatnik thing never made it big around here,'' said Vinnie Miller, 59, a retired police sergeant drinking at the end of the bar.
''The last classic I read was in high school, 'Moby-Dick,' '' he said. ''My college was Vietnam: the University of Pleiku.''
But the old-timers, Mr. Miller and the bartender said, remember Kerouac's drinking and writing at the bar. Kerouac and his parents lived directly across the boulevard, in a second-story apartment over the corner drugstore. In letters and journals, he mentions playing the piano at the bar, drinking with his father and dashing over with an empty kettle to fetch beer. After his discharge from the Navy in 1943, Kerouac moved in with his parents, Leo and Gabrielle Kerouac. There were visits from Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg -- who teasingly named Kerouac the ''Wizard of Ozone Park.''
''It broods, it's haunted,'' Kerouac wrote of the house where he watched his father die, and wrote ''The Town and the City,'' honing his style for ''On the Road'' and other works. After he and his mother moved to Richmond Hill, Kerouac wrote in a 1949 journal entry about a dream ''in my queer house in Ozone Park,'' calling it ''that very house that sometimes rattles and is set on the edge of the world instead of Crossbay Boulevard.'' Now the place is occupied by the Lindenwood Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps. A member said it was off limits because ''you have to get special permission, you know, post-9/11.'' The drugstore downstairs is now a florist shop, and the two women working there conversed in Spanish.
''I never heard of him, but I went to school in Ecuador,'' said one, Adriana Loga, 24, who then dialed her boss and handed over the phone. ''You're wasting your time,'' the boss said. ''No one there even understands what you're talking about.''
Ms. Loga walked down the block, past the law firm of Brancato, Brancato & Brancato, and into the Bay Deli, where the owner, an Egyptian immigrant, was watching soccer from Africa. She bought a lottery ticket and went back to work under Kerouac's queer old house.
Photos: Jack Kerouac, left, drank here, at Glen Patrick's Pub in Ozone Park, Queens, across the street from where he lived with his parents. John Riepe and Vinnie Miller, right, are current regulars. (Photos by left, the Allen Ginsberg Trust, via Associated Press; above, Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)
Kilgannon, Corey. "On the Road, the One Called Cross Bay Boulevard." New York Times 10 Nov. 2005: B2(L). General OneFile. Web. 20 Nov. 2009.
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