Huncke Blog

Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs to Edie Parker—Letter

Previously unpublished letter from Joan Adams Burroughs to Frankie Edith Kerouac-Parker © Timothy Moran.  


                                                                                                           December 29, 1947

Dear Edie - 

                Since it's the end of the year and all, I thought I'd better get with it and write to you at last.  Every now and then for God knows how long I've started a letter, but you know that routine.  I'd appreciate, though, if you'd write sometime and tell me how things are shaping up in Detroit.  I don't even know whether you're married, or working, or even if you're in Detroit at all..

                I've really had a mad year, although now perhaps I've come to a resting point - maybe. Was it after you left (I think so) that Bill (Burroughs, of course) finally got nailed for a couple of forged prescriptions?  It was all very desperate, as he had quite a habit by that time and it was a couple of months before his case finally came up. The only way I could get him out on bail, unfortunately, was to call his psychiatrist and he promptly informed Bill's family, which led to a good deal of unpleasantness.  Finally though, in June, the damn thing came to trial, and he was lucky enough that he got a suspended sentence on condition that he go home to St. Louis for three months.  That was pretty good, of course, but it left me in rather a spot - emotionally as well as financially.

              Huncke stayed around and raised some money making parked cars for the luggage, and after a while we began taking in a few desperate characters as boarders until before long I was running quite a pad.  Everything in the damn place was hot, as were, of course, a couple of cars out front.  Inevitably, people kept going to jail until finally, due to that and also the ever present back rent, we got tossed out.  There simply wasn't an empty apartment in the city, so we bounced around from one hotel to another until Whitey, a sweet but stupid character with whom I was having a light affair at the time, blew his top and tried to lift a Howard Johnson's safe.  He was picked up immediately - so there I was looking for a job, an apartment, a lawyer for Whitey, and money for the lawyer.  I was completely broke, so I left Julie with my aunts on Long Island and stayed with a nice kid named McCarthy.  I finally got the lawyer, who was obviously no good, but Whitey insisted on having him.  In the mean time, however, I'd been taking so much benzedrine that I got way off the beam, with the result that I finally landed in Bellevue Psycho Ward.  (Just before Whitey's trial - I later learned he got 5-10 years in Sing Sing!)  Dad came down and got Julie.  Anyway, I was all clear again a couple of days, but it took me a week and a half to convince those stupid doctors that I wasn't completely mad.  Everything was timed nicely, though, because just before I got out at last, Bill got back in town. His family agreed to set him up in a small way provided he lived away from New York, so we had planned to go to Texas where he'd spend part of the Summer.  As soon as I got out of the nut-house, we drove down to the Rio Grande Valley, stayed awhile with some friends of Bill's and finally bought a nice broken-down 99 acre farm a little north of Houston.  We stayed down there for awhile, starting repairs on the house, and then headed north ten days before Christmas.  We drove to N.Y. where we stayed a few days, and then Bill went to St. Louis and I came up here to get Julie.  She and I are going back to Texas by train on January 2nd and Bill will be back down here by then.

                    This is all very vague and sketchy, but do write me back and let me have your news. Although we are not married (Bill got a divorce, but I haven't yet), make it Mrs. W.S. Burroughs, New Waverly, Texas.






Below is a short reading of an excerpt from Herbert Huncke's 'Guilty of Everything'. Herbert describes Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs & his great respect & love for her. Joan, of course, died at age 28 & has become just a footnote in somebody else's story. Huncke told me she was the smartest one of them all. I don't doubt it for a minute.  —LW