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Click on this picture to learn about The Beat Museum
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Follow us to Blair's Hotel!!
Garland Thompson Jr.
"Follow us to Blair's Hotel!!"
That's what the box in the pretty
girl's hands said as we headed
southeast towards Winder, PA, a coal mining, steel mill town located
in eastern Pennsylvania. We were on our way to Kerouac Fest '04, and
Blair Murphy's Grand Midway Hotel, purchased for a song and dance on
Ebay three years earlier. "
"Follow us to Blair's Hotel!!"
Brianne, a pretty blond waved frantically,
first at John who was
driving our black Rodeo with the Beat Museum trailer on it's hitch.
After driving several thousand miles, people honking their horns, and
waving at us as they see Neal's smiling face bigger than life, and The
Beatmobile in all it's silver bullet glory, had become something of a
regular occurrence, thus John just smiled, waved, and put his face
back to the wheel. Having no luck there, Wes, a tall, handsome, young
man with a very beat goatee who was driving the wagon put the pedal to
the metal, and gunned it towards the Beatmobile with an abandon that
said: "to hell with John Law, I'm on a mission from God!"
They'd seen us on the highway just
as we were approaching the exit for
Windber, and had gotten excited at the sight. But as they watched they
suddenly realized that we weren't taking our exit. Brianne turned to
Wes, they looked at each other, and he balled the jack in a way that
would have made Neal proud.
Brianne said to Wes, "Have
you got a plan?" He said "No." and bent to
it, his eyes scanning the road for any hidden coppers waiting to bust
a Beat kid, or anyone else who dared to transgress the speed limit.
Brianne, nervous, but behind her man all the way, took a deep breath,
and settled in for the chase.
They finally caught us about twenty miles past our exit, just as I was
about to answer Jerry's question, asking me if we had gone too far. I
was our navigator, but also being producer, and tour manager meant
that I was glued to my cell phone, like a doctor on call twenty four
seven, having to answer calls from our tour stops, as well as fielding
booking requests for our fabulous Beat circus. Not to mention the
thousands of media calls asking to interview John. So we had blown
past Blair's hotel, and were moving away from it fast.
"If you don't have a plan,
you better come up with one soon!" Brianne
said excitedly. "Make a sign!" Wes said. "With what?"
shouted, and Brianne reached for the back seat, grabbing the first
thing she could find, which happened to be the now infamous empty shoe
box. Brianne pulled out a red sharpie pen, and scribbled frantically,
with Wes saying "Wave at them! Get their attention!" As he pulled
alongside the Beatmobile. Jerry, who like John had become used to the
honking of horns, and waving of hands at us, waved back, smiling
politely, as Brianne waved the shoe box at him. He finally realized
this wasn't your average road couple, but that they actually had
something they were trying to convey to us.
"Hey Garland, check this out."
he said to me, and I looked over to the
drivers window. That's when we both saw Brianne's sign, and realized
that they were trying to get our attention. "I think they want us
follow them.", Jerry said to me. I said, "Did Blair say he was
to send someone to guide us in?" "No." he said, and opened
Brianne rolled down hers, and yelled something like, "You're going
wrong way! Follow us!" Jerry, and I looked at each other, looked
her, and said "Ok.", since at that point we really didn't know
we going anyway, and were well on our way to Pittsburgh.
We all got off at the junction of
Highway 70, and 76, pulled into a
gas station, and met up, laughing at the irony or our situation. From
there it was a short ride back to Windber, and Blair's home, the Grand
Midway Hotel, where he had the "John Casady, and Jerry Cimino Suites"
ready, and waiting for us, in true Beat fashion.
Like the coal miners, and steel
workers who once stepped off the train
at the station across the tracks that ran right in front of the place,
we had arrived. Thanks to the quick thinking of a couple of Beat fans
at the top of their game, ready to jump into the fray, their only
thought, to bring The Beatmobile home to Windber, Pennsylvania.
Garland reads the scroll with what's-his-name.
Some of Blair's handiwork.
The famous sign.
Alan Freed was born in Windber.
- Blair erected this sign
Baird, David & Garland on the
streets of Windber at Kerouac Fest '04.
Nicoletta packs the car.
John taping Kerouac Fest '04.
Baird & David - old friends
in the Beatmobile.
Winding down at Kerouac Fest '04.
Outside the Grand Midway Hotel
Larry, Moe and Curly...
Updating the Blog