In my first attempts at connecting Carolina locales with Kerouac’s narratives, I mis-identified the house that makes a cameo appearance in On the Road as the place where Neal Cassady arrives, Christmastime 1947, in his new Hudson to begin the whirlwind series of trips to New York and back again that are the first our hero, Sal Paradise, takes with his hero, Dean Moriarity. So extreme was the boast about how quickly these trips were made that Kerouac’s editor insisted that the southern point of the trip had to be in Virginia: thus Testament, Virginia, the only fictional setting in On the Road, was born, a thinly disguised Rocky Mount.
I stupidly used a 1950 Rocky Mount city directory to identify “the last house on the left,” as Kerouac describes it, but should’ve known better: the 1948 city directory, which I later found, shows that Tarboro Street had been extended by a couple of blocks by then, and that in ’48, the “last house on the left” was at 1108 Tarboro Street.
Big Easonburg [West Mount]
Re-numbering of residences to comply with safety regulations resulted in this house, where much of Dharma Bums and all of Visions of Gerard were written, is now numbered 8116 West Mount, Rocky Mount.