Remembering Neal Cassady

4 Feb

“I recently heard a quote in a play, the source I forget: ‘A man’s measure is not from the amount of love he gives to others but the amount he is loved.’ I have to think about that, but Neal was/is certainly loved.”

~ Carolyn Cassady

Just a few days shy of his forty-second birthday, Neal Cassady passed away. On February 3, 1968, he left a wedding party in Mexico, where he’d taken a barbiturate known for its hypnotic effects, and began walking along the railroad tracks in San Miguel to reach the next town. Somewhere along the way, he passed out. He was found in a coma the next morning. He was taken to a hospital, but died a few hours later. The autopsy report read: “general congestion in all systems.” He was apparently cremated.

Popular imagination most readily remembers Neal Cassady as a muse, a character in novels, the man behind the wheel of the bus Further in grainy film footage. Check him out in these “Beat” novels:

  • Dean Moriarty in On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Dean in Jazz of the Beat Generation by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
  • Cody Pomeray in Book of Sketches by Jack Kerouac
  • Neal Pomeray in Neal and the Three Stooges by Jack Kerouac
  • Leroy in The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
  • Hart Kennedy in Go by John Clellon Holmes

Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, and The Grateful Dead also wrote about their experiences with Cassady.

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