WPC Reward: The longevity of author John Steinbeck – photos from his hometown

Yesterday. February 27, was the author John Steinbeck’s birthday (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) — a good occasion to post my Oldtown Salinas photos and submit my 2nd WordPress Photo Challenge on the theme of Reward, for the reward of longevity.

Longevity: long life – the fact of living for many years – length of life – the length of time that something or someone lasts or continues (Definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Story of the whole valley web

Steinbeck’s words carved into stone at entrance of National Steinbeck Center

Among the rewards for a life well-lived is physical longevity and what is left, well after death.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, Monterey County, California.  He wrote 27 books and won both a Pulitzer and the National Book Award for his novel, The Grapes of Wrath.  He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 (controversial at the time) for “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”  and “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception”.

Salinas is the largest city in Monterey County, and the county seat.  It has a population of 155,000 and is located 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The mild weather and rich valley soil is why the area is called “the salad bowl of the world”.  It is the only county in the United States that produces more than $1 billion annually in vegetable sales.

Salinas Valley Fields web

This was taken last week…really! The weather is so mild here, that there is something growing in the fields most of the time.


Much of Steinbeck’s writing is set in Southern and Central California, particularly the Salinas Valley and the Central California Coast.

The photos below are from “Old Town” Salinas, location of the National Steinbeck Center.  The house where John Steinbeck was born is a few blocks away from Oldtown. 

Steinbeck Center

Buildings in the Victorian style of architecture dot the old town Salinas downtown area.

Here are some examples of the buildings, walking out from the National Steinbeck Center…

Old Salinas buildings 5 web

Some of the building details in Oldtown…

And some interesting tile work on a few of the entryways…

And finally, some scenes from  the stores and restaurants in Oldtown…

Steinbeck Statue at Salinas Library web


The old town Salinas library is a few blocks away and is named after John Steinbeck.

There is another of the rock (like the one in front of the Steinbeck Center) carved with his quote, outside the library…


Books Best Friend Quote web

In addition to tips learned on the WordPress Photo Challenges, these series of photos were also inspired by Cardinal Guzman’s new photo challenge The Changing Seasons “to train your eye”.

This is my first attempt at taking a series of photos of one place, and it certainly made me look up/down and check out details, which I think in general makes me a better observer of what is around me…of life.

I’m inspired by photography that captures a sense of place and people, especially vibrant photos from The Third Eye Mom (see Lesson in Street Photography), and intricate nature photos, and great landscape photography from Just Another Nature Enthusiast (see the EcoRegion series).

In our digital era and through our blogs, we all have the opportunity for the “reward” of longevity — since our words and photos will be around long after we are gone, right?


To see interpretations from the WordPress blogging community or to join in the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

To participate in the new monthly photo challenge, The Changing Seasons, hosted by Cardinal Guzman, click here.  NOTE: I’m also including these photos as my first attempt and as practice 🙂 for this monthly challenge (though late, and more photos than suggested) since I like the idea of capturing sets of photos for different seasons — plus these photos are not archived, or published elsewhere, but taken last week. 

Seeing amazing photos from the WordPress blogging community is always inspiring, and tips are always appreciated from seasoned and professional photographers.

24 thoughts on “WPC Reward: The longevity of author John Steinbeck – photos from his hometown

  1. Lola Jane-
    Why did I love this post? Let me count the ways:
    1. John Steinbeck is one of my all time favorite authors,
    2. The quotation rocks anchor this piece,
    3. Choice of photos big picture to filling in the details suit my way of viewing things… Perfectly
    4. Makes me want to get in the car and head south to see everything you captured- the local Chamber of Commerce would be hard-pressed to do better!

    • Jane, my WordPress JetPack blog stats indicate I have 1,114 comments so far on Lola Jane’s World. I must say…this comment, with specifics, has to rank at least in the top 3!

      Thank you 🙂

    • Thank you, Nicole! Glad you found it informative…there is so much around us — sometimes in our own backyard — that is so interesting and full of history.

      You deserve all the compliments, I am a great admirer of your blog and photos, and especially the social causes you write about. I learn something from you all the time! (sorry if you received this in duplicate, but somehow, my first response to your comment disappeared).

      • Yes there is a lot to do here in our own backyard isn’t there? SOmetimes it can get so overwhelming but I figure if we each work at it life will be better and a better future. Thanks for the compliments!

    • Thank you for the visit and comment, Tina. There is so much history in this area, and it is always fun to learn, and a good way to improve upon and practice my photography skills 🙂

    • Thank you, Jane!

      Not many people make it out to Oldtown Salinas…most visitors go straight to Monterey, the usual places, the Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc. I think there are more foreigners that visit the Steinbeck center than Americans!

      The Steinbeck Center is undergoing changes and I believe will be under the ownership of the California State University – Monterey Bay (CSUMB) going forward.

      Salinas Oldtown, like some older “downtown” areas struggles, but a new office building (right in front of the Steinbeck Center!) that will be occupied by Taylor Farms should bring a more steady population, at least for the eating establishments in the area. Taylor Farms is the world’s largest producer of freshly cut veggies, and the parent company, Fresh Express pioneered the “bag salad”, which is now pretty common item in grocery stores.

      The Friday Art Walks are also becoming more lively. Is there an old or new downtown in your new home base?

      • It sounds like there is a revitalization happening in Old Town? I thought I’d heard about some newer, more “hip” restaurants opening up there.

        My new town has an old city square – very quaint! It is about a mile from my place so it’s very walkable!

        • Wow, word travels to North Bay from way down here? Seems there are a couple of new restaurants, one on par with a San Francisco establishment I hear (yup, always with the San Francisco comparisons). Have not been to these yet, but I think they opened early, maybe in anticipation for the Taylor Farms office workers. What I love is the new office building architecture (built over an old parking lot) totally meshes with the old buildings there, so though brand spanking NEW, fits right in the area.

          How lovely that you get to walk (run?) to your quaint downtown. If it is Sonoma, then it most definitely is a beautiful square. Is that theater there still open…and the cheese place where you can taste? Plus you have wineries right there in town! Lucky you 🙂

          • I think I heard about the revitalization while I was working for the farmers’ market in 2013.

            Yes, that cheese place in Sonoma is still there! I just went there last weekend with a friend. One of the few free things you can get in Sonoma! I haven’t been to the theater yet…and funny enough, I haven’t been wine tasting yet, either!

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  4. Love this post of one of my favourite authors. Well photographed and written. My students are currently reading “Of Mice and Men” and the movie starring Sinise and Malkovitch is always a hit and calls for great discussions on humanity and being outside society. Thank you!

    • You are welcome, Leya! I’m so glad you visited — and viewed the post and photographs. I’ll be posting more from a visit to his house (now a restaurant, but well preserved, loved and cared for by a local group).

      His writing so far, endures, and amazing that his writing is still read around the world.

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.