CHAPTER 1 CANNERY ROW
Best Of Cannery Row
Monterey County Beginnings
Steinbeck was born about 30 miles from Cannery Row in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and attended Stanford University, about 90 miles north of the Monterey Peninsula. He married his first wife, Carol Henning, in 1930. They lived in Pacific Grove next to Cannery Row, where much of the material for his books was gathered.
Cannery Row Characters
Steinbeck’s strong personal attachment to Monterey was perhaps inevitable. Living in Pacific Grove, in a house owned by his father, Steinbeck wrote stories spiced with the vibrant tales of cannery workers and roughnecks he knew.
Cannery Row ignited Steinbeck’s imagination and his affection for the colorful mix of people there influenced a number of stories and characters. Tortilla Flat (1935) received the California Commonwealth Club’s Gold Medal for best novel by a California author and marked a turning point in Steinbeck’s career.
Cannery Row (1945), one of Steinbeck’s best and most widely read fictional works, immortalized Cannery Row as a one-of-a-kind neighborhood of fish packing plants, bordellos, and flophouses, and made it the most famous street in America. Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row, was published in 1954.
Steinbeck & Ed Ricketts
In 1930 Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts, an accomplished marine biologist who operated the Pacific Biological Laboratory at 800 Cannery Row. Ricketts was the inspiration for the character ‘Doc’ in Cannery Row, although he wasn’t called Doc in real life. Ricketts brought Steinbeck along on his outdoor adventures studying the biological mysteries of the “Great Tidal Pool” near Asilomar Beach, and on a voyage to the Sea of Cortez.
In 1948 Ed Ricketts was hit by a train after his Buick stalled on the tracks near Cannery Row. Today, the location of the train accident is memorialized with a bust of Ricketts at the street corner adjacent to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.
Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968, in New York City. His ashes were placed in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas.
For more information about John Steinbeck’s life and work, visit the National Steinbeck Center.
FROM CANNERY ROW (1982) – FORGOTTEN TREASURE
It’s a moment of extreme cognitive dissonance when the most patriotic thing you have ever seen in your American life is actually super-French.
A video featuring GoPro footage shot by an #eagle (!!!) soared to the top of Reddit’s video page recently, delighting all who laid eyes upon it. Before anyone watching has the opportunity to shed a tear for the purple mountain’s majesty, etc., though, a caption on the video mentions that this was shot in the Chamonix valley of #France’s Mer de Glace. Is it animal abuse to weigh down such a majestic creature by strapping a camera to it? Considering how gracefully this winged treasure swoops around this scenic tableau, the answer is no.
After watching a few times, reminisce over the time that dog directed a music video with the very same model camera here.
cat helps wash the dishes
CLICK FOR VIDEO BELOW
A short documentary about David Welsford, who has given up the luxuries of land in search for happiness and adventure on a 50 year old wooden boat he restored from a scrap heap. Featuring music from Bahamas, Acres & Acres and Ben Howard!
Director & Cinematographer: Kevin A Fraser kevinAfraser.com
Featuring & Additional Photography: David Welsford TwentyEightFeet.com
Editor: Shawn Beckwith postbeckwith.com
Colorist: Chris MacIntosh vimeo.com/55644436
CLICK BELOW FOR A 1970 VIDEO ON THE SUNSET STRIP
CLICK BELOW FOR SUNSET STRIP IN 1964 VIDEO
If you were going to drive into the city from Woodland Hills it meant you were “going over the hill”. Whether it be Hollywood or Westwood or even San Diego – it was “over the hill”. And you never went “over the hill” unless you had a real purpose. You’d think we were living on the Ponderosa and had to pack saddlebacks to ride into town for vittles.
But there was a new attraction that the kids were buzzing about. The Sunset Strip. In the 40s and 50s this stretch of Sunset Blvd. between Beverly Hills and Hollywood was nightclub row. Sinatra played there. Sammy played there. Dino even had his own club. These hot spots featured dance floors and palm trees and exotic names like the Macambo, the Trocadero, Casa Manana, and Ciro’s. I was never actually in one of these nightclubs but there were several Looney Tunes that spoofed them so I had a pretty good idea of what went on there thanks to Bugs Bunny.
Now the clubs were starting to cater to young people. Whisky A Go Go led the charge. Some say it was because of the location, others say popular singer Johnny Rivers was the big draw but I contend it was the hot girls in mini skirts dancing in suspended cages that attracted the crowds. Rock groups would stagger down from Laurel Canyon to perform. The Byrds, the Doors (in matching suits), the Seeds, Buffalo Springfield, Love, and even the great Captain Beefheart performed in clubs like Gazzari’s, London Fog, and Pandora’s Box. They weren’t content to just do cover versions of popular songs or pale imitations of current styles. No sir. They examined their roots, experimented, challenged themselves to become artists in the true sense of the word. Their music was new and exciting and groundbreaking. God, the women these assholes must’ve gotten.
There were also a few clubs that catered to teenagers. They didn’t serve alcohol so you didn’t have to be 21. The downside was forfeiting the lucrative bar income. The upside was there were ten million teenagers under the age of 21. And club owners could still charge two bucks for a Coke. The Trip and It’s Boss were the two top teen clubs.
My 17 year old cousin Craig was visiting from Louisville. So for two weeks I had a chauffeur. One night we cruised down the Sunset Strip. We must’ve looked like the Clampett family gawking at all the activity. We were lucky and found a parking space only a mile up the hill from the strip, so we headed down to “check out the scene”. Who’s hipper than a fifteen year-old who still draws comics and a kid from Kentucky?
People were just hanging out, standing around, and many of them were smoking. I didn’t know what but the smell was weird and unlike anything I had experienced. You never forget your first second-hand smoke reefer.
The clubs were so crowded with such long lines that we decided to just bag it. Too much of a hassle. I’d just wait until the Looney Tunes cartoon.
Pandora’s Box was a teen club the size of an outhouse perched on a triangular traffic island on the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights. Crowds became too large and were snarling traffic at that large intersection. So cops tried to enforce a 10 p.m. curfew (good luck) and later just close the club. This resulted in a protest rally – a mob of mostly clean-cut teenagers and twentysomethings wearing pullover sweaters and miniskirts. Police broke it up, a riot resulted, and observer Stephen Stills wrote the song “For What It’s Worth” about the incident. A month later Sonny & Cher performed at Pandora’s Box but not without dire consequences. They were kicked off a Rose Parade float. It’s amazing Sonny Bono ever got elected to public office with that stain on his record.
I was not part of that riot. But I did buy the record.