A few miles from Monterey is Salinas which has fame from its days during the depression and is now surrounded by enormous fields tended to by large machines and lots of immigrant labour.
Whilst the outskirts of the town are quite horrible, the old inner core remains reasonably untouched and there has
been at attempt to give it a new life as a tourist / night life quarter
There are three old cinemas in the street and their art deco style is obvious and is reflected in the tiles decorating the building.
This shop seems not to have changed its window display since the 1930’s.
Some have been modernised a little unsympathetically
whilst others look unchanged other than
having had a good re-decoration.
The John Steinbeck Centre has been created at the end of the street and is totally out of keeping with the buildings around it.
Inside they show a film about his life and a less than interesting film about vegetable growing (although you will know that the area produces 70% of the nation’s lettuce when you have watched the film).
There is also a rather good exhibition hall about his life and works and the time in which they were set – good means you have to work at reading the information about the exhibits.
There are also some of the original handwritten drafts of his books
numerous cinema posters of the films made of the books
and copies of newspaper articles which were vehemently
against him and his writing – so strongly written in fact that he stopped writing novels.
His writing did however have the effect of getting Eleanor Roosevelt to come to the area to see how bad the living conditions of the workers were, much to the annoyance of the farmers.
A few blocks away is the house within which he was born –
this is now a restaurant open 6 days a week. The front door
was open when we pulled up outside and so we nipped inside and took a few photographs without anyone noticing.
And as we drive east towards Yosemite, one of those
classic road trip pictures appears ahead of us – a long straight stretch of black tarmac with nothing else in sight.