The Hills and Waterfronts of San Francisco

The inspiration for posting this photo is chapter 16 in Jack Kerouac’s ‘Big Sur’ in which he describes ‘being driven 100 miles an hour around the sleeping hills and waterfronts of San Francisco’ by a guy who he hardly knows, but wants to prove to him that he can drive faster and better than Neal Cassady (Cody Pomeroy in the book) and Lew Welch (Dave Wain in the book) who Kerouac calls the best two drivers in the world. The photo was taken in October 2010 on Union Street, near Russell Street, where Neal & Carolyn Cassady lived in from 1949 to Summer 1952 and in which Kerouac was a visitor on a few occasions and stayed for 6 months in 1952 and worked on some of his books.

Thanks to Dave Moore at The Kerouac Companion and Bill Morgan, helping me fill in the facts through their works.

5 Responses to “The Hills and Waterfronts of San Francisco”
  1. Pitoucat says:

    The guy was an ex-getaway car driver named Bob Miller. Kerouac gave him the name ‘Bruce’ in Big Sur.

    • Dick Gottlieb says:

      I was a friend of Bob’s, hung out/played pool in the late 60’s
      He was living with Jeanne Bainum and her two kids. He had spent
      time in San Q

      Funny, smart, terrific pool player. But you never wanted to cross
      him, especially if he had been drinking. Which he was doing with
      some frequency. Became very scary.

      At this point he was painting houses.

      Jeanne broke it off, married and moved to the midwest I think. I left
      town. But always stop at g&c when I’m in town. Heard he died in ’90s.

      Can you fill in any blanks?



  2. It almost feels as if you’re going a million miles an hour in this picture. The viewpoint from the hill is filled with the anticipation of a free fall. The wires criss-crossing impart frenetic communication and energy. …And yet, the one lone sailboat gently gliding along suggests the hope of tranquility.

  3. Dennis Cardwell says:

    Great photo! For those unfamiliar with San Francisco, the small island in the Bay is Alcatraz, formerly a maximum security prison which housed Al Capone and many others.

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