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, poignant poetry reflecting her loneliness while living in England, 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. We had no idea she had been industriously toiling away at these endeavors behind our backs, so to speak.
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. Toward that end, I have created a PowerPoint slideshow about Carolyn's life and work. I have presented this program at libraries, colleges, museums, bookstores and various other venues. During the fall of 2019, I will take this show "on the road", traveling to places that were significant in Mom's life. We will begin in Michigan where she was born and include Bennington, Vermont, since Mom attended Bennington College. In the future, I'd like to offer this program in Nashville, Tennessee where she lived from age eight until she left for college, and Denver, where she was working toward a Masters degree in Theater Arts when she met our father, Neal Cassady.
The speaking schedule for the fall tour can be viewed in the "Events" section.
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.