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"Old Dean Moriarty" Found, Gravesite

In On The Road, Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady Jr.) at one point unsuccessfully go looking for Sal's father in Denver. Neal Sr. was an alcoholic that lived in Denver's flophouses until his death in 1963. Ironically, Neal Jr. had just set out from California to find his dad again and got the bad news when he arrived in Denver.

For a good history of Neal Cassady Sr. and drinking in Denver, be sure to visit Tom Christopher's page: http://www.tomchristopher.com/?op=home/Beat%20Generation/Drinking%20in%20Denver%20with%20Jack%20and%20Neal

THE SEARCH FOR THE GRAVE: I was reading Dave Moore's excellent "Neal Cassady Collected Letters, 1944-1967" when I ran across the date of Neal Sr's death and the fact that Catholic Charities of Denver took care of his body. (Catholic Charities did many services for the family in the 30's.) Knowing that, I reasonably surmised that Neal was buried in the cemetary run by the archdiocese, Mt. Olivet. I called there, gave a clerk the stats, and in a minute she had the Section, Block, Lot, and Grave!

On a sunny November day I headed to Mr. Olivet. The front desk gave me a map of the grave location and drove up the hill to it. After parking, I walked the entire block without seeing any marker for Cassady, which didn't surprise me knowing his indigent status. I phoned the office and they sent out Gustavo, who knew how to find the now-buried-under-grass marker for Lot 1, then worked his way back, sticking a screwdriver into the earth until he would hit the Lot marker. At last we were at Lot 6. He counted off the first six markers and then moved to the next row. Grave 7 had a marker. He took two strides from there and pronounced that the unmarked site was Grave 9, site of Neal Cassady Sr.! (Grave 8 also lacks a marker.)

After Gustavo left, I stood back, imagining Neal Jr. coming out here to see his father's grave with the sod replaced just days before. We don't know if he made the trip out to Wheat Ridge, probably about 45 minutes in those days from downtown Denver.

I scrounged around in my Jeep and found a yellow folder. I wrote a simple marker for Neal on it, figuring that it would probably remain until next spring's first lawn mowing. For some reason, I had a steel tent peg in the car and I used it to stick the memorial to the earth.

If you go to visit the site: Mt. Olivet Cemetary is at 12801 W. 44th Ave, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033. It is essentially where I-70 turns southward in the NW Denver suburbs. Their phone number is 303-424-7785. They close at 5:30PM in the summer, 6PM in the winter. Neal's site is Section 26, Block 5, Lot 6, Grave 9. Once at the correct Section and Block, looking east, count back nine rows and then step north three paces (assuming you are on the sout side of the Block.) Neal's site is one grave south of Maria C. Lopez. High tech GPS version: N 39.78387, W105.14188 That will put you within a 15' circle of error.

Neal Sr.'s wife Maude and her first husband James Daly are also buried in Mt. Olivet.

If you haven't already done so, please visit my other Beat photo sites:
Denver Beat Tour: http://www.pbase.com/pzo/beat_tour
Kerouac Longmont Gas Station: http://www.pbase.com/pzo/kerouac_gas_station_longmontco
Kerouac's Last House in St. Pete, FL: http://www.pbase.com/pzo/jacks_house

NEW! Check out my Beat Tour using Google Earth or Google maps: http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showthreaded.php/Cat/0/Number/696545/an/0/page/0#696545
Section 26, Block 5
Section 26, Block 5
Lot 6, Grave 9
Lot 6, Grave 9
Memorial Placed
Memorial Placed
Memorial Close up
Memorial Close up
Neal Sr. on left, 1962
Neal Sr. on left, 1962
Mt. Olivet Map.jpg
Mt. Olivet Map.jpg