Seventy five years ago, John Steinbeck wrote a brilliant little novel to entertain soldiers fighting in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. In it, he depicted the world of Monterey, California through the lens of a collection of male characters who lived on its margins. Less interesting for him, but equally compelling for us, were the mostly immigrant women who made up the workforce of the bustling fish canneries that were only alluded to in Steinbeck’s novel.
In a virtual presentation at the Lane Center last Thursday, May 14, Carol Lynn McKibben, author of "Beyond Cannery Row: Sicilian Women, Immigration and Community in Monterey," shared the stories of those women. Through their work in the canneries, in family life, and in building community, they transformed Monterey into a far more woman-centered world than Steinbeck imagined.