Kick it with the spirit of Steinbeck, Miller, and Campbell
Beyond the obvious National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, there is a more subtle way to follow in the writer’s footsteps. Tucked in Cannery Row is Pacific Biological Laboratories, a little lab founded in 1923 by Ed Ricketts and business partner Albert Galigher that sold preserved marine species to schools, museums, and research facilities. Here’s the literary tie: After a fire in 1936, Ricketts' good friend, John Steinbeck, bought half the company and helped rebuild it. A golden age followed where Ricketts used the lab as a gathering place for writers, artists, and musicians, including none other than Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, and, of course, Steinbeck, who created a character named “Doc,” inspired by Ricketts, and immortalized the lab as “Western Biological Laboratory” in his novel Cannery Row. After Rickett’s death, the space carried on its arts heritage with a meeting in 1957 that led to a little event idea called the Monterey Jazz Festival. The lab has been left as it was back in those glory days, and there are free public tours about once a month (or private group tours).