Monday, January 23, 2012

The Beat Museum Finally Gets a '49 Hudson Like the Car in On the Road

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Cassady and Kerouac made literary history in a tank like this.
  • Cassady and Kerouac made literary history in a tank like this.

Cultural institutions in San Francisco continually search for new acquisitions. Alexis Coe brings you the most important, often wondrous, sometimes bizarre, and occasionally downright vexing finds each week.

The day Jerry Cimino opened the Beat Museum in North Beach, he put out a sign: The museum wanted a =1949 Hudson. Visitors came from all over the nation to visit the museum, but no one knew anyone who had the car -- the year and model used by Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac to drive across the U.S. and into Mexico -- let alone someone who was willing to sell it.

Not that Cimino could have purchased one if it had materialized. "We have no budget for anything," he noted emphatically, having just sent out an S.O.S. to his 15,000 e-mail subscribers. Rent was due, but Cimino was not sure whether he could make it.

Of course, Cassady, the original owner of the '49 Hudson, couldn't afford the car, either. Kerouac would later fictionalize his travels with Cassady in his 1957 American classic, On The Road. In the book, Kerouac wrote, "He saw a '49 Hudson for sale and rushed to the bank for his entire roll. He bought it on the spot." Cimino, however, asserts that there is no paper trail linking Cassady to the car because "Neal only owned the car for three months, and he never made a payment, so it was repossessed."

click to enlarge It takes up a lot of room -- but it's here to stay.
  • It takes up a lot of room -- but it's here to stay.

Patience is a shared virtue among the most ardent followers of the Beat generation, a group of post-World War II writers who included Kerouac, as well as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. American film director, producer, and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola bought the movie rights to On the Road in 1980, but he waited for the right director and script for nearly three decades. Coppola finally chose Brazilian director Walter Salles to adapt the portrait of the Beat generation, and Salles wasted no time contacint Cimino, utilizing the museum's archives for research. Upon their last meeting, Salles promised Cimino the '49 Hudson that will appear in the 2012 film adaptation, starring Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Garret Hedlund, and Kirsten Dunst, among others.

A year passed by without a word from Salles.

click to enlarge LR_RA_Hudson_window_words.JPG

"It was exciting," Cimino remembers, "but I couldn't talk about it. I was making plans, but I couldn't move anything around." Then, with just two days notice, Cimino received word that Hedlund, who plays Dean Moriarty in the film, would drive the car up from Los Angeles with none other than John Allen Cassady, Neal Cassady's son. They stopped along the way to pick up Al Hinkel, who readers will remember as Big Al Hinkel, and the three talked Beat all the way up.

click to enlarge One man's dust is another man's archaeological record.
  • One man's dust is another man's archaeological record.

The '49 Hudson is the Beat Museum's most recent acquisition, and certainly its biggest. The car is on permanent loan to the Beat Museum, with one caveat: It can never be washed. It collected dust on the drive from Los Angeles, caked in road debris and full of history, which is just how it will stay.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Alexis Coe

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.