This is the mural across the street from the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. As mentioned in Wednesday’s column, I pulled off the 101 on a whim to visit the museum in Salinas, the city where the author was born and raised. Admission was a reasonable $10.95.
The center opened in 1998 and its 37,000 square feet house exhibits, a gift shop and archives.
Among the items on display are childhood books and the truck, Rocinante, in which Steinbeck and his dog explored America for the tome “Travels With Charley.” Film clips play continuously from “Of Mice and Men,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden.”
Explanatory text explains the genesis of various books, especially “Grapes,” and the political climate that inspired it. The gift shop has copies of every Steinbeck book as well as videos, T-shirts and other stuff. I bought “The Short Novels,” comprising six books, including “The Moon is Down,” which sounded intriguing based on the museum display.
Two blocks away lies Steinbeck’s childhood home, restored and housing exhibits, a restaurant and a bookshop. Even though Steinbeck, who died in 1968, had a fractious relationship with his hometown, they’re treating him right, or cashing in, depending on how you look at it.