The Megyn Kelly-Jack Kerouac-Donald Trump-Woody Guthrie Connection

Whether you believe Donald Trump’s announcement to skip Thursday night's Republican primary debate is because he’s afraid to face moderator Megyn Kelly, or a savvy move by an entertainer defying the laws of political gravity, the concept of six degrees of separation - that is, that anyone on the planet is connected to anyone else in just six steps – suggests that what is happening today is a crash collision of things being just where they ought to be.

Kelly, whose father was a professor at SUNY Albany, grew up, from the age of nine forward, in the Albany suburb of Delmar and attended Bethlehem Central High School. In 1995, she earned a J.D. from Albany Law School.

A New York Times magazine profile in January 2015 recalled Kelly’s teenage years in the late 1980s: she lived in a mall rat’s bubble of tall hair, leg warmers and Bon Jovi; one of the popular kids, she was the type who also had friends among the other groups at Bethlehem Central High School, with names like the Dirties (hackeysack-playing stoners) and the Creamies (choir geeks).

II

Kelly is perhaps the most notable person to come out of Delmar since Joan Haverty, who grew up in the town of Bethlehem hamlet in the 1930s. Haverty married writer Jack Kerouac in 1950 and while on their Thanksgiving weekend honeymoon – two years after Kerouac’s hitchhiking cross-country journey which helped spawn his book On The Road – the newlyweds famously hitchhiked from Manhattan to Delmar to share the happy news with Haverty's mother.

Jack Kerouac

III

Within days of Kerouac’s wedding, and in a matter unrelated except for the date, singer Woody Guthrie – who had famously done some rambling of his own across the country - settled down to sign his name to a lease of a new apartment in Brooklyn. Throughout his life, Guthrie famously used his words, his voice and his guitar to rail against social and racial injustice. In short order, the target became his landlord at the Beach Haven apartment complex. The landlord was Fred Trump, father of Donald Trump.

Beach Haven ain't my home! I just cain't pay this rent! My money's down the drain! And my soul is badly bent! Beach Haven looks like heaven/ Where no black ones come to roam! No, no, no! Old Man Trump! Old Beach Haven ain't my home! wrote Guthrie.

For Woody, Fred Trump came to personify all the viciousness of the racist codes that continued to put decent housing out of reach for so many of his fellow citizens, reports The Conversation.

Woody Guthrie

IV

After two years at Beach Haven, Guthrie relocated to 85th street and 159th avenue, in the Howard Beach section of Queens. It would remain the family home from 1952 to 1967. When I lived in the neighborhood in the late 1980s, John Gotti’s home was located down the block from the former Guthrie residence.

Meanwhile, Kerouac’s marriage to Haverty did not last. From 1943 to about 1955, Kerouac would return time again to live with his mother at her two residences, located in the Ozone Park and Richmond Hill sections of Queens – coincidentally a short walk to Woody Guthrie’s home.

In 1946, Donald Trump was born in Queens and grew up in the wealthy enclave of Jamaica Estates, built in part by his father, Fred Trump.

For a period of a few years in the 1950s, Trump, Guthrie, and Kerouac lived near one another. There is no record that the three ever met. Guthrie died in October 1967, Kerouac in October 1969. In 1968, 22-year-old Donald Trump joined his father’s company, Trump Management.

 

V, VI Incomplete Postscript

I realize we’re a note or so short of meeting the completed concept of SIX degrees of separation. If anyone’s got anything to tie Megyn Kelly to Woody Guthrie, feel free to chime in.

Donald and Fred Trump