Neal Cassady, Denver, and the Beat Generation

Denver Colorado

Neal Cassady

and   the

B e a t      G e n e r a t i o n

by tom christopher

originally published in Beat Scene magazine

Colorado men are we

From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,

from the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,

Pioneers! O Pioneers!

(excerpt from Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman)

When the origins and influence of the beat generation are considered, we see it as a post war movement associated with large American cities with an artistic tradition. New York, at first, where the original core of beat writers met around the Columbia University campus, and a decade later in San Francisco.

But in between these two cities, there’s another place where Kerouac, Ginsberg and to an extent, Burroughs, fit in and made lifelong friends. Denver Colorado was home not only to Neal Cassady, but to a whole group of young people who remain largly unknown, but who’s lives reflect the working class aspect of beat culture, and also show us how close to the real roots of American culture beat culture actually is.

Allen Ginsberg told his friend Robert La Vigna that after Howl’s publication he got more mail from the mid west than from the big costal cities. Maybe that sums it up. LuAnne Henderson said that nobody cared that Jack and Allen were working on their writing. They were kids, they just wanted to grab a beer and have some fun. And that’s important, too.

Denver, ‘the mile high city’, at the base of the Rocky Mountains, with its land locked location in the southwestern United States, might be assumed to be the kind of small city that’s prominent on maps because if its function as state capitol, without ever seeming to have the dynamics of a real city. A large small town with a nice open park around a Greek or Roman inspired governmental complex that makes for a nice diversionary drive on Sunday afternoon, but that seems an after-thought or a showpiece, somehow not connected to the busted knuckle industry that built America along the rivers and railways. That doesn’t apply to Denver.

Denver was officially founded on 22 Nov 1858, though its unofficial beginnings were on the 16 of September, when William H Larimer, who liked to be called ‘the General’ discovered the claim-setting cabin built a month previously by the Saint Charles Town Company of Lawrence, Kansas, moved in, and staked out his own city at the ヤmouth of Cherry Creek where it forms it’s confluence with the South Platte’ River.

William Larimer was born in western Pennsylvania in 1809, and went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a young man, where, besides earning the commission of major general in the state militia, he practiced the various trades of hotel keeping, horse trading, general store keeping, grocery wholesaling, banking, real estate, and railroad building before losing his money in an 1845 bank crash. He continued west and by 1858 had reestablished himself successfully in Omaha, Nebraska as a banker. Though by this time he was married with children, when he heard stories of gold strikes in Colorado he set off with a group of gold seekers and ‘town boomers’.

Before the site of the city, named after then governor of the Kansas Territory, James W. Denver, had been discovered, Larimer had been in negotiation with the Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express Company to establish an office in his proposed city. This was done and when the first stage pulled into town on 7 may 1859 the survival of the city was assured. The General had seen frontier cities rise and die before, and he was playing for keeps in a game played by those at least as rootless and driven as he; young claim jumpers, speculators and gamblers who sometimes wagered town lots in games of questionable chance. Denver grew and prospered during this time, however, following political defeats, the General left Denver in 1862 for Leavenworth Kansas, where he eventually died in 1875

But by 1860 the course for Denver was set. Gold from the Pikes Peak gold rush, and later, silver, made the area affluent. The confluence of not only the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, but of the Arkansas River Trail and Smokey Hill Trail guaranteed an influx of travelers desired by merchants, and the Rocky Mountains, imposing to even a modern car, made Denver the farthest post west

Larimer Street in 1860, when the population was 5000, was a collection of brick and wood buildings, the mud filled potholes and open sewers covered by wobbly uneven boards, with piles of furs and pelts stacked on the streets. Contemporary maps show 36 taverns clustered around down town, and the first churches, a Southern Methodist and Roman Catholic chapel were completed that year. Other church groups met in taverns, which did a double duty as theatres, town halls, and even banks, as they tended to have the biggest safes, to accommodate the large sums of cash their business required. Denver was described as a place of ‘many rude shanties for the sale of whiskey and tobacco’, where ‘gambling and dissipation were…universal’. A British visitor, William Hepworth Dixon wrote in 1866, ‘as you wander about these hot and dirty streets, you seem to be walking in a city of demons. Every fifth house appears to be a bar, a whiskey shop, a lager-beer saloon; every tenth house appears to be either a brothel or a gaming house; very often both in one.’

According to Episcopal Church records, of the first twelve funerals conducted, five of the deceased had been shot, two were executed for murder, one shot himself and one died of alcoholism.

A severe fire destroyed the other main business streets of Blake and Market Streets in 1863, leaving Larimer as the unquestioned main street. The old downtown area of Denver, made famous by Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady was built after this point, and the area was fully developed by 1883.

Denver continued to grow. Street cars, pulled along their tracks by mules, delivered residents to the first suburb of Curtis Park beginning in 1871. Gas lights were installed downtown in 1873, and by 1880 the city sported 80’ telephone poles. By 1880 the population was 35,000 and Denver attracted a group of English investors interested in building a half million dollar hotel, The Windsor. In the nineteenth century hotels were the measure of civilization for cities, and with the opening of The Windsor, internationally noted, with its 300 rooms and staff of 140 persons overseeing a miniature city including a Western Union Office, a barber shop, two bars, three restaurants, a library, a laundry, a wine cellar, a tobacconist, and a maze of parlors, meeting rooms and suites, Denver became a destination in itself.

By 1890, with a population of over 100,000, Denver was the third most populated city in the west, behind San Francisco and Omaha. Larimer Street was compared favorably to New York’s Broadway, and tourists were sometimes said to outnumber residents. It was in this year that Elitches Botanical Gardens were opened, which would later be a beat hangout

As growth continued, newer and grander buildings were built along the downtown streets not yet developed,and no new building was done on Larimer Street after 1883. The once splendid Windsor and others like the Tabor and the Barclay fell into disrepair, their fates sealed by an international depression in 1893, the same year the U.S. federal government demonetized silver, and Colorado, ‘the silver state’ sank into an economic slide, turning Larimer Street and the other older sections of Blake and Market Streets into a classic skid row, populated by the fallen gentry of the earlier age, and the hardscrabble workers who could aspire to nothing more. The large hotel rooms were eventually subdivided into flop house cubicles, a screen of chicken wire covering the tops, often littered with broken glass to discourage crawling across it.

Despite this, newspapers from the turn of the century till the war years show a typical, healthy city building itself on a local level as the country goes thru its economic cycles and engages in wars and conflicts. Industry and commerce rise and fall, the land is developed, schools and churches are built, shows, plays, movies, sports attractions and popular dance bands come and go.

Larimer Street About 1910.

photo copyright tom christopher. all rights reserved

But below the respectability lies the old cowboy town of sunburned refugees and gamblers. Indeed there had been a near shoot out at city hall in 1893 when reform governor Davis H.Waite, vowing to ‘purify’ Denver appointed new police and fire chiefs, and the current ones refused to leave their offices, quickly marshalling a troop of 200 police and hastily deputized gamblers and saloon keepers who held off the 400 state troops. The governor eventually backed down and took his case to the supreme court, where he lost. He also lost his next election for governor, blaming his defeat on ‘15,000 gamblers and lewd women.’.

The anarchy of skid row and the rough down town on the ‘other side of the tracks’ were social facts that had been historically tolerated by the frontier towns. They supplied a pool of unskilled labor that spent a greater proportion of it’s income than did the more stable and genteel population on the right side of the tracks.

At the turn of the century, pornography was publicly available at the numerous penny arcades downtown. Alcohol was readily available even through the prohibition years of 1920 – 1933, and those involved in bootlegging at that time speak today of paying off the police for protection, and of selling alcohol to high ranking police officers. A form of prostitution operated openly under the guise of a maid system for boarding houses until 1941.

Denver about 1910. The tall building in the center is the Daniels and Fisher Tower, which is still standing. Neal writes of it in The First Third. He would have seen it looking towards the camera from three blocks down at The New Metropolitan Hotel on the corner of 16 and Market Streets, one of many old hotels where he lived with his father. The view below is from the Tower, and the hang out area of Neal’s teen years is the smaller, older buildings on the right and a quarter down the image

This is the city to which the young Neal Leon Cassady returned. Neal was born in Salt Lake City, under the misspelling of ‘Cassidy’ on 8 February 1926. His father, Neal Cassady (born Neal Marshall Casady in Queen City, Missouri), having deserted his first wife in Des Moines, Iowa, wed the widowed Jean Daly (born Maud(e) Webb Schuer or Scheuer in Osecola, Iowa) in Denver, where they met in 1925, and, building a cabin on a truckbed, took her and her youngest son, Jimmy, to Salt Lake. They lived together at 48 1/2 Broadway, and he worked as a barber at the Desert Gym.

It’s unclear from existing records if the Cassadys returned as a family. Denver directories from 1928 indicate Jean Cassady may have lived alone, but by 1930, she and Neal lived in the same building as one of her older sons, possibly the same apartment, and by 1931 Neal Sr is listed as having a barbershop in the building that Neal describes in his unfinished autobiography The First Third as being the last home the family shared.

Saint Clara’s Orphanage, where Neal’s sister Shirley was sent after their parents’ divorce

From the time of his parent’s divorce in 1932 until his mother’s death in 1936, Neal spent the school year with either his mother or the extended family of his older half brothers, traveling with his father during the summer months. After his mother’s death he lived with his brothers’ families, as much as they could handle him, but school records note that though his father’s whereabouts are often unknown, Neal prefers to be with him. Neal writes of these years in The First Third, and accurately describes the neighborhood as it existed then, before several streets were moved. His family moved regularly around the general area of Curtis Park, which was the original suburb of Denver served by mule driven trollys in the 1880s. Much of this area is still as Neal described it.

Writer and publisher William Jovanovich grew up in this neighborhood, though he never met Neal, either in Denver, or later at Columbia University. He describes an area that was simply poor, but not a slum, and a city with roots in the east. Walking those streets today one sees a pleasing example of the way American towns were laid out early in this century, with small wood framed working class bungalows side by side with the more substantial red brick homes of the bourgeois, and the utilitarian and archaic boarding houses so common during that time. Small commercial buildings that once housed a variety of mom and pop businesses ring the area , and there are a few early apartment buildings. Neal writes accurately of the wide alleys that separate the back yards here, and that helps give the area a low, open, and friendly look. This is the type of neighborhood you see in the old Hal Roach ‘Little Rascals’ and ‘Our Gang’ comedies of the 1930s, and it’s easy to imagine the legions of kids that must’ve swarmed from those old apartments to the candy shop and off to the ballpark back in the thirties. The neighborhood changes from block to block, and some blocks have never been touched by prosperity.

The Lyons was a private residential hotel across the street from The Snowden Apartments, where Neal often lived. No photos of the Snowden are known to exist, but this photo, which dates to 1910 shows a building similar to Neal’s descriptions in The First Third

School photos show a mix of races in the area, with maybe half the kids white, and the other half a mixture of black, hispanic and asian. The white kids don’t remember race as playing much of a role in their lives. They played with all the kids at school, and today old friends are remembered for their athletic or scholastic abilities, not their color. Minority kids recall it differently, though, citing mostly unspoken rules that kept them from mixing freely with anglo kids, particularly later, during their teen years, but none are overly burdened by what was taken as a fact of life at the time. Denver Public Library has promotional material for the KKK during that time, but they Don’t seem to have been particularly active.

If Neal was poor it was because the neighborhood was poor, Denver was poor and the whole country was poor in the 1930s. Neal Sr. was indeed a hardcore alcoholic who could be counted on to drink vanilla extract or sterno, an alcohol based fuel, before resorting to sobriety, but Neal’s mother Jean, who married young and had nine successful births, provided her family with a sense of culture and security. Neal’s brothers always worked during a time when jobs were scarce, and supported their mother when Mr Cassady was unable or unwilling, and upon her death continued to support Neal. Funeral records indicate Mrs. Cassady received an expensive funeral from her loving family, and when Neal was baptized the summer of her death, his godfather noted that Neal was already proficient in his Catholic theology. Friends say Neal never stood out as being poor or ill mannered. Indeed, just the opposite was true, Neal was noted to intelligent, humorous and well mannered at an early age, and this must be seen as the result of his mother’s influence, a fact he acknowlegdes in The First Third.

For all the mischief Neal could’ve gotten into, he really didn’t do very much. He was self directed and could read in the library for hours, having acquired an early love of books, and he excelled at the after school sports either on the grounds of Ebert Elementary School, Cole Jr High or the ballpark on Welton and 23 rd streets. He attended school till about ninth grade, or 1940, and it was about this time that he began stealing cars and making extended trips to California. But it should also be noted that contemporary newspaper stories paint car theft for the purpose of joy riding to have been a common crime by the young, and and other articles describe kids of Neal’s age to have been participating in much more serious, violent crime than Neal was involved with, some of them getting multiple year sentences in prison for repeated offenses. Also, Cassady always worked hard, if he didn’t always work, often at strenuous adult jobs like tire recapping.

It was late 1941 that Neal met the man who would mentor him and be a bridge to the group that would become the New York beats. Justin Briarly was born on 3 September 1905 in the house his grandfather, Denver pioneer John Walters had built. Justin had attended Columbia University and briefly run a talent agency in New York before returning to Colorado to practice law and teach school at East High, the most affluent school in Denver, serving the prosperous families living around the capitol. Justin has been described as a turn-of-the-century-gentleman. He effected a style of dress and speech that was archaic for those modern times, with language so influenced by the movies and popular records. He was thin with impeccable posture and a pencil thin moustache, and he was very properly gay. Neal was shirtless and 15 when they met at the house of Justin’s uncle. Justin was impressed with young Neal’s intelligence and bearing, and arranged to get him into East High School.

East High School about 1946

Neal and Justin came to have a sexual arrangement, the details of which vary from telling to telling. This may not have been Neal’s first sexual experience with an older man, and it was not his first with an older person. Justin introduced Neal to his friends, both male and female. Despite his age, it’s hard to think of Neal as a child at this time, and no one who knew Justin, who died in 1985, has spoken a word against him. Indeed, he was eulogized in the Rocky Mountain News as one of Denver’s most distinguished educators. Nonetheless, those who point to Cassady’s alleged criminality and sociopathy should consider the lessons he learned from the cream of Denver society. Neal’s friend Chuck Wooster remembers ‘ I never knew Neal to cheat anybody. In fact, it seemed he was the one being used ‘.

          Justin Briarly is on the right. 1942

From 1942 to 1944 Neal attended school on an irregular basis, worked in Colorado and made extended trips to Los Angeles where he worked parking cars. He was arrested a couple of times on charges of auto theft, and once on suspicion of robbery. He walked away from a juvenile work camp in LA, and when captured was released to Briarly’s care, as he had been earlier, in Denver. In the summer of 1944 he was arrested in Denver when he was implicated after the fact in a series of burglaries , when stolen merchandise was found in his apartment. He served 10 months in reform school.

During his time in reform school, he wrote Justin with some regularity, and Justin wrote back and sent gifts of school newspapers and fruit and nuts at the holidays. Justin continued to work with other kids as a teacher and counselor, but also worked at getting the brightest kids scholarships to his alma matter, Columbia. Justin is to be understood as someone who took great delight in the human experience. He had a deep interest in all types of arts and culture. He took great pride in watching the kids he was close to grow and mature. He had the intuitive sense to spot not only the students who simply had good grades, but the students with passion and potential, and he found he had a knack for maneuvering through bureaucracies and finding grant and scholarship money for his most capable students. One of these was Hal Chase. Remembered as one of the brightest kids to go through East High, he’d made himself an authority on Native American culture while still in high school. He’d graduated high school in 1941, done time in the service, and upon entering Columbia, found himself rooming at the 115 Street apartment of Joan Vollmer Adams, where he shared a room with Allen Ginsberg, and met Jack Kerouac, William S Burroughs, Herbert Hunke and the other occupants and visitors of that famous apartment. He returned to Denver in the summer of 1945, and met Neal Cassady at the Denver Public Library. At this time they both knew Briarly, but they seem to have met accidentally. Hal told Neal about the New York group. When Chase returned to Columbia, he took a suite of rooms with fellow Denverite Ed White.

One of Justin Briarly’s responsibilities with the Central City Opera was to sign performers for the summer opera season, and once a year he would return to New York to do this. On these trips he would stop by Columbia and see his former students.

Chase had been telling Kerouac about Cassady, and Ed White remembers Chase thinking that Cassady would be the perfect protagonist for the kind of writing Kerouac wanted to do. He may have shown Cassady letters written by Kerouac, and it was either through Briarly or Chase that Kerouac read Neal’s reform school letters, or possibly letters to Chase, and decided he wanted to meet the writer.

Cassady meanwhile was in Denver hanging out with a second group of kids, the ones Kerouac would later dramatize into the Pederson’s poolhall gang.

It should be remembered that these were the last years of the war. America was fighting a war on two fronts, and every available man had been pressed into service. It was common for mature 15 year olds to join the armed services, and even more common for youth of that age to drop out of school and work. After more than a decade of economic depression there was suddenly an abundance of jobs, and groups that had previously been marginalised economically; women, minorities and the young found a surprising affluence. The young could even drink a special low alcohol beer at 18, a seeming acknowledgement to their new status as mature workers. Lu Anne Henderson said ‘everybody’s dad was away at war, and when you turned the corner of 16th Street (on a Saturday night) there was nobody over 21’. This group made the most of it.

This is the group that included Jimmy Holmes, the most proficient poolplayer and gambler of the bunch, who has supported himself as a gambler since then. Jimmy was the core of the group. He was friends with Al Hinkle from school, and Neal really did approach him to learn pool, like Kerouac writes, offering to teach him philosophy in return. There was also Al Hinkle, Neals longtime friend, who’s 1948 marriage to Helen prompted the famous road trip of that year, recorded in On The Road. Ed Uhl, who met Jeanne, his wife of 50 years through Neal, Bob Speak, later a court reporter in California, Shelly Emeson, later a Denver lawyer, and a big healthy kid with a bad leg from the polio epidemic named Don Fulton. Another close friend of Neal’s was jimmy penoff, who’d made trips to California with Neal. There was also Bill Tomson, the first of the group to meet Carolyn Robinson, who became Neal’s second wife. On the outskirts of the group were the big Greek brothers Bum and Buddy Maragoos, who were known to be tough, but not mean. Further on the fringes of this group, mostly by virtue of a shared age were another bunch of harder, more criminally inclined types, some who did hard time and at least one of whom was killed in prison. One observer of this group, several years younger than the rest, used to watch their antics in awe, particularly impressed with Neal’s ability with women. Later, as a teacher at East High, this person would claim this particular group was the smartest and wildest group to ever go through the school.

Morey Junior High School. Cassady didn’t go here, he went to Cole, but Al Hinkle, Jimmy Holmes, Bob Speak, Don Fulton, Jeannie Stewart, LuAnne Henderson and others did

Opportunity School.

Cassady may have been enrolled here through Justin Briarly’s efforts, but apparently never attended

Cassady was central to this group. Known as an inept gambler who used his intelligence to avoid fights, but who could perform with great prowess on any athelitic field, he worked irregularly but was central to social activities, often boosting a car or renting a moving truck he filled with mattresses to ferry the gang back and forth to parties in the mountains, to Elitche’s Gardens for dances or out to the Eastside Tracks for midget auto races.

          Bob Burford

Much has been made of Cassady’s criminality during this time, but thought this group did sometimes resort to the petty, spontaneous, and oppurtunistic crimes of young men, this was a group that was proud of their ability to compete in the adult arena of work, and many of the group were attending college as well as working.

In the spring of 1946 Cassady met and quickly married LuAnne Henderson, and desiring a fresh start, set off for Nebraska, before traveling to New York City, where they arrived in late December. They were back in Denver by spring of 1947, and Kerouac and Ginsberg followed by summer.

Kerouac stayed with Ed White, and that circle grew to include Bob Burford and his sister Beverly, as well as Chase, and would later include Frank Jeffries, another brilliant student and president of the East High class of 1942, who had shared a National Merit Scholarship with White that year in an unprecedented event. Kerouac was surprised to discover that only Chase was still on friendly terms with Cassady, and saw little of him that summer, but they were together at several all nighters at Ginsberg’s in the company of Al Hinkle, Jimmy Holmes and Bill Tomson. Ginsberg was working at the May Co, living in a basement apartment in Grant Street, and associating with Neal and his friends. After that summer Ginsberg and Cassady hitchhiked to Texas to see Burroughs and Hunke, and Kerouac went to San Francisco by bus, hoping to get work as a seaman. With Neal and Ginsberg gone, Al Hinkle went to San Fancisco where he met up with Kerouac.

          Frank Jeffries

Ginsberg and Kerouac found in Denver a group of friendly, intelligent people, both sophisticated and down to earth, that could offer the kind of companionship they thought only available in the big cities of the east. In the city itself they found all the stimulation of the east. Marijuana was readily available, as was benzedrine, there was a fine amusement park, Elitch’s, where they could smoke more or less openly, and goof off. Five Poonts, the black section of town was a thriving economic area where they could listen to jazz all night in a number of clubs and hotels. The downtown nightlife of Larimer and Curtis Streets offered all the poolhalls and cheap food and beer that Kerouac writes so lovingly of, and off on every side, the wild and romantic west. Denver still faded to desert and sagebrush on every side

          Ed White

The events of the Summer of 1947 form an important backdrop for Kerouac’s novels On The Road and Visions of Cody (which was originally an early version of On The Road), and Ginsberg drew on that period for The Green Automobile, which is arguably his first mature poem, as well as later references in Howl, The Fall of America, and his introduction to Visions of Cody; Visions of the Great Rememberer. Kerouac tried to move to Colorado with his mother in the spring of 1949, but they only stayed 7 weeks. The next summer he returned briefly to see his friends before traveling south to Mexico and Burroughs with Cassady

Beverly Burford and her brother Bob appear as characters in On The Road. Later Beverly moved to San Francisco, and maintained a friendship with Jack Kerouac his entire life. Bob went to Paris with Ed White and Frank Jeffries after graduating from Columbia. He became an editor at New Story Magazine, and encouraged other editors to read and publish Kerouac.

Hal Chase, always a bit of an introvert, doesn’t speak publicly about those times, but continues to be an inspiration to those who knew him.

Sheldon Emeson was an early friend of Neal and Jimmy, and later became a lawyer in Denver

          Beverly Burford

Lu Anne Henderson was Neal’s first wife and more than a friend to Kerouac. She’s the woman that Allen Ginsberg thought could make him go straight. She raised her daughter as a single parent and ran a successful night club. to quote Bob Speak: LuAnne Henderson. Hubba Hubba.

Al Hinkle and his wife Helen moved to San Francisco in the late 1940s and Al helped Neal get his railroad job. They were both close friends of Kerouac and Cassady until their deaths, and Helen and Carolyn Cassady were very close until Helen’s death. Carolyn dedicated her book Off The Road to Helen. Al was Libertarian Party Candidate for state senate in the 1980s

Jimmy Holmes isn’t well known outside his friends, but he’s well know to them, and his ability to support himself as a gambler and his ability to pass his high school equivelancy test with out studying is evidence of his unconforming intelligence.

Frank Jeffries traveled to Europe with Ed White and Bob Burford, and later went to Mexico with Jack and Neal in 1950. There he met William S Burroughs, and was friendly with his group of friends. His wife, Alice typed an early version of Naked Lunch. Frank and Alice are deceased.

Bob Speak grew up in the same neighborhood as Jimmy and Jeanne. His dad owned a Powerine garage and sponsored midget racing cars, which raced at the Lakeside Raceway, where the gang liked to go. He became a court reporter in California.

Ed White suggested to Jack Kerouac that he start ‘sketching’ with words, which led to his discovery of spontaneous prose. Ed was close to Jack till his death and remained friends with Allen Ginsberg until his. Ed is a well known architect in Denver

Chuck Wooster was another early friend of Neal’s, he didn’t see Neal much during the Pederson’s days, but saw him occasionally till the mid 1940s. He became a fireman and stayed in Colorado.

Ed Uhl and his wife Jeanne were both close to Neal, and appear in On The Road. They ran into Cassady occasionally until his death, and occasionally got late night calls from Kerouac. They recently retired from cattle ranching

Kerouac writes sympathetically about this group, but not always accurately. Though Neal was central to the activities of the group, it’s wrong to separate him too far from the group. These kids were his peers. They were the ones with enough intelligence and physical stamina to keep up with him. If they broke the rules sometimes they were smart enough to stay out of, or talk themselves out of, serious trouble.

They, and the others named previously have stayed in loose contact over the years, running into each other occasionally and having a laugh over the ‘old days’. They mostly remained anonymous, not being iconoclasts like the better known beats, but they’re certainly among the best minds of their generation. They didn’t all have an agenda of truth or art or social revolution on a big scale, but their abilities to think for themselves and work for what they wanted in their own lives makes them an inspiration to anyone who sets out on that road.

And Denver, currently undergoing an information age economic boom continues to be a beautiful and cultured city.


Cassady, Neal

The First Third, revised edition

San Francisco, City Lights, 1981

Cassady, Neal and Ginsberg, Allen

As Ever, the Collected Correspondence

Berkeley, Creative Arts Book Co, 1977

Christopher, Tom

Neal Cassady, Volume One, Volume Two

Vashon, Wa, Art and Leisure, 1995, 1998

Kerouac, Jack

Selected Letters 1940 – 1946, edited by Ann Charters

New York, Penguin Books, 1996

Kerouac, Jack

Visions of Cody (tape transcripts)

New York, McGraw – Hill, 1972

McNally, Dennis

Desolate Angel, Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation and America

New York, McGraw – Hill, 1980

Miles, Barry


New York, Simon and Shuster, 1989

Nicosia, Gerald

Memory Babe

New York, Grove Press, 1983

Noel, Thomas

The City and the Saloon, Denver, 1856 – 1916

University of Nebraska Press, 1982

Noel Thomas

Denver’s Larimer Street

Denver, Historic Denver, 1982

Plummer, William

The Holy Goof

New York, Paragon House, 1990

Rhoads, Harry

Denver’s man with a camera, the Photos of…

Evergreen, Co, Cordillera Press, 1989

Woods, Harold

My Larimer Street, Past and Gone

Winona Mn, Ironwood Press 1986

In addition, the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library has newspaper archives back to the earliest days of the city, as well as extensive collections of photographs and other documents

Additional references are from the National Archives, Rocky Mountain Division, Denver School District, Denver Archdioces of the Roman Catholic Church, Denver Historical Society and personal correspondence and conversations

Thank you to James Grauerholz for informing me of the friendship between Frank Jeffries and Wm S Burroughs

All text copyright tom christopher

Original photo of Larimer Street about 1910 copyright tom christopher

Copyright 2002

revised 2014

All rights reserved