A Letter From Carolyn Cassady
Last May, I was doing some research and found out that Carolyn Cassady, wife of Neal Cassady of Beat writer fame, was living in England. As is my wont, I wrote her a note, told her how much I enjoyed her book and other stuff (I was reading Kerouac’s “Big Sur” at the time). Today, from Jason Johnson, I learned she passed away. This is the note I rec’d, which gives you some indication of the kind of person she must have been. I wrote her back, but never heard from her again.
Hi, Lars—I did so enjoy your thoughtful letter, thanks. Now, of course, since you know all about me (well, almost) I would like to know about you! I think people are so fascinating—no two alike, ha. So, would you mind telling me where you live and what you do? I suspect you write, or should.
Yes, since moving here I was surprised that everyone seems to think California—or Florida—(ugh, the humidity!) is the land where dreams come true. I’m afraid I find the USA pretty boring, except for the cowboys and Indians, but the history is just one war after another. And we had to study it in school, whereas Europe was an unknown entity. Here I was enthralled with all the history and that of Europe—from whence we came. In MY grammar school we did get some European history (“1066 and all that”), and geography, but when my kids went to school—no more. The treatment of the native Indians s digrace. I brought my daughter on a tour of Europe and Britain, and she had no idea if Portugal —where we landed—was north/south, anywhere. And no foreign languges unless sought. In Sweden they begin learning English when they’re five years old. I took four years of French in high school, but unless you have to think in the language, it doesn’t take. Whenever I’ve gone to Paris or France, I’m not literate other than the oui and non. I can understand some but not speak. Ah well, my traveling days are over. But I do prefer Europe to the USA. Some interesting scenery, true, but they seem so arrogant and”special”. Enough.
Your name sounds Scandanavian, right? I have quite a connection with Sweden, having close friends in Stockholm. Then a bookshop owner who live in the northern-most town of Upsalla,(sp?) had me paint portraits of his three sons. I spent a weekend at his home and got a great tour of the ancient area. I’ve been to Sweden a lot, toured the south and west coasts at literary festivals with a friend, visited Stockhom a lot and visited Copenhagen. (Ah, the little mermaid!) I was given the VIP treatment when the largest publisher published a translation of my book and invited me there to launch it. I have a close girl friend who used to visit me often, but she and a friend made an awful film of me, so relations have become somewhat strained.
I would love to hear more about you.