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Jack Kerouac reading the opening paragraphs of "October in the Railroad Earth"

There was a little alley in San Francisco back of the Southern
Pacific station at Third and Townsend in redbrick of drowsy lazy
afternoons with everybody at work in offices in the air you feel
the impending rush of their commuter frenzy as soon they’ll be
charging en masse from Market and Sansome buildings on foot
and in buses and all well-dressed thru workingman Frisco of
Walkup ?? truck drivers and even the poor grime-bemarked Third
Street of lost bums even Negros so hopeless and long left East
and meanings of responsibility and try that now all they do is
stand there spitting in the broken glass sometimes fifty in one
afternoon against one wall at Third and Howard and here’s all
these Millbrae and San Carlos neat-necktied producers and
commuters of America and Steel civilization rushing by with San
Francisco Chronicles and green Call-Bulletins not even enough
time to be disdainful, they’ve got to catch 130, 132, 134, 136 all
the way up to 146 till the time of evening supper in homes of the
railroad earth when high in the sky the magic stars ride above
the following hotshot freight trains--it’s all in California, it’s all a
sea, I swim out of it in afternoons of sun hot meditation in my
jeans with head on handkerchief on brakeman’s lantern or (if not
working) on book, I look up at blue sky of perfect lostpurity and
feel the warp of wood of old America beneath me and I* have
insane conversations with Negroes in second*-story windows
above and everything is pouring in, the switching moves of
boxcars in that little alley which is so much like the alleys of
Lowell and I hear far off in the sense of coming night that engine
calling our mountains.

But it was that beautiful cut of clouds I could always see above
the little S.P. alley, puffs floating by from Oakland or the Gate of
Marin to the north or San Jose south, the clarity of Cal to break
your heart. It was the fantastic drowse and drum hum of lum
mum afternoon nathin’ to do, ole Frisco with end of land
sadness--the people--the alley full of trucks and cars of
businesses nearabouts and nobody knew or far from cared who I
was all my life three thousand five hundred miles from birth-O
opened up and at last belonged to me in Great America.

*Note: This "I" is not included in published versions of the work;
"second" is printed as "several".