What leather jacket did Jack Kerouac wear?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by robrinay, Oct 18, 2021.

  1. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    A friend asked me if Kerouac wore a sealskin jacket in ‘On The Road’. I told him I hadn’t read the book but the seal probably referred to the colour of his ‘bomber jacket’ rather than the source of the leather. I speculated that as there was plenty of military surplus about it might have been an A2 or a ‘G1’ (he knows those styles so I didn’t want to confuse him by mentioning M422a) or possibly a commercial leather jacket. I’ve read on here that in the ‘80’s Banana Republic made an ‘on the road’ jacket which was a generic sort of zip up A1 style with handwarmer pockets. Does anyone know what he really wore?
     
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  2. hodgeko

    hodgeko New in Town

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  3. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    Thanks for the link to the advert - it’s one of two I came across when searching the net. The other was a 3 pocket front which to me looked like a fantasy. What do you think?
    https://concierge.typepad.com/cntraveler__materialist/2007/09/weve-got-the-be.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2021
  4. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Can't imagine either of these is "correct"... The jacket here looks very much like the sort of stuff Joe Brown's sell in the UK. I'd imagine a fashion editor would call it 'retro'; it has the look of a style I would associate with the late 80s / early 90s, albeit in a more modern fit (i.e. not cut to look a good couple of sizes too big when worn in the "correct" size). The feeling I have from the advertising copy is that it's intended as someone's vision of what a 'modern day Kerouac' would be wearing now, as opposed to what he wore back then.

    Forgive me if I'm off beam here, it's a long time since I last read the book, but my recollection is that the protagonists in On the Road were the 'workwear' variety of beatnik (not the black poloneck and beret kind). To my mind, it would have been in keeping had they opted for genuine military surplus; a much more 'outsider' vibe in those times - at least here in the UK - associated with manual labourers and those who couldn't afford "normal" civilian clothing. (I well remember mystifying my own dad back in the mid-late eighties when I got into the army surplus thing as a pure fashion choice.) If the jacket was civilian, it would probably have been consciously purchased second hand, and be a good decade old. Something fairly simple, not too flash. I don't get the impression it was something that would have been regarded as a motorcycle jacket. That's my take on it, anyhow...

    Interesting question, it would be fascinating to know the answer.
     
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  5. Frank Castle

    Frank Castle New in Town

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    Ken would know. Might be an Aero.
     
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  6. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    LOL
     
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  7. Bfd70

    Bfd70 Call Me a Cab

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    What was your friends basis? I’ve never seen a picture of him in a leather jacket.
     
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  8. Bahabp100

    Bahabp100 Practically Family

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    I recall that he, Kerouac, wore an “Eisenhower” jacket also called an IKE (another infamous wearer of the IKE was Lee Harvey Oswald.) It’s kind of like a 50s windbreaker. He also was a railroad brakeman with Neil Cassady near San Francisco, so there might be something like that in the wardrobe. Workware it was!
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  9. oneterrifichog

    oneterrifichog Practically Family

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    I can't imagine Kerouac wearing anything of great value. I don't think that's where their heads were at. I am thinking the "beat" generation just didn't give a damn how they looked, at least it seemed that way when I read some of his work.
     
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  10. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    Apparently there’s a line somewhere in the book referring to a ‘sealskin jacket’. I’m listening to the audio book trying to find the reference. I’ve never read it and I’m really enjoying it. The only jacket mentioned so far was a ‘wool shirt’ on which he laid his face when sleeping in the long grass next to a gas station. I believe he’s referring to the lumberjack style tartan plaid shirt/mackinaw that’s on display in the San Francisco Beat Museum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2021
  11. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    I’ve bought the book and it’s arriving today. I’ll scan through it before reading it properly and so should be able to find the ‘sealskin’ quote and post it here for reference.
     
  12. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    With this thread popping up again, a hazy memory has resurfaced that there was a 2012 film version, Kirsten Stewart was, I think, the name turn in it fresh off the back of her Twilight success. A quick web-search shows some good-looking period workwear (Keroac's On the Road characters were very much the lumberjack-cosplay end of the hipster scale rather than the stereotypical beret and black poloneck beatniks), though if there's a leather in the film it seems to have no real online visibility. Not seen the film myself. If there is a leather in it, however, there's a fair chance that it's an Aero or one of the other brands favoured round here.
     
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  13. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    I found a picture on Flickr of Kerouac wearing "his London outfit" a black leather jacket and a phony gold braid hat. the photo shows him head and shoulders wearing a cross zip leather jacket zipped up fully. So now we know he wore at least one leather jacket but black not seal. You'll find it easily withe the search 'Jack Kerouac in Merchant Marine Cap" I haven't posted it as I also spotted that the original print had been sold at auction and didn't want to risk copyright issues.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2021
  14. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    I’ve given up - I downloaded a pdf of ‘on the road’ in order to do a word search for seal and seal skin and sealskin and drew blanks. A search for jacket and jackets had lots of hits but none useful. I’ll have a word with him next time I see him and check out in which Kerouac novel he read ‘seal skin jacket’
     
  15. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Hunting the web, I find a lot of pictures of sealskin jackets which are made from actual seal (rather than 'leather' as we know it):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I don't recall that part of the novel well enough to know if the scene in questions took place in a cold weather area / time of year, but it could be a period, men's style in this.... A bit like how some of the College kids used to wear full length furs and straw boaters at football games.
     
  16. TiltRotorFlyer

    TiltRotorFlyer One of the Regulars

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    Looks like Jack and Neal are wearing a B-10 or some similar model? casskerouac1.jpg
     
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  17. TiltRotorFlyer

    TiltRotorFlyer One of the Regulars

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    ATA080118cassady_img02-1.jpg ATA080118cassady_img03-1.jpg
     
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  18. hodgeko

    hodgeko New in Town

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    Dang, why am I so susceptible to old photos? These are really making me want to get a B-10 now! :)
     

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