We head up the road this week to Steinbeck Country.
Mention “John Steinbeck” and people think of Cannery Row in Monterey. Or nearby Salinas, his home town, setting for The Red Pony. Or maybe Baja, for anyone who’s read the impressive nonfiction Log from the Sea of Cortez. But Steinbeck also visited squalid farm labor camps—and towns in the north state, including Gridley, Marysville, and Yuba City. Valley towns can lay serious claim to the Steinbeck legacy, in fact, though most still wouldn’t want to. The Grapes of Wrath won Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize and eventually the Nobel Prize for Literature, but at the time—and for decades to follow—the book and its author had few friends in California agriculture. But the destitute families he wrote about, the “Okies,” “Arkies,” and “Texies” who migrated to California farm fields during the 1930s, had few friends but Steinbeck.