Cathy Cassady shares her mother’s story

On Monday, Sept. 23, Cathy Cassady, the oldest daughter of Neal and Carolyn Cassady, visited SVSU to give a lecture at Founders Hall.

Cathy Cassady spoke about the untold story of her mother who was married to Neal Cassady, a man who became famous for driving a psychedelic bus across the country in the ‘60s.

“Part of what I’m doing is just trying to understand Mom and have others understand her,” Cassady said. “She spent a lot of time trying to understand herself. She wondered a lot about the meaning of life.”

Cassady is working on publishing her mothers work, including poems, journal entries and a memoir, “Off the Road.”

“(My mother) wanted to set the record straight (about Neal),” she said. “She also worked for a newspaper for a time and is familiar with all the different types of publications and articles. She was a fan of publishing.”

Carolyn Cassady’s memoir “Off the Road” gives insight into how hard it was for her family while Neal was off traveling the country.

“The ‘60s were the time in our family that were the hardest; my father was letting the drugs take over him,” her daughter said. “Everyone who survived the ‘50s era became a hippie.”

Neal Cassady spent much his life addicted to drugs and died at the age of 41 in 1986. After his death, his wife struggled to find herself.

“The only reason anyone was interested in (Carolyn) was because she was married to Neal Cassady,” their daughter said.

Cassady hopes to continue to share her Mom’s story and keep her legacy alive.

“I really found it interesting when people asked if I thought mom would have wanted her story told … and I decided yes.” Cathy said. “She probably wrote all of these details so she would be published and recognized.”

Assistant Professor of English Geoffrey Carter organized the lecture after reading Carolyn Cassady’s memoir.

“I was inspired by her mother’s memoir that gave an alternative history to Kerouac’s great novel,” Carter said. “I contacted the Cassady Estate … and Cathy expressed an interest in visiting sites important to her mother to complement the writing she was publishing.”

Carter said he enjoyed the lecture, which brought a unique viewpoint to the campus community.

“The lecture showcased SVSU’s continued investment in allowing a diverse range of voices to be heard,” Carter said. “I also think it bolstered SVSU’s reputation in supporting the humanities and women’s studies.”

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