Letter from Neal Cassady to Justin Brierly, October 23, 1944

Letter from Neal Cassady to Justin Brierly, 1944

October 23, 1944
Colorado State Reformatory
Buena Vista, Colo.

Dear Justin;

At the corner of 15th & Platte streets there’s a cafe called Paul’s Place, where my brother Jack used to be bartender before he joined the army, because of this I frequented the place occasionally & consequently have a small bill run up, I believe I owe them about 3 or 4 dollars. If you happen to be in that vicinity please drop in & pay it, will you?
I see Phillip Wylie has written another book, “Night Unto Night” supposedly as good as “Generation of Vipers”. Peter Arno also has a new collection of cartoons out, “Man in a shower” its called.
They have the Harvard Classics up here, the five foot shelf of books, I’ve read about 2 feet of it, very nice, I especially enjoy Voltaire & Bacon (Francis).
The football season up here has been a flop. We started out with grand plans; the guards told us if we looked good enough we would go to Salida to play & perhaps one or two other games on the out, but no go. However, I understand the basketball team may get to play some local highschools.
Since the days are getting shorter, because of winter’s approach, we get up at 5 o’clock now, instead of 4 as we had been; banker’s hours, huh?
I’ve been here 2 months today (the 23rd), how time does fly.
Please excuse the penmanship, as I can only see out of one eye; this morning I took the cows out to pasture, but on the way they ran out of the road into the corn field. The jackass I was riding couldn’t run fast enough to head them, so I jumped off & started to tie him to a barbed wire fence so I could chase the cows on foot. Just as I had tied the reins to the wire he jerked so hard it pulled a staple out of the fence post and into my left eye. It gorged a chunk out of my eyeball, but luckily failed to hit the cornea. I may lost that eye.

Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac

B50 Note:
Allen Ginsburg wrote in his poem Howl of “N.C., secret hero of these poems”. The poem goes on to speak of those:

who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,

Neal Cassady’s earliest surviving letters were written to his benefactor, Justin Brierly, while Neal was incarcerated in the Colorado State Reformatory at the age of 18. In the letter of October 23, 1944 he speaks of “Paul’s Place” at the corner of 15th and Platte Streets in Denver. Paul’s Place is now “My Brother’s Bar”. Neal Cassady was the inspiration for the character of Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”. He went on to feature in the lives of Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson.

A video of Neal Cassady’s Denver Years is now in production. Find out more on kickstarter.

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Henry Roth House, Postscript

– by M. Thornton

We met Dianne Roth and her father Milton last year, when they stopped by our house at 5 South Fox Street, the bungalow and compound that Henry Roth had built. Dianne, Henry’s granddaughter, sent this news article that was published soon after the house was built. (Denver wanted to tax Henry Roth more than he had paid in materials for the house.)

She included some family photographs:
• Rusty, her dad’s dog, in front of the house, in the early 1930s
• A wedding picture of Henry and Mary Roth
• Henry Roth the granddad
• Mary Roth and Henry’s sister Mabel
• Henry and his granddaughter Dianne
• Three generations of Roths: Henry, Dianne, and Milton
• Milton Roth in the bathroom, which doesn’t look that much different from today.

It’s nice to get to know the builder and paterfamilias, through his family. We expect to see more of the family this summer or next, for a planned reunion.

The Roth Family in the 1930's

Henry and Mary Roth, 1908

Henry and Mary Roth Wedding Photo, 1908

Henry Roth in the Denver Post during the 1930's

B50 note: Henry Roth built the bungalow style houses in the Baker Neighborhood by hand in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The house is on the national historic register. M Thornton added this as a postscript to his original post, The Henry Roth Houses on Fox Street.

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waiting for Ray

My long time performance partner Ray Schelgunov moved away a few years ago (we were the Two Significant Guys), so I decided to make a little film about loneliness, temporality, and the ever changing urban landscape. The video was shot at the corner of 12th and Broadway in Denver on August 15th, 2010 at 8 o’clock in the morning with three cameras and some special effects.

You can watch a previous video from this series entitled “Feed The Kids

-Hugh Graham

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Brown Palace Menu, November 19, 1904

Brown Palace Dinner Menu, November 19, 1904

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Mr. Skully on Mount Prospect Cemetery

— by Brian Shearer

Mr. Skully on Mount Prospect Cemetery

B50 Note: Brian Shearer is a designer, cartoonist, and creator of Mr. Skully. As Brian mentions, the Denver Public Library has some great information on the areas cemeteries available online. Brian can be reached via email.

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