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This photo of American novelist and poet Jack Kerouac was taken on February 26th, 1943 shortly after enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Jack was around the age of 21 when this photo was taken at the Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. Jack had already gained brief experience in going out to sea prior to his enlistment in the Naval Reserve. In the Fall of 1941, Jack had decided to drop out of Columbia University and join the Merchant Marine and shipped out aboard the U.S. Army Transport ship Dorchester in the summer of 1942.
After completing a voyage to and from an Army command base in Greenland Kerouac left the Merchant Marine in October 1942 and returned to Columbia University. This was a smart move and Lucky for Jack and future fans of his writing. The Dorchester was torpedoed by a German U-boat three months after Kerouac departed and the majority (more than 600) of the ships crew died.
Jack Kerouac didn’t make it in the Naval Reserve and was deemed unfit for duty after only ten days at boot camp. As Miriam Klieman writes at the National Archives, “The qualities that made On the Road a huge success and Kerouac a powerful storyteller, guide, and literary icon are the same ones that rendered him remarkably unsuitable for the military: independence, creativity, impulsivity, sensuality, and recklessness.”
The full size original is below as well as my full size colorization. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.