My Brother’s Bar, located at 2376 15th Street (15th and Platte), was Neal Cassady’s favorite bar. Cassady began drinking here at a relatively young age and when his penchant for stealing cars finally caught up with him, he wrote a letter to his mentor from juvenile hall asking the mentor to pay off his tab at My Brother’s Bar. The letter hangs on the back wall of the small establishment. Needless to say, Kerouac visited this favored drinking hole whenever he was in Denver. Back in those days, the bar was called “Paul’s Place.”
Confluence Park, where the Cherry Creek meets the Platte River, was another picnic location for the Beats. Neal Cassady spent a lot of time in this area and used to call this park “The Beach.”
The Roxy was another Jazz joint in Five Points where many Bebop greats played and was frequented by Jack Kerouac and the rest of the Beats.
“At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night.” - Jack Kerouac, On the Road
The Rossonian Hotel on 27th and Welton hosted many jazz greats including Billy Holiday, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole (to name a few).
Ed White, Hal Chase, and Neal Cassady introduced Kerouac to the Bop scene on Five Points which was better and bigger in Denver than Harlem or San Francisco. Big names in Jazz once played at the Casino Cabaret at 2637 Welton which is now Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom.
“I stopped at a little shack where a man sold hot red chili in paper containers; I bought some and ate it, strolling in the dark mysterious streets.” - Jack Kerouac, On the Road
The shack is still there and they still sell hot red chili.
“Down at 23rd and Welton a softball game was going on under the floodlights which also illuminated the gas tank. A great eager crowd roared at every play. The strange young heroes of all kinds, white, colored, Mexican, pure Indian, were on the field, performing with heart-breaking seriousness. Just sandlot kids in uniform[…] Near me sat an old Negro who apparently watched the games every night. Next to him was an old white bum, then a Mexican family, then some girls, some boys - all humanity, the lot. Oh, the sadness of the lights that night! The young pitcher looked just like Dean. A pretty blonde in the seats looked just like Marylou. It was the Denver Night; All I did was die.
Down in Denver, down in Denver
All I did was die.”
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road.
To do it justice, we decided to revisit Sonny Lawson Field at night.
“Carlo’s basement appartment was on Grant Street in an old red-brick rooming house near a church. You went down an alley, down some stone steps, opened an old raw door, and went through a kind of cellar till you came to his board door.” Jack, On the Road.
Carolyn Robinson lived upstairs and Allen Ginsberg was in the basement. The gang would cool down over drinks in Charlie Brown’s after long Benzedrine sessions.
Neal Cassady attended East High school (but never graduated). At first we didn’t think the historic school would make it on the list but we did come across a letter in which Jack mentions attending a luncheon at the school on June 10, 1949 with an English teacher, Justin Brierly. So Jack was, indeed, here.
While he lived on West Center in Lakewood, Jack Kerouac frequented Hart’s Corner bar on Mississippi and Sheridan. He wrote a few letters at this establishment.
Jack lived for two or three months in the summer of 1949 at 6100 West Center St. in Lakewood, Colorado. He used a $1,000 advance from his publisher on The Town and the City to pay for the house which he hoped to share with his mother, sister, and brother in law. His mother lived there for a month before returning to New York. Jack returned to San Fransisco in July of that year.
While Jack Kerouac lived in Lakewood, Colorado in 1949, he befriended a local boy and took him to Lakeside Amusement park on several occasions. A cop was doing a traffic stop about half a block from the entrance to the park, so I had to spray a little further out of sight.
Berkeley lake was another prime picnic location for the Beats. Jack would sometimes walk the path around the lake alone.