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Our mother, Carolyn Cassady, passed away
September 20, 2013 in her beloved England where she'd
lived the last thirty years of her life. She was 90 years old.
After Mom was gone, Jami, John and I were astounded to
discover the fantastic treasures our mother had accumulated
during her productive 90 years.
Besides sketches, costume designs, set designs, drawings, paintings and other art, we uncovered evidence of her prolific writing: volumes of correspondence, journals, at least one screenplay, a 600-page typed autobiography, advice columns and news articles from her journalistic ventures, a novel or two, and the manuscript of the entertaining travel memoir we published in 2018, Travel Tips for the Timid, Or What Guidebooks Never Tell, which is enhanced by her charming illustrations.
Hidden among the many manuscripts was a small fabric-covered journal in which our mother had hand-written about 30 poems. No one knew she wrote poetry! The poems are poignant, private and intimate reflecting her loneliness while living in England, her distress at aging, her spiritual beliefs and her thoughts about the future. In 2020 these poems were published as Poetic Portrait: Carolyn Cassady Revealed in Poetry and Prose. Accompanying each poem is commentary gleaned from thirty years' worth of Mom's detailed journals that serve to put the poems in context.
During her lifetime, Mom spent ten years writing her memoir, Off The Road, which chronicles the behind-the-scenes events occurring as our Dad, Neal Cassady, and his pals, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the other creative souls who came to be called "The Beat Generation" were On The Road. (The title of Kerouac's book about their adventures.) Besides working full time, our mother augmented her income by painting portraits, and became costume and make-up artist for the Los Gatos Academy of Dance, the Wagon Stagers, the San Jose Opera Company, the San Jose Light Opera Company and the drama club of the University of Santa Clara.
Throughout Carolyn's life, she bemoaned the fact that she was never known for herself. She was overshadowed by the Beat guys' antics and reputations. Though she is gone, my goal is to rectify that situation, publish as much of her work as possible, and tell her story.
I am on a quest to have our mother's accomplishments identified and her incredible body of work honored. She was far more than an appendage to the Beat guys.
** Documentary by Carl Stickley in celebration of Carolyn's 89th birthday
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