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East of Eden

My Alphabe Thursday theme—Places I've Been

East of Eden is about 28 miles away from where we live in Hollister. We first drive west and then south to get there. I'm sure that the above photo clues you into the fact that the East of Eden about which I'm talking is where John Steinbeck based his novel and several other novels and short stories. Namely, Salinas and Salinas Valley.

Salinas is where Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902. The house on Central Avenue where he was born and lived until he was a young man is today a restaurant. Unfortunately, the day the Husband and I visited the National Steinbeck Center, a couple blocks away, the restaurant was closed. That didn't stop us from walking over to the Steinbeck House and take a look around.


Have you ever read East of Eden? It's an amazing story. Very powerful and rich in detail. The screenplay for the TV mini-series with Jane Seymour follows the novel's line more than the 1950s movie with James Dean. Seymour's evil portrayal of the twins' mother was pretty close to how Steinbeck characterized her.

Here's what the interior looked like through the front door window

East of Eden was published in 1952. I wonder how it was received in Salinas. Many of his novels didn't sit well with the people of the area, especially those written in the 1930s, such as the Grapes of Wrath. My understanding was the locals hissed and dissed Steinbeck. Not so, today. The fact that Steinbeck is from the area is one of the big marketing points for tourism. Of course.

According to the sign on the porch, Steinbeck wrote his first short stories
and his novels Tortilla Flat and The Red Pony in the upstairs room.

After living in the area 12 years, the Husband and I finally visited the National Steinbeck Center in March. I had been lukewarm about seeing it because I didn't care for the way Salinas treated Steinbeck. The museum did a very good job presenting Steinbeck's life and literary work. It even displayed the camper truck in which he and his dog Charley traveled.

Instead of showing photos of the museum's displays, I'm giving you landscapes of Salinas, views which are no different from when Steinbeck roamed the area.

A view of Salinas Valley from the north. It's taken from San Juan Grade Road,
which Steinbeck and his family would've driven to visit his grandparents in Hollister.


 

 

It's Alphabe Thursday with the lovely Jenny Matlock. To read what other bloggers have written about the letter E, please click here.


Comments

  1. Oh I love this house! What a beautiful home. At least, now, they respect his works. I have not read the book and want to one day. I have seen the 50's film with James Dean and I have seen the mini series with Jane Seymour. I think the mini series is superior and she was brilliant in it. Love all your photos

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    1. Thanks, Birgit. I want to go back and have lunch at Steinbeck House and imagine lad Steinbeck wandering about the room. I got a thrill just sitting on the porch that afternoon.

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  2. Oh, to live in a house like that! It's beautiful. I have seen the James Dean movie but not the mini series... I'll have to look around and see if I can find it.

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    1. Me, too. I'd like to live in a house like that, except a smaller version. I'm no longer thrilled about climbing up and down stairs.

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  3. Reading Steinbecks books was a pleasant experience. I also liked travels with Charlie. BUT that house..... that is the kind/style house I love. I really do love the old houses better than new ones. I guess one can tell by, where and how i live. My husband liked the new so I've also lived in newer buildings and the squarishness of modern bores me silly. What fun it would be to visit JS house. Too bad you couldn't get in. I bet you almost wanted to break the door down. Haha
    I live on the fringe demarcation line of the old mansions from the gold rush days here. It's fun to look at those houses but I'd hate the upkeep on something that large and too many ghosts for when I had to be there alone. I have enough ghosts in this house. Last night Puss's eyes were wide and large and she was looking at something just past me.I'd never seen her do that before. I couldn't see anything, not even a bug on the wall. I figured it was a ghost. Cats seem to have that ability.

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    1. Hi, Manzi! Yeah, I was peeking through all the windows that I could reach. The Husband and I sat a long spell on the porch.

      My dream house would have a wrap-around porch, window seats, wooden floors, french doors, windows that open, built-in bookshelves, pot-bellied stove for a fireplace, gas stove, and a swimming pool. The house can be old or modern (not too modern), and small. I don't want to have dust and vacuum my life away. I don't do too well with ghosts and the idea of ghosts. As it is, now and then, if I glance a certain way I think I see something in this house. The Mama bought it new so I can't see how there would be ghosts unless they are of deceased relatives and friends who have visited here. Or, maybe it's just deja vu.

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  4. What a beautiful area. I'm glad you got to visit the Steinbeck Center. Such a pretty old house.

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    1. It's only taking me 60 years to finally explore Salinas Valley. lol

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  5. I guess the difference between 'famous' and 'infamous' is simply the passage of enough time.

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    1. It must be. The museum had one room dedicated to the Salinas newspaper issue of a big-time anniversary for the rodeo, which was honoring Steinbeck that year (early 1960s). It showed clippings of stories about Steinbeck interspersed with full-page advertisements from local merchants saying best wishes to the Rodeo with a slogan around one of Steinbeck's books. The locals had invited Steinbeck but he was unable to attend. I think he'd just come out of the hospital. Steinbeck wrote a long letter to the organizers thanking them for thinking of him and feeling very honored that they have. Interestingly, it was signed by his assistant, who wrote both his and her name. At the bottom of the letter, it said the letter was dictated by Steinbeck. I suppose Steinbeck wasn't strong enough to sign it. But, I couldn't help thinking that it was revenge on his part not to sign it. haha

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  6. Really enjoyed your blog this week....read all the comments too♪ http://lauriekazmierczak.com/el-paso/

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  7. Nice post! My spouse is a Steinbeck fan and visited the house years ago but it was not open that day.

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    1. Thanks, Laurie. If he hasn't been to the National Steinbeck Center yet, he'll have a field day there. The curators did a really great job with the exhibits on Steinbeck's life and his works.

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  8. I have never read this book, but your pictures are beautiful !

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  9. Really lovely house and view. I haven't read the story book but will check it out.

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    1. East of Eden will also give you an idea of what California was like before WWII. Hope you enjoy the novel.

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  10. This makes me want to read Steinbeck again! Love the house and the valley. thanks for sharing!

    Linda

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    1. You're welcome. I felt the same way after visiting the center and sitting on Steinbeck's porch.

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  11. Grapes of Wrath is my favorite book (period ... Not just favorite Steinbeck ). But I don't love East Of Eden. Too much evil . (I can handle sad and scary and a little cruelty, but Eden is just unrelenting). I loved that you visited here and I'd love to go in person ... Even tho I've heard the same things about how they felt about him... I guess he must have had time to know he got the best revenge though!

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    1. Sallie, you said it -- about Steinbeck getting the best revenge by doing so well with his work and going further than the Salinas of his time.

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  12. Too bad the restaurant wasn't open. I'm a big fan of Steinbeck and agree with you about how the town treated him.

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  13. I always find it fascinating to visit places where literary works of art happened.

    My biggest thrill over the years was following part of the "Little House" trek...to stand on prairie like those cast forever into written word was breathtaking for me.

    Thanks for sharing this excellent post for the letter E.

    I'm sorry the restaurant was closed but I hope you get to go again soon!

    A+

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Thanks for the good cheer. :-)

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