Thursday, April 12, 2012

Senior DeMolay Highlight - John Steinbeck

It's been quite some time since I did a Senior DeMolay Highlight on the blog. As the school year winds down and the winds of Spring bring warm air to the Commonwealth, many young people are turning their attention to the final projects and papers required to complete their coursework. There are very few high schools that don't require some sort of reading and one of the most widely read authors is also a Senior DeMolay. Let's find out more about...
John Steinbeck
Great American Author

Bro. Steinbeck is probably one of the most notable writers of the 20th Century. His works have become standard fare for high school and collegiate English classes and many young people cut their proverbial teeth analyzing his novels. However, John never wanted the spotlight. He was a solitary man and valued his personal time more than anything else.
Born February 27, 1902, John was much loved by his parents. His father, John, was the Treasurer of Monterrey County in California, where the family resided. His mother, Olivia, was a retired school teacher. Episcopalians by faith, the Steinbecks were actually of German descent, while his mother was Irish. In his youth, John worked at a local farm and ranch where he encountered the darker side of migrant and farm labor that later influenced his novels. He assisted in founding Watsonville Chapter, Order of DeMolay, in Wastonville, CA, as a Charter member. As he aged, he attended Stanford University, but left after three years without earning a degree.
John entered the workforce, finding little success. He bounced from job to job, including acting as a tour guide and working in a warehouse. The only good thing to come out of this labor was that he met his first wife, Carrol, whom he would marry in 1930. Seeing his potential, his parents put he and Carrol up in a small flat where they subsidized his income so that he could concentrate on writing. He found a groove and penned his first books in the 1930's, but his life took a turn when he divorced Carrol in 1941. By 1942 he had remarried, this time to Gwyn, with whom he would have his only children - Tom and John IV.
Steinbeck wasn't immune from World War II. He served as a war correspondent until the completion of the conflict in 1945. Following the war, John travelled around the world, including several trips to Russia. In 1948 he returned to California to visit a dying friend, but sadly the man passed before John could arrive. Upon returning to his home from that trip, Gwyn asked John for a divorce, leaving him a broken man at the end of the 1940's.

If the 40's were rough for John, the 50's and 60's were his golden years. He met his third wife, Elaine, and wed her in 1950. He spent the next 18 years with her while he furthered his literary career. John passed away on December 20, 1968, at the age of 66, due to complications from a life time of smoking.
Before passing, John left such a volume of work that he would be lauded for decades to come. His books "The Grapes of Wrath," "Of Mice and Men," and "East of Eden" are considered modern day classics. He won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for his literary work. He was also honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Lyndon B. Johnson.

The legacy of John Steinbeck is apparent. Sometimes the most creative and talented people are the most reserved and quietest in group situations. While he may not have been a Master Councilor, Bro. Steinbeck was certainly a leader in his own right.
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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