Horace Mann School/ Van Cortlandt Park

Approach to Horace Mann School

Sports field at Horace Mann School

Tillinghast Hall at Horace Mann School

242St /Van Cortlandt Park Subway station

Van Cortlandt Park

Van Cortlandt Park

Van Cortlandt Park

Jack Kerouac went to Horace Mann School in The Bronx from 1939-1940. While there he was living with relatives in Brooklyn which meant a long Subway journey all the way to 242 St and back. During that time he became heavily interested in Jazz and met people such as Jazz buff Seymour Wise from London and also Henri Cru who went on to become a long-time friend and played a role in a number of Kerouac’s books, most prominently in ‘On The Road’ (as Remi Boncoeur). Kerouac also wrote about Jazz in school newspaper ‘The Horace Mann Record’ and excelled in the school’s Football team (see ‘Maggie Cassidy’).

6 Responses to “Horace Mann School/ Van Cortlandt Park”
  1. Love, love, love the photo of the paint-weary subway stop

  2. Kerouac fan says:

    Yes it’s a bit of a dichotomy (does that mean contradiction?) that Jack Kerouac went to a posh school yet to my way of thinking rejected middle class values and embraced the working class. Digging bums, working men and Negros. A bit like George Orwell really. As a working class man myself I feel honored. Jack was clearly uncomfortable in posh surroundings, ie the Ball he goes to in a suit when invited by one of his wealthier friends in (I think) On the Road. A mate of mine says Jack was middle class having a businessman printer for a father, though I understand Jack’s dad struggled in his business, and was an habituate of local social clubs (?). How did his father get the money together to send him to Horace Mann? In Why Kerouac Matters? John Leland argues that Kerouac was middle class and had bourgeois ambitions. Did Jack’s alcoholism drag him down into the working class? Or is there no such thing as class? Did he reject middle class values for working class values? discuss.
    P.S. I encountered a teacher from Horace Mann once who looked at me like I was something she’d just scraped off of her shoe.
    P.P.S. Wonderful web-page & photos. Beautiful school – I can imagine Jack running round there. Somehow those photos really take you there. Al of “Beat_Happening” site.

    • JHaeske says:

      Thank you, Al. As far as I’m aware the Kerouac family didn’t need much mony to send Jack to Horace Mann, apart from the travel money etc., although I can’t say in detail how that worked. And yes, Jack’s dad was struggling for the most part and wasn’t always running his own business, he took paid jobs for other printers quiet a few times, e.g. when the family moved to New York. I can’t really say if the family was middle or working class, his mum was working in shoe factories for a very long time, so def. working class. Although the term ‘working’ in respect to him sounds quite strange, as he never held down a job for more than a few weeks – I know he considered writing his work and he def. did a lot of that. But still, not a very working class thing to do, and always a point which somehow bugs me and goes against my working class attitude.
      And Leo Kerouac did even manage a Social club for while – see my post ‘Pawtucketville Social Club’.
      I had a weird encounter when taking photos of the school: The security guy was driving past me, then stopped took numerous photos with his mobile phone, so far so good, but when I approched him and offered to explain to him why I was taking these photos he didn’t respond at all and just proceeded to snap away – very rude. J

    • Bill Ioris says:

      He was on football scholarship at Horace Mann. He was politically conservative and didn’t buy into Marxist class consciousness at all. Some of his friends wish he had written more about his Lowell roots. My opinion based on reading, especially the Nicosia bio.

  3. The Kerouac family managed to send Jack because he went to Horace Mann for practically nothing. Horace Mann desperately needed to upgrade its chronically-losing football team and so went on a mad tear recruiting able-bodied athletes around the country. This is only a mere year or so before there was a huge scandal over Lou Little and other coaches had enabled rampant favoritism for his athletes, allowing them to pass their classes even though they paid scant attention to their studies. During Kerouac’s attendance at Horace Mann, he still had not decided if he wanted to go to Boston College or Columbia until he had graduated from Horace Mann and was home for the summer in Lowell. Despite a “lucrative offer” from B.C., Kerouac opted for Columbia and returned to N.Y.C. in the late summer of 1940 to commence training for the Columbia Lions. Also, he did not receive a football scholarship, but an academic scholarship.

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