Author & veteran retracing Kerouac’s trail…in his gorgeous 1967 ‘Stang

Bruce Gamble and his 1967 Mustang, ready to hit the road!
Photo courtesy ‘StangNet.com/Bruce Gamble

Wow, what a terrific story—and plan! Historian Bruce Gamble is going to take
his knockout ’67 Mustang on a nearly  10,000-mile jaunt across the country, following the route of Jack Kerouac in On The Road. 
From Mr. Gamble’s press release:

 Starting in September 2012, award-winning author Bruce Gamble will travel across America in a vintage Ford Mustang to discuss his latest book while paying tribute to a literary giant. Sixty-five years ago, Jack Kerouac embarked on a months-long journey of discovery across the United States and back — the basis of his classic novel On the Road. Bruce will trace the entire 6,000-mile route in “Sweet Chariot,” a 1967 Mustang convertible named for a bomber his father flew in World War II. Throughout the tour, Bruce will hold presentations and signings for his new book entitled Swashbucklers and Black Sheep.

Swashbucklers and Black Sheep: A Pictorial History of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in World War II, is a lavishly illustrated account of America’s most famous fighter squadron. Initially calling themselves the Swashbucklers, the pilots of VMF-214 fought with distinction in the early battles of the Southwest Pacific campaign. Later, under the leadership of the legendary Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington, the squadron became a household name as the Black Sheep. Featuring a rich collection of historical photography and aviation art, Swashbucklers and Black Sheep tells the complete story of the squadron’s service in World War II and beyond.

If the cover is any indication (Amazon has only six of these left and it hasn’t been released yet!), the book will have some beautiful artwork—either of my grandfathers would be a better judge of this (though I do know of Jim Laurier and Craig Kodera, two of the artists), but definitely worth a look. Also: Christmas is coming, dear reader.

Mr. Gamble, a Navy veteran and Pennsylvania native, is paralyzed and has also survived cancer; his Mustang has special hand controls enabling him to keep driving this beauty. You can see more photos of Sweet Chariot here. A classic car buff just like yours truly, he has driven his Mustang all over the country—having clocked in more than 30,000 miles already. During his newest journey, Gamble won’t just be promoting his forthcoming book, but taking stock of what he sees during the trip and how it has or has not changed since Kerouac’s day—meaning there’s going to be another fun book to look forward to:

During the five-week trip, I’ll record  observations about what has changed across this great country of ours—and what still remains the same. Essays will be posted to this blog site regularly, with future plans for magazine articles and a book.

Not only that, but Mr. Gamble wants to give hope to people:

“I was in rehab at a VA, spinal chord unit, in Tampa,” Gamble said. “There were a lot of young quadripalegics on the ward, and compared to them I was mobile. I saw that and I was inspired by some young guys who could only move their head and neck, so who was I to complain about not being able to use my legs.

…“Yes, you can still get out and enjoy life,” Gamble said. “Just because you have a physical disability doesn’t mean you can’t tour the country by yourself.”

So true. And if my experiences along Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, US 22 and others are any indication—most of the folks you meet are good and helpful people. There are angels everywhere, so don’t let something stop you from chasing after a thing you’ve wanted to do!

I love seeing anybody embark upon a road trip, but especially veterans—who I hope enjoy seeing what they’ve fought to preserve—and ESPECIALLY a handsome Navy vet (my Grandpa fits into this category, you know) in a stunning vintage Mustang. ;) (Hey, you can take the girl out of the Motor City, but…)

Mr. Gamble will be logging his road trip on his blog, so follow along; you’ll also find a schedule of his events there; several that take place at air shows, and one stop will be at the wonderful National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola (where a  guardsman at the entrance referred to me as a “dangerous weapon” when I stopped in to visit a few years ago, bless him). Best wishes to Mr. Gamble for an absolutely fantastic road trip—I hope he meets many wonderful folks and, of course, sells a few books as he roams the fruited plains in his beautiful car!

Just don’t forget the fantastic diner food, Mr. Gamble…Especially the Polk-A-Dot Drive-In if you’re near Joliet. (I think those burgers are from Heaven.) Godspeed and have a great time!

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3 thoughts on “Author & veteran retracing Kerouac’s trail…in his gorgeous 1967 ‘Stang

  1. Hi Jen, thank’s for letting us in on Mr Gambles adventure, I’ll follow along to see the sites. Very inspiring. That is a great car to do it in. I popped in to the Polk-A-Dot dinner too, doesn’t everything taste so much better in these nostalgic haunts…that drive-in speaker brought back some good memeories too. I really give credit to these young men and women who fight for your country, so much heartache, but they persavere.

  2. Glad to see you liked it! I’m curious to see how his trip goes myself. I love veterans—several in my family and circle of friends. Anyone who signs a blank check over to America has my wholehearted support.

    Isn’t the Polk-A-Dot great? Oh my word. I couldn’t believe how good the burger was, and I had to have it sans bun. Amazing.

  3. Pingback: People are the best part of road trips. | Victory Rolls and V8s

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