Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac or Jack as we know him, was born in the mill-town of Lowell, Massachusetts on March 12th, 1922 to a family of Catholic Canadian immigrants who spoke Quebecois French. In discussing Kerouac’s literary legacy we should also be celebrating the success story of a 1st generation immigrant like so many who helped weave the diverse tapestry of America’s history. Jack Kerouac published fourteen novels during his lifetime, many posthumous collections of poetry and fiction along with 15 films credited to his writing. Kerouac's most well known novels are On The Road and Dharma Bums. His literary legacy and status as a counter-culture icon place Kerouac among the most influential writers of the 20th century.
For lack of a better place The Flamingo Bar has served as a sort of spiritual home for fans to interact with Kerouac’s legacy in St. Petersburg by having a drink special named after him, attending fundraisers and tribute concerts hosted by our charity since 2012, and reading excerpts from Kerouac’s books and poetry. Gabrielle Calise wrote an article in the Tampa Bay Times about the city-wide celebrations planned for the Kerouac Centennial.
The bar’s owner, Dale Nichols was a friend of Kerouac’s and has owned the bar since 1969. Nichols, met the novelist in 1967, then a young man who had just returned to Florida from the Vietnam War and Kerouac used to be found in the mornings reading the paper, biding his time until he arrived to open the bar. "I didn't know he was a famous writer until he died," he recalled in an article by Iker Seisdedos for El Pais.
Visual artist James Hartzell painted the side of the bar with a Kerouac themed mural in 2016. James returned to paint a typewriter mural on the opposite side of the building in celebration of the Kerouac Centennial in March of 2022.