Natalie Jackson


Beat Generation Muse

Natalie Jackson met Neal Cassady in San Francisco in October, 1954. She was with Neal at the famous Six Gallery poetry reading on October 7, 1955. Natalie's crowd of friends included Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Robert LaVigne. The latter had included her, naked, in a large mural he was painting.

Neal and Natalie fell deeply in love. Of course, Neal was married to Carolyn Cassady at this time. And, Natalie, apparently, would do anything for Neal, including forging Carolyn's name on a bank document so Neal could get money.

One day, in November 1955, Neal asked Jack Kerouac to "baby sit" Natalie while he went out. Natalie was in a hysterical and paranoid state, perhaps because her forgery escapade had been discovered by Carolyn. Neal said she was scared of the police. Jack tried to apply some psycho-Buddhistic therapy to help calm her down. But to no avail.

Later that evening, after Neal had returned and Jack had left, Natalie slit her throat and ended up atop the roof of 1041 Franklin Street. A newspaper account will complete the story:

Wearing only a bathrobe and a T-shirt, [the unidentified] victim stood poised outside the railing of the narrow fire escape walkway as Officer O'Rourke lunged through a window to grab her. 'All I could do was dive through and grab,' he said. 'I got a grip on one arm and her robe just as she tried to kick loose. But I couldn't hold her. All at once I was just holding the robe...'
Natalie, age 24, had fallen three stories to her death. Neal, roused by the sirens, ran out the back way to call Carolyn.

Natalie was a passionate, complicated, casualty of the battle against conformism.

Natalie bleeds, Neal flees and the Beat vortex goes on.

Natalie Jackson

Dear N[eal]. 11:10 p.m.-- We're stimulated by pleasurable unexpected surprises, ie, I love oyu more now, but better. In the everyday...I know your body -- It's a mystery to me. I half forget about you then your body surprises mine...I know every inch, mole, blemish, hair, scar, pore yet don't think of them really (except maybe a tenderness for a favorite or outstanding one) until I see them again-- then the flash of memories, and how probably felt with my hands or touched or sensed and tasted all the feelings and your reactions to touch and the different tastes of the various parts of your body yet it excites me more than someone or something that is as yet unexplored to me. I love you N. At 5 a.m. this sounds like a label on a bottle of English lice killer or care and treatment of scabies. Is best over absinthe.
--Natalie Jackson. Letter to Neal Cassady. 1955.

Source: Carolyn Cassady. Off The Road.

1997 Dharma Beats Roster

1997 Natalie Jackson Cosmic Player Plate
Published: December 24, 1996
Updated: December 27, 2002
© 1996, 1997 by the Cosmic Baseball Association