I’ve written in my column about the NEA-affiliated Big Read drives in Pomona and Rancho Cucamonga and the independent On the Same Page drive in Claremont, in which residents were urged to read “Bless Me, Ultima,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Cannery Row,” respectively.
I finished “Mockingbird” on my lunch break Thursday, completing the trifecta.
(My favorite line is the first sentence of Chapter 10, the daughter saying of her father: “Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty.”)
Tuesday I heard Steinbeck scholar Robert Morsberger speak at the Claremont Library, the final event in the “Cannery Row” series. Morsberger named “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Cannery Row” and “In Dubious Battle” as his Steinbeck favorites. “‘Cannery Row’ is the book I most enjoy rereading,” he said, describing it as funny and poetic. A friend, he added, says Doc is one of her favorite characters in literature.
Thursday I heard Mary Badham speak at Rancho Cucamonga’s Celebration Hall about her role as Scout in the movie version of “Mockingbird.” Badham, the sister of director John Badham, said she got the part in an audition in her native Alabama. She was honest enough to admit she was too young during filming to remember a whole lot other than Gregory Peck’s kindness and the boy actors fighting with her.
She was a real-life tomboy, so the part fit her. But she wasn’t especially interested in acting, she said, and thus didn’t do much after “Mockingbird,” although, among other things, she was in the very last “Twilight Zone” episode. As a first-timer without an agent, she didn’t get paid much for playing Scout. “I think the last residual check I got was for 89 cents,” she added. No wonder she was charging $20 for her autograph after the talk.
I already wrote about seeing Gustavo Arellano speak in Pomona about “Ultima,” which meant I went to at least one book event in each of the three cities.
But only Rancho Cucamonga put me on a poster.