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    Many people have heard the stories of Jack haunting Haslams, and it’s true that he spent quite a bit of time here. In the late 60s, there were only four bookstores, yet.. oddly… two bookmobiles, listed in the city directories, and Haslam’s was considered the crown jewel of book stores in the entire area. Kerouac would spend hours reading in a chair there and would rearrange the shelves so that his books were more prominently displayed. There have been quite a few instances that Ray Hinst, the owner at the time, accounts of Kerouac’s books falling off the shelves late at night when the store was closed. 

    Despite his reputation as a sort of spontaneous genius, it’s important to know that Jack Kerouac was a very well-read man. He devoured Dosteyevsky, Walt Whitman, Thomas Wolfe… all the great novels. He was able to achieve these feats of writing beautiful novels, poems and short stories in one fell swoop precisely because he was such a diligent student of the written word, and had been so since a really young age.

    By the time Kerouac was of high school and college age, his family’s economic situation was pretty dire, but he was able to secure scholarships to Horace Mann, a rigorous and prestigious prep school, Columbia University, on football scholarships. Out of all his Beat buddies, with perhaps the exception of Allen Ginsberg, he was the one who took writing and literature very seriously. He analyzed and critiqued the writing of others and had a very strong work ethic when it came to writing. He spent years refining the concept of On the Road before he ever actually took the trip. He kept lengthy journals and parts of On the Road are culled from the journal entries he made while traveling in the late 1940s and early 50s, well before his trip with Neal Cassady. 

    This section of Central Ave. was a world apart from the Central Ave. closer to downtown, very rough and almost rural. 

    Up towards this end, there was:

    The Tic-Toc Bar & Package (2410)

    The Ideal Cocktail Lounge (2420)

    McCall’s Artificial Limbs (2428)

    Two blocks from Haslam’s, which at the time was nestled in between a Fred Astaire Dance Studio and the Colony Liquor Shop and across the street from an International Harvester Truck lot (2063 1st. Ave. S.), was the Twilight Cocktail Lounge, which had a garage apartment in the back. Kerouac and his buddies would climb up on the roof after the bar closed and hang out until the early morning, just talking and drinking.

    Fun Fact: In 1964 and 1965, there were 137 businesses listed as Taverns in the St. Pete City Directory.

    Research provided by Margaret Murray

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