Sunday, February 28, 2016

Surprise visit to the National Steinbeck Center

I'm currently on vacation. Literary destinations weren't a priority when planing this trip (shocking, I know), but I often have a knack for stumbling upon them.

After visiting friends in Los Angeles we headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped in Marina, CA for a couple days. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that The National Steinbeck Center is just down the road in Salinas, where John Steinbeck was born and raised. I visited the Center earlier today--February 27th--which also happens to be Steinbeck's birthday. He was born in 1902.

I'd like to read more Steinbeck. I've only read The Pearl and The Moon is Down.  I think I started Cannery Row once upon a time, but didn't finish it. Today's visit certainly motivated me to read more Steinbeck.

The National Steinbeck Center is a wonderful museum and although I don't have time to write a detailed overview of the exhibits, I wanted to share some pictures of my visit with you.
 
The front entrance.
Posing with the man.
Happy Birthday John Steinbeck ~ everybody eat some cake!
Diary of Dust Bowl migrant Lou Wagner. Apparently I am one of the few Americans of a certain age who did not read The Grapes of Wrath in high school. It is on my reading plan for 2016. Have you read it? Did you love it or hate it?
The camper Steinbeck traveled in with his poodle, Charley. Later immortalized in Travels with Charlie.
Their living space in the trailer. There's an Underwood travel typewriter on the table.
Steinbeck's passport from when he traveled to Russia in the 60s.
Re-creation of Steinbeck's writing hut and desk,
A picture of a picture of Steinbeck's desk.
Selfie with The Pearl, which I read (and loved) in 8th grade.
In 1962 Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The house where John Steinbeck was born and grew up is about three blocks from the Center. It is now a restaurant.

Visit the National Steinbeck Center online at http://www.steinbeck.org
National Steinbeck Center
One Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901

12 comments:

  1. What a great travel discovery. I read Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men in high school. I was glad to have read both, but Steinbeck didn't become a favorite author -- the stories are so very masculine.

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    1. Interesting! I hope he isn't as big a poser as Hemingway (who I love, btw, but he does seem to pour it on sometimes).

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  2. I'm not the biggest fan of Steinbeck, but it's good to see that his literary heritage will be preserved.

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    1. It's interesting, Geoff--I've yet to run into a big Steinbeck fan. People tend to scrunch their faces when he's mentioned. I wonder if it was the forced reading of The Grapes of Wrath in high school.

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  3. I've only read one Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, as an adult. Was taken aback at the amount of profanity, but would still like to read a few more from him.

    Love that you got to have this little field trip. I took one last summer to Monroeville, Alabama when Go
    Set a Watchman by Harper Lee was releasing. I had a fabulous time touring the small town that Ms. Lee grew up in.
    I'll be happy to send you the link to my blog post about my trip of you are interested.

    I loved this post.:)

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    1. Hi Darlene--I'd love to see your post!

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  4. I've only read one Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, as an adult. Was taken aback at the amount of profanity, but would still like to read a few more from him.

    Love that you got to have this little field trip. I took one last summer to Monroeville, Alabama when Go
    Set a Watchman by Harper Lee was releasing. I had a fabulous time touring the small town that Ms. Lee grew up in.
    I'll be happy to send you the link to my blog post about my trip of you are interested.

    I loved this post.:)

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  5. He's one of my faves and Cannery Row is in my top ten books. Maybe if you read it now after visiting you'll see if with different eyes. Grapes of Wrath is powerful.

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    1. That's great to hear! So many people seem not to be fans. I will try Cannery Row again. I think I was bummed because the first time I visited Cannery Row (in the 90s), it was more of a tourist area (even more so now) and I was reactionary. I'm definitely going to read The Grapes of Wrath soon.

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  6. Wonderful post! I especially love seeing the camper trailer. I was assigned to read Of Mice and Men in school at a time when I was intimidated by "classics" and was surprised that I actually understood and enjoyed it. It opened the door for me to other books and authors. Later I read Grapes of Wrath (not for school) and loved it too, but somehow I never moved on to his other books. It would be good to revisit him now.

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  7. I read East of Eden some years back and am sad to say i dont remember much about it. Family epic set in California with a "bad woman" at the center of the plot, thats about it. And the film of course with James Dean. My husband and I both read Cannery Row, he liked it more than I did. He also read Sweet Thursday (sort of sequel to Cannery Row) and listened to Travels with Charley, liked them both. Maybe its a guy thing! East of Eden is on my TBR classics list but i havent gotten to it yet, along with For Whom the Bell Tolls. Papa could be over the top! My favorites of his are early works, Sun also Rises and Farewell to Arms, maybe because the pose had not yet solidified into the mask. I started Across the River but failed about 65 pages in, the miasma of testosterone was too thick! I love the central coast of CA but havent been in years, if ever I go back I will be sure to stop at the Steinbeck Center. Steinbeck's later years were spent on eastern Long Island (possibly in Sag Harbor?) , i wonder if there is any remaining record of his time there.

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  8. Of course i meant Grapes of Wrath above that is on my TBR list, not East of Eden. Yikes! and to think I used to be a proofreader!

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