Tag Archives: john steinbeck

COOL PEOPLE – Rare Steinbeck WWII story finally published

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Rare Steinbeck WWII story finally published

Associated Press

FILE - In an undated file photo, American author John Steinbeck, takes a rest from work on a new novel. A rare Steinbeck WWII story titled "With Your Wings," an inspirational story about a black pilot that Steinbeck wrote for Orson Welles' radio program, and then seemed to disappear, is getting a second release. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan-based quarterly The Strand Magazine, features it in The Strand's holiday issue, which comes out Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (AP Photo. File)
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FILE – In an undated file photo, American author John Steinbeck, takes a rest from work on a new novel. A rare Steinbeck WWII story titled “With Your Wings,” an inspirational story about a black pilot that Steinbeck wrote for Orson Welles’ radio program, and then seemed to disappear, is getting a second release. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan-based quarterly The Strand Magazine, features it in The Strand’s holiday issue, which comes out Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (AP Photo. File)
 NEW YORK (AP) — In July 1944, Orson Welles wrapped up one of his wartime radio broadcasts with a brief, emotional reading of one of the country’s favorite authors, John Steinbeck.
The piece was titled “With Your Wings,” an inspirational story about a black pilot that Steinbeck wrote for Welles’ program, and it seemed to disappear almost as soon as it was aired. There are no records of “With Your Wings” appearing in book or magazine form. Even some Steinbeck experts, including scholar Susan Shillinglaw and antiquarian James Dourgarian, know little about it.

“It doesn’t ring a bell at all,” said Dourgarian, who specializes in selling first editions of Steinbeck’s work. “And that’s saying something if I haven’t heard of it. It’s also surprising because you would think that anything Steinbeck was involved with would be printed some place.”

But 70 years after Welles’ introduction in the midst of World War II, “With Your Wings” is getting a second release. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Birmingham, Michigan-based quarterly The Strand Magazine, came upon the transcript recently while looking through archives at the University of Texas at Austin. He features it in The Strand’s holiday issue, which comes out Friday.

Steinbeck, who died in 1968, wrote often about social injustice and on occasion featured black characters, notably Crooks in his classic novella “Of Mice and Men.” Gulli, whose magazine specializes in reissuing obscure works by famous writers, said in a recent email that “With Your Wings” was characteristic of the Nobel laureate’s worldview.

“Steinbeck was an idealist. He saw America as this wonderful land with so much to offer but on the flip side, he could see inequality, he could see greed and excess destroying the working classes,” Gulli wrote. “This story strikes me as an effort to show middle America that African-Americans were carrying on a huge burden in defending the United States and the allies during the war.”

An avid supporter of the war, Steinbeck worked overseas as a correspondent in the 1940s and, according to biographer Robert DeMott, wrote a favorable book about the Air Force called “Bombs Away!” Dourgarian noted that Steinbeck had favored “unusual” stories instead of describing the daily briefings from military officials.

“With Your Wings” at first reads like a standard narrative of a veteran’s return, a plot used by everyone from Homer to Ernest Hemingway. Second Lieutenant William Thatcher has completed his training and at a farewell ceremony receives silver wings, pinned to his chest. He climbs into his “clattering” Model-A Ford and sets out for an unidentified hometown. He appears to be greeted as a hero, or at least a celebrity, passing “crowded porches” and children “washed and dressed in their best and starchiest clothes, hairs bursting with ribbons.”

“He could hear the rustle as the neighbors moved silently near and formed a half circle behind him,” Steinbeck writes. “It was as though his own people were sitting in judgment on him.”

Thatcher’s sense of obligation is made more clear and powerful when Steinbeck reveals that he is black, at a time the military was segregated.

“He took off his cap with the gold eagle on it and held it in his hand. He saw his tall father lick his lips. And then his father said softly, ‘Son, every black man in the world is going to fly with your wings,'” Steinbeck writes.

“His heart was pounding. He could hear a little quiet murmur of voices in front of the house. He knew they were going to sing in a moment. And he knew now what he was to them.”

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Online link: http://www.strandmag.com .

COOL PEOPLE – JOHN STEINBECK AND CANNERY ROW

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CHAPTER 1 CANNERY ROW

John Steinbeck is one of the best-known and most revered American literary figures. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Grapes of Wrath (1939), highlighting the lives of migrant farm workers in the Salinas Valley, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Seventeen of his works, including Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1955), were made into Hollywood movies.

Best Of Cannery Row

book94

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

 Uploaded on May 5, 2010

John Steinbeck On Why ‘Camping Is For The Birds’ published May 1967, Popular Science

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John Steinbeck On Why ‘Camping Is For The Birds’

In the May 1967 issue of Popular Science, John Steinbeck argued that “the American passion for moving about in motorized caravans… results in little permanent damage beyond divorce and bankruptcy.”

Rose Pastore

Salvaging Steinbeck’s Vessel From a Little-Known Berth

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Salvaging Steinbeck’s Vessel From a Little-Known Berth

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The Western Flyer in Port Townsend, Wash. The boat’s owner plans to move it to Salinas, Calif., but a nonprofit group wants it in Monterey Bay. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times
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PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — A wooden fishing boat that John Steinbeck chartered in 1940 with a biologist friend, then wrote about in a story of their journey through the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, sits in sad, decaying splendor in a boatyard here, two hours northwest of Seattle.

People have come from as far away as Liverpool, England, to see the vessel, named the Western Flyer, in the eight months since it arrived. There is no exhibit, no effort to market the ship as an attraction, or even point the way so people can easily find it, blocked and braced out of the water at the back of the yard. Mud covers the portholes from its two sinkings and resurrections. The brass doorknobs are corroded to green, and the upper rail buckles inward with rot and age.

“We get a couple of people a week, and we give them directions — it’s pretty low key,” said Anna Quinn, an owner of Imprint Bookstore, a downtown shop that sells a few copies a week of the book that resulted from Steinbeck’s trip, “The Log From the Sea of Cortez.”

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John Steinbeck featured the wooden fishing boat in “The Log From the Sea of Cortez,” sold in Port Townsend at Imprint Bookstore. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

“They just want to see and touch it and be in the literary aura,” Ms. Quinn said.

A final chapter for the Western Flyer may be about to unfold. And there are fierce disagreements about how — and where — its tale of fleeting celebrity and ignominious decay should end.

The boat’s owner, Gerry Kehoe, a California businessman, said he planned to collect his property within the next couple of months. The 76-foot-long vessel, he said, will be cut into two or three pieces and trucked to Salinas, Calif., where Steinbeck was born, then reassembled and installed as the centerpiece — with real water and a dock — in the lobby of a boutique hotel Mr. Kehoe is developing.

The hotel, with two restaurants surrounding the boat and glass panels telling the story of the voyage, will open in the summer of 2015 with Western Flyer in the name, he said in a telephone interview.

The nephew of the Western Flyer’s skipper in 1940 has been ferociously critical of Mr. Kehoe’s plan. He says the boat belongs in Monterey, where it worked in Steinbeck’s day as a sardine fisher, and deserves better in retirement.

“He talks a good game, but he really doesn’t know what he’s doing — he doesn’t have a clue,” said Robert Enea, whose uncle, Tony Berry, piloted the voyage by Steinbeck and the biologist, E. F. Ricketts.

Mr. Enea, a retired physical education teacher, led a nonprofit group called the Western Flyer Project that he said had raised $10,000 and was trying to buy the boat in 2010 for $45,000 when Mr. Kehoe got it instead. The group, Mr. Enea said, envisioned a mission of environmental education in Monterey Bay, echoing and honoring the Cortez trip.

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Peter and Anna Quinn, owners of Imprint Bookstore. “We get a couple of people a week, and we give them directions — it’s pretty low key,” Ms. Quinn said of visitors seeking the boat. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

Mr. Kehoe said the Flyer Project lacked resources to save or restore anything — not least a boat built in 1937 that would take “well into the seven figures” to be made seaworthy. And, he added, striking a note that Steinbeck himself might have savored as a champion of the underdog, the economically struggling town Salinas simply deserves the Western Flyer more than wealthy, flourishing Monterey.

“Does everybody want the rich to be richer?” Mr. Kehoe said, adding that access to the boat will be free. Salinas, he said, “doesn’t have a lot going for it, to be honest with you, but it is the birthplace of the great man.”

Literary tourism is a big business, in the bits of a writer’s life that get left around in the messy business of living, or the characters that came to life on the page. From Key West, Fla.,visitors can swill rum in honor of Hemingway, to Dickens World, a theme park in England that offers a re-creation of bleak and stinky Victorian London, writers are still earning their keep.

Here on Washington’s rainy Olympic Peninsula, setting of the hugely successful teen-vampire-romance “Twilight” novels by Stephenie Meyer, Steinbeck is small potatoes anyway. In Forks, which the heroine, Bella Swan, called home and is two hours west of Port Townsend, visitors can stay in one of the Twilight Rooms at the Pacific Inn Motel, or eat a Bella’s Barbecue Burger Dip at the Forks Coffee Shop.

Some who have come to see the Western Flyer pay homage to science. The six-week, 4,000-mile research trip in 1940 to study plants and animals formed a template for thinking and writing about ecology decades before the modern environmental movement, said Ian Hinkle, a Canadian filmmaker who came to shoot in January for a documentary on the Salish Sea called “Reaching Blue.”

“That boat was the inspiration for many ocean researchers and ecologists today,” he said. “Now it’s sitting in a boatyard, just sitting there, one more big old rotting piece of broken dreams.”

But perhaps for at least part of the summer tourism season in Port Townsend that began this weekend, the Western Flyer is going nowhere. Ms. Quinn, who owns Imprint Books with her husband, Peter, said they were hoping to do some Steinbeck readings this summer, with people gathering at the boatyard.

Steinbeck himself, in “The Log From the Sea of Cortez,” said he believed the bond of boats and people ran too deep to sever. “It is very easy to see why the Viking wished his body to sail away in an unmanned ship, for neither could exist without the other,” he wrote.