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Carolyn Cassady obituary
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Steve Hayes
2013-09-23 19:54:19 UTC
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Carolyn Cassady obituary

American writer and unlikely Beat icon who married Jack Kerouac's wild road
companion Neal Cassady

James Campbell
The Guardian, Monday 23 September 2013 16.07 BST

In her book Off the Road (1990), Carolyn Cassady, who has died aged 90,
charted her extraordinary life with the Beat writers Neal Cassady, her
husband, and Jack Kerouac, her lover. Carolyn was an unlikely, and in many
ways an unwilling, Beat icon herself. When she met Neal in Colorado in 1947,
Carolyn was a student of theatre design at the University of Denver, having
attended a smart east coast ladies' college; he was a car thief, an energetic
seducer of women and occasionally men, and possessed of a restless, manic
energy that had already bewitched Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He also had a
teenage bride, LuAnne Henderson. Soon after they had begun their relationship,
Carolyn crept into Neal's flat one morning to give him a surprise, only to
find him asleep with LuAnne on one side and Ginsberg on the other. After
Carolyn relocated to San Francisco, Neal followed her. They married in 1948.

Kerouac's novel On the Road (1957) was based on the cross-country dashes he
made from New York with Neal (who became the wild-man hero Dean Moriarty in
the novel) and LuAnne (who became Marylou, in the passenger seat in the book).
Meanwhile, Carolyn – who had stayed at home, raising the first of her and
Neal's three children – was portrayed as Camille, the symbol of all that was
stable and decent (or, for the youthful madcaps with an interest in Rimbaud
and Baudelaire, bourgeois).

Carolyn Elizabeth Robinson was born in Lansing, Michigan, the youngest child
of five. Her father was a biochemist and her mother was a teacher. She moved
with her family to Nashville, Tennessee, where she went to school, and then
went to Bennington College, Vermont, at the time an all-female institution.

Humorous and level-headed about most things, she had a blind spot where Neal
was concerned. On a gambling kick, Neal persuaded Natalie Jackson, a girl he
lived with in San Fransisco during the late 1950s, to pose as Carolyn and draw
out the family savings, which he lost at the racetrack. From almost the moment
of their meeting, Neal was unfaithful to Carolyn, sometimes more than once a
day. When his adventures – on the road, or in another's bed – had paled, she
welcomed his return.

Kerouac, too, she defended against his detractors. Urged on by Neal, she and
Kerouac had an affair. Neal had played the same game earlier, with Kerouac and
LuAnne, which Carolyn described fondly in Off the Road. By contrast, Carolyn
had little liking for Ginsberg whose lifelong claims on Neal (resembling, at
times, the claims of a thwarted spouse) she resented deeply.

Carolyn claimed that her association with Neal "made my life", and his
boisterous, carnal presence certainly made her book. Yet her memoir is so
buoyant even in the darkest troughs of her recollections, or when she is
excusing the inexcusable, that it seems a pity she did not write more. Her
artistic interests led her towards the theatre, then to drawing and painting,
and she took several of the most famous photographs of Neal and Kerouac in the
1950s.

Neal died in 1968, by which time he and Carolyn had been living apart for
several years. Her memoir Heart Beat: My Life with Jack and Neal was published
in 1976. She wrote the foreword to As Ever: The Collected Correspondence of
Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady (1977). A collection of Kerouac's letters to
Carolyn was published in 1983, and Carolyn wrote the introduction to Neal
Cassady: Collected Letters, 1944-67, published in 2005.

In the film Heart Beat (1980), written and directed by John Byrum, Sissy
Spacek played Carolyn and Nick Nolte played Neal. Some people encountering
Carolyn in later life were surprised to discover that she was not more hip,
more Beat, more turned-on. By the time I met her in the late 1990s, she was
based in a cluttered flat in Belsize Park, north-west London. A quietly spoken
grandmother, she enjoyed the cultural aspects of the city and her interest in
drugs extended no further than a packet of menthol slim cigarettes. She was a
follower of Edgar Cayce, a believer in reincarnation, whose homespun wisdom –
"The stronger you are, the tougher the tests" – provided her with support in
difficult times.

Cassady later settled in Bracknell, Berkshire. She is survived by her
children, John, Jami and Cathy; and her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.

• Carolyn Cassady, writer, born 28 April 1923; died 20 September 2013


http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/23/carolyn-cassady
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Steve Hayes
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m***@hotmail.com
2013-09-24 12:48:39 UTC
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Carolyn Cassady, Beat Generation Writer, Dies at 90
Jim Richardson/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

Carolyn Cassady in 1982.
By JOHN LELAND
Published: September 23, 2013

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Carolyn Cassady, a writer who entered the American consciousness in 1957 as a character in Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road,” and decades later chronicled her life as a member of the Beat Generation, died on Friday near her home in Bracknell, England. She was 90.
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Carolyn and Neal Cassady in 1952.
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Carolyn Cassady

Neal Cassady, left, and Jack Kerouac.

Her death was confirmed by her daughter Cathy Sylvia, who said Ms. Cassady lapsed into a coma after an emergency appendectomy.

Ms. Cassady, whom Jerry Cimino, director of the Beat Museum in San Francisco, called “the grande dame of the Beat Generation,” was a central figure in the real-life circle of friends whose travels across the country in search of kicks and revelation were immortalized in “On the Road.” She was the inspiration for the character Camille, the second wife of Dean Moriarty, the “wild yea-saying overburst of American joy” who makes the novel go go go. Dean Moriarty was based on Neal Cassady, her husband during the period recounted in the novel.

For a woman in the 1940s and ’50s, this was not an easy role. While her male peers, including her husband, celebrated the freedoms of sex, drugs, literature and the open road, Ms. Cassady was by turns an eager participant and a dissenting adult, the one who kept the utilities on, raised the children and watched with dismay as the next generation of young men emulated the self-destructive impulses of the last.

Her two books, “Heart Beat: My Life With Jack and Neal” (1976), which was made into a 1980 film, and “Off the Road: My Years With Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg” (1990), provided a sobering corrective to what she considered misconceptions about the essentially unhappy lives of these men, the poet Allen Ginsberg among them, even while excusing the worst of her husband’s transgressions.

“I kept thinking that the imitators never knew and don’t know how miserable these men were,” she told the novelist Gina Berriault in 1972. “They think they were having marvelous times — joy, joy, joy — and they weren’t at all.”

Ms. Cassady was born Carolyn Robinson on April 23, 1923, in East Lansing, Mich., the youngest of five siblings in a household that prized Victorian values and books — more than 2,500 of them. Her father was a biochemist and her mother a former English teacher.

The family moved to Nashville when Carolyn was 8. After attending an elite prep school and Bennington College in Vermont, she was studying painting and theater design in a graduate program at the University of Denver in March 1947 when her life took a wild turn — as several lives did in those days — in the person of Neal Cassady.

As Ms. Cassady described their meeting in “Off the Road,” she was pretty and demure and owned some jazz records; he was charming and sexually voracious and married. In quick succession Mr. Cassady divorced his first wife, LuAnne Henderson, and married Ms. Robinson. She was pregnant, out of school and beginning the adventure of a lifetime.

Neal Cassady, who died in 1968, was an intoxicating literary protagonist, but as a husband he was a piece of work. Much of their marriage, until their divorce in 1963, involved his running off with other women or with his male friends. During their courtship Ms. Cassady once found him in bed with his first wife and Ginsberg; later, she acceded to his request that she have an affair with Kerouac.

Kerouac portrayed Mr. Cassady as the “holy goof,” an instinctual genius who elicited so much of God’s love because he gave him so much to forgive. Ms. Cassady was often the first line of forgiveness.

Yet in her writing she stressed his efforts to be a different man: to excel at work on the railroad, to be the paterfamilias for a family that grew to include three children.

“She saw him as the family man trying to provide for the children,” Mr. Cimino of the Beat Museum said. “She knew about the guy who had girlfriends, but the way she put it was, ‘I married Neal for better or worse, and I was hoping he’d be the man I wanted him to be.’ As much as she hated it, that’s who she was, the widow of Neal Cassady.”

Ms. Sylvia remembered their home as being filled with costumes her mother designed as the artistic director of the drama department at the University of Santa Clara. At other times, the smell of oil paints filled the house from Ms. Cassady’s work as a portrait painter.

In recent years Ms. Cassady lived outside London, gardening and painting, often courted by celebrities or fans of the Beat Generation who sought her out. Mr. Cimino said she had slowed down but still enjoyed a cigarette and a glass of wine.

Besides Ms. Sylvia, she is survived by her two other children with Neal Cassady, Jami Ratto and John Allen Cassady; three grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

John, who was named for Kerouac, Ginsberg and his father, was with her in England for her final three months and held her hand as she died, Ms. Sylvia said.
Peter Ceresole
2013-09-25 19:40:44 UTC
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Post by Steve Hayes
Carolyn Cassady obituary
American writer and unlikely Beat icon who married Jack Kerouac's wild road
companion Neal Cassady
I met her once in King's Cross at an appearance by David Amram. She was
delightful, friendly, a real American lady of the best kind. But then
I'm not sure about the reputations that the Beats were awarded in their
lifetimes, and since. Rereading 'On the Road', Jack comes across as a
nice French Canadian Catholic who loved his mother, and was fascinated
by Bad Boy Neal, who did all those things he didn't dare to do. It seems
likely that it was trying to live up to his own reputation that did for
him in the end.
--
Peter
w***@gmail.com
2014-12-06 00:04:37 UTC
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The very first Kerouac biography came out in or around 1972. The author was one Ann Charters. I net the lady the same day as did Carolyn Cassady, as I was with Carolyn in the office of Straight Arrow books, an imprint of Rolling Stone, which was located on Third Street in San Francisco.

The book Kerouac was imminent. And yet Charters had never contacted Carolyn Cassady until the moment she bumped into her that day. I find this astonishing.

A chat with Carolyn convinced Charters there was something she might use in Carolyn's own memoirs. The drug bust in North Beach, however, was the extent of her interest.

And so began a comedy of errors which brought Charters to that famous Monte Sereno ranchito to copy the episode directly from Carolyn's own manuscript. And then Carolyn began to feel, understandably, that she had been ill-used, so demanded that her contributions to Kerouac be expunged before publication. The editor graciously conceded the point.

You read it here first, and solely, I'll bet - if there's anyone left to care.
Dave Moore
2014-12-09 22:22:22 UTC
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No, Tim, I have read this from you before, on other forums -- many years
ago.

None of this is new, as you well know.

Dave


<***@gmail.com> wrote in message news:d9783eb1-8701-4b1e-bbf8-***@googlegroups.com...
The very first Kerouac biography came out in or around 1972. The author was
one Ann Charters. I net the lady the same day as did Carolyn Cassady, as I
was with Carolyn in the office of Straight Arrow books, an imprint of
Rolling Stone, which was located on Third Street in San Francisco.

The book Kerouac was imminent. And yet Charters had never contacted Carolyn
Cassady until the moment she bumped into her that day. I find this
astonishing.

A chat with Carolyn convinced Charters there was something she might use in
Carolyn's own memoirs. The drug bust in North Beach, however, was the extent
of her interest.

And so began a comedy of errors which brought Charters to that famous Monte
Sereno ranchito to copy the episode directly from Carolyn's own manuscript.
And then Carolyn began to feel, understandably, that she had been ill-used,
so demanded that her contributions to Kerouac be expunged before
publication. The editor graciously conceded the point.

You read it here first, and solely, I'll bet - if there's anyone left to
care.
Will Dockery
2015-03-17 06:06:37 UTC
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Post by w***@gmail.com
The very first Kerouac biography came out in or around 1972. The author was one Ann Charters. I net the lady the same day as did Carolyn Cassady, as I was with Carolyn in the office of Straight Arrow books, an imprint of Rolling Stone, which was located on Third Street in San Francisco.
The book Kerouac was imminent. And yet Charters had never contacted Carolyn Cassady until the moment she bumped into her that day. I find this astonishing.
A chat with Carolyn convinced Charters there was something she might use in Carolyn's own memoirs. The drug bust in North Beach, however, was the extent of her interest.
And so began a comedy of errors which brought Charters to that famous Monte Sereno ranchito to copy the episode directly from Carolyn's own manuscript. And then Carolyn began to feel, understandably, that she had been ill-used, so demanded that her contributions to Kerouac be expunged before publication. The editor graciously conceded the point.
You read it here first, and solely, I'll bet - if there's anyone left to care.
Charters' book sure was essential back in 1973-74 as I was discovering and learning of the Beats, I see now it could have been better.

The book I sadly lost my beloved copy of /somewhere/, is Memory Babe, the thick biography with what I rememeber having a light green cover.

I think actually in a dark booze soaked evening when I carried it and a few other artifacts out with me while sober, then suddenly becoming very smashed, might have left them in the back seat of some ride or other.

The book just doesn't seem so easy to come by these days.

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