Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hut Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah and a Brawla, Brawla Sooit

For some reason, I always associated this song with Hudson automobiles when I was young, though it has nothing to do with Hudsons, and no one we knew when I was a kid had a Hudson. That seems strange now because Hudsons were highly respected and well-known, and the Post War Hudsons, 1948-54, were some of the wildest-styled scarab beetle autos of the era. Practically every other car brand from those days I remember very well, whether Chevrolet, Plymouth or Ford, or one of the fancier kind like your Packards and Cadillacs and Lincolns and such. There were Studebakers and Nashes among our friends and even an odd jalopy or two, those rattle-trap coupes and broken-down sedans from the 20s and early 30s with wood-spoke wheels and heavy grinding shifters on the slick rubber or metal floorboards. Oh, I remember the cars from those days very well and loved riding in cars, smelling the smell of the cars and tobacco smoke and open air and rubber and exhaust, listening to the radio, probably Fibber McGee and Molly or something, and driving around the countryside.

Jack Kerouac reported in "On the Road" that Neal Cassady made a lot of money when he was working as a brakeman for the Southern Pacific in San Francisco one year. He saw a Hudson, a brand new 1949 Hudson, and decided he wanted one, so he went to his bank, withdrew all his money, and bought one and went driving. For three months it is said he drove all over the country and to Mexico and back in his 1949 Hudson Commodore, driving with Jack and Allen and Louanne and various girls and hitchhikers until they drove back to California, and the Hudson was repossessed because Neal never made a payment oh it in those three months, and so they didn't have a car anymore.

This story has long been taken as a kind of gospel, but there is actually no evidence that Neal ever bought a Hudson, 1949 or otherwise. It's not even certain that many of the episodes Kerouac reported to have taken place in or with the Hudson in "On the Road" ever did. One thing I've wondered about is why, if Neal made a lot of money with the SP and took his entire savings to buy the 1949 Commodore, he would have any payments due on it. Hudsons weren't cheap, true. Fancy ones actually cost more than Cadillacs or Lincolns or Packards in those days, but still. So I don't know. Did Neal have a Hudson, or was Kerouac's report of it a novelist's conceit because the car looked like jazz and it fit the story's artistic development? Hard to say.

This passage in the Original Scroll Version of "On the Road" is one that popped out at me because of its jazzy-ness, and it has something to do with the Hudson, though it isn't mentioned:
Everything happened. We found the wild ecstatic Allen Anson and spent a night at his house in Long Island. Allen Anson lives in a nice house with his Aunt; when she dies the house is all his. Meanwhile she refuses to comply to any of his wishes and hates his friends. He brought this ragged gang of Neal, Louanne, Al and I and began a roaring party. The woman prowled upstairs; she threatened to call the police. “Oh shut up you old bag!” yelled Anson. I wondered how he could live with her like this. He had more books than I’ve ever seen in all my life…two libraries, two rooms loaded from floor to ceiling around all four walls, and such books as “The Explanation of the Apocalypse” in ten volumes. He played Verdi operas and pantomimed them in his pajamas with the great rip down the back. He didn’t give a damn about anything. He is a great scholar who goes reeling down the NY waterfront with original 14th century musical manuscripts under his arm, shouting. He crawls like a great spider through the streets. His excitement blew out of his eyes in great stabs of fiendish light. He rolled his neck in spastic ecstasy. He lisped, he writhed, he flopped, he moaned, he howled, he fell back in despair. He could hardly get a word out he was so excited with life. Neal stood before him with head bowed repeating over and over again “Yes…yes…yes.” He took me into a corner. “That Allen Anson is the greatest most wonderful of all. That’s what I was trying to tell you…that’s what I want to be…I want to be like him. He’s never hung up, he goes every direction, he lets it all out, he knows time, he has nothing to do but rock back and forth, man he’s the end! You see, if you go like him all the time you’ll finally get it.” “Get what?” “IT! IT! I’ll tell you---now no time, we have no time now.” Neal rushed back to watch Allen Anson some more. George Shearing the great jazz pianist, Neal said, was exactly like Allen Anson.
"Hut Sut Rawlson" is a novelty song from 1945 or so that continued being popular well into the 1950s. I sure remember it.

This is the Hudson that's kept at the Beat Museum in San Francisco. It's from the movie as there's no real proof that Neal Cassady ever had one.  But it's nice to think he might have.

Hudson merged with Nash, like Packard merged with Studebaker, and they all died out by the mid-to-late 50s. The big unique "bathtub" cars of the era made a splash and then were gone. Reminds me just a little bit of what happened to Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac come to think of it.

Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit.
Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla sooit.

The brawla is the boy and girl, The Hut-Sut is their dream.
The sooit is the Teacher who caught them by the stream.

Now the boy and girl are back in school
Shattered is their dream
The teacher planted poison oak
All along the stream....


  1. Kerouac and his beat buddies hit me like a rock to the noggin when I discovered them as a young man. your writing on the subject has brought some of that feeling back these many years later. I want to offer you a profound thanks for that, and for your excellent writing in general (and especially for that on the subject of police brutality in NM.)

    What the heck does a person have to do to get comments on such a fine blog, anyway?

    Come on, people!

    Veal Calf Culture

    1. Oh now. People comment when and where they do. There are many fine blogs that elicit few comments from readers. Thanks for your kind words, btw.

      Kerouac has become quite an interest for me again after all these years. I think I'm a lot more fascinated than I was the first time around. "Dharma Bums" knocked me out, it was so good.

      "On the Road" is different enough in the Scroll version that there's always something interesting or outrageous around the corner.

      I remember reading "Desolation Angels," "The Subterraneans" and "Big Sur" back in the day, so I'll probably read those again, too. There's a lot of other Kerouac stuff I haven't read, though. May have to fill out my Kerouac shelf with those other works...

      The issue of police misconduct in NM continues to simmer, but there was a recent incident in Albuquerque in which a sheriff's deputy killed a guy who everyone seems to agree "needed killing." When things like that happen, a lot of the animosity toward police misconduct tends to dissipate. We'll see where it goes...