Newsletter: The decades-long battles over John Steinbeck’s estate

Los Angeles Times


John Steinbeck 1960

John Steinbeck entered the literary stratosphere by way of his native Central California, through stories that lionized the downtrodden and often unseen.

“The Grapes of Wrath,” his account of the fictional Joad family fleeing the Dust Bowl for the promise of the golden west, won him the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, as well as accusations that he was spreading Communist propaganda. He was a man described by many as a “bard of the people” for his dignified and sometimes romanticized portraits of the working poor.

But Steinbeck’s own legacy of success has divided his family, with the disputes spilling from one generation to the next. His heirs have been clashing over the author’s estate for more than half a century now, since Steinbeck’s death in 1968. Read more.

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FLASH: New Model A Coming Out To Replace The Model T

1928 Model A

After almost two decades of sales, the Ford Model T is replaced by the all-new Model A. A pickup-truck body style is offered from the get-go, with the model employing the same bed used by the Model T pickup. A roadster cab is offered initially, followed by a closed cab in August 1928. A new bed design debuts for 1931 and features an additional five cubic feet of cargo space. The closed-cab Model A Deluxe pickup joins the lineup in 1931 and features an integrated cargo bed with chrome-plated brass rails on the bedsides. Source: Car and Driver Magazine Greg Fink

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Two True Stories

Two Stories BOTH TRUE – and worth reading

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Easy Eddie

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example. One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer; at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop,

At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own.

Live, love, toil with a will.

Place no faith in time.

For the clock may soon be still.”


Butch O’Hare

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of WW II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

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Radio in the Roaring 1920’s


Silent Movies didn’t start talking until 1927 when Warner Bros. released “The Jazz Singer.”  The film ran 89 minutes and grossed almost four million in the U.S. and another three million worldwide.



Radio, on the other hand, had been going strong for years.  By 1923, some three million Americans owned radios, although most of them were crystal sets with earphones.  Programming was mostly: baseball, news, music, and advertising.

Crystal Setscrysradio3



Pretty Girl

Sugar Foot

Five Foot Two

Henpecked Blues

[If you don’t have time to listen now, Bookmark this page on your Browser, and revisit sometime when you have fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee.]


Tube Radio Radio


In 1922, President Harding became the first President to be heard on radio.  It was not a political message but a dedication to the composer of the “Star Spangled Banner” Francis Scot Key.  The first political message came three years later from President Coolidge.


In 1927 radios started appearing in cars



The Marconi Transmitting Station, Marin County California

Marconi Bolinas Transmit Site 1913

In 1914, the stations in Bolinas (transmitting) and Marshall (receiving) could receive messages from New Jersey and retransmit them to Hawaii.


And last but not least, 



Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac was equipped with a police band receiver.


Al Capones car

Model “A” & Model “T” Fords


You start with a Model “T” …


Model T


Strip it down and have some fun with it…




However, you’re getting older, and it’s time for a change.  Your Model “T” has barely 20 horsepower, a top speed of 45 mph, but it cost only $260.  You want a car with 40 horsepower, a top speed of 65 mph, and so what if it costs $385 this is 1928 and the economy is booming.  


The Model “A” Ford is right for you.



Here’s the chassis coming down the line…

images (1)


Then they put in the engine…



Add a steering wheel and instruments 

Model A Ford


Almost done…

Model A


And there you (and two million other people) have it.  A new 1928 Model “A” Ford automobile.   (And you don’t have to crank it.)


John Dillinger also had a Model “A” Ford


In 2010, Dillinger’s 1930 Model “A” sold for $165,000


John Dillinger never really owned the Model “A” pictured above.  It was stolen (borrowed, he asked if he could use it) to make his escape from the Little Bohemia shootout on April 23, 1934.  


Earl Butler and Baby Face Nelson were also at Little Bohemia, but made other travel arrangements.


1933 Buick

Following the Brainerd Bank robbery Oct. 23, 1933, John Paul Chase, Baby Face Nelson and others (Dillinger not present) used a 1933 Buick 8 cylinder 7-passenger sedan (like the one above) to make their escape. 

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1920 Flappers Took the Country by Storm – But Did They Ever Truly Go Away

Women of the Roaring Twenties had a lot in common with today’s millennials.

By Linda Simon

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe
September 2017

She was the sexy ingénue, spending evenings in jazz clubs hazy with her cigarette smoke. She cavorted, wild and willful, in the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who summed her up as “pretty, impudent, superbly assured, as worldly-wise, briefly-clad and ‘hard-berled’ as possible.”

Daredevils on a skyscraper

Unlike their mothers and grandmothers, flappers tended to go to high school and even college, and they devoured new books featuring confident, fun-loving adolescent heroines who hiked and camped and solved mysteries. Flappers biked, played golf and tennis, and strove to emulate the flat-chested and hipless physiques of the adolescent boys whose freedom and lack of domestic responsibilities they envied.

Predictably, these stylish tomboys were a grave source of worry to parents, educators, physicians and clergymen, who feared that sports and higher education would be ruinous. “Without womanly ­ideals the female character is threatened with disintegration,” warned G. Stanley Hall, a leading psychologist and educator who toured the country lecturing on the subject.

Read more.

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Barney Oldfield

Berna Eli “Barney” Oldfield (January 29, 1878 – October 4, 1946) was an American pioneer automobile racer; his “name was synonymous with speed in the first two decades of the 20th century”. After success in bicycle racing, he began auto racing in 1902 and continued until his retirement in 1918. He was the first man to drive a car at 60 miles per hour on a circular track.

At age 16, Oldfield began serious bicycle racing in 1894 after officials from the “Dauntless” bicycle factory asked him to ride for the Ohio state championship. Although he came in second, the race was a turning point. Oldfield was lent a gasoline-powered bicycle to race at Salt Lake City. Through fellow racer Tom Cooper, he met Henry Ford, who was at the beginning of his career as an auto manufacturer.

Ford had readied two automobiles for racing, and he asked Oldfield if he would like to test one in Michigan. Oldfield agreed and traveled to Michigan for the trial, but neither car started. Although Oldfield had never driven an automobile, he and Cooper bought both test vehicles when Ford offered to sell them for $800. One was “No. 999”, which was debuted in October 1902 at the Manufacturer’s Challenge Cup. Today it is displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village.

1902 Oldfield and Henry Ford

Oldfield agreed to drive against the current champion, Alexander Winton. Oldfield was rumored to have learned how to operate the controls of the “999” only the morning of the event. Oldfield won by a half mile in the five-mile (8 km) race. He slid through the corners like a motorcycle racer rather than braking. It was a great victory for Ford and resulted in both Oldfield and Ford becoming nationally known.

On June 20, 1903, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Oldfield became the first driver to run a mile track in one minute flat, or 60 miles per hour.


Oldfield, his manager and agent traveled throughout the United States in a series of timed runs and match races, and he earned a reputation as a showman. Oldfield was the first American to become a celebrity solely for his ability to drive a car with great skill, speed, and daring. He liked to increase the drama in best of three matches: he would win the first part by a nose, lose the second, and win the third.

Oldfield 1907

Oldfield won first place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 21, 1909 in a Mercedes Benz. He bought a Benz, and raised his speed in 1910 to 70.159 mph. At Daytona Beach, Florida, on March 16, 1910, he set the world speed record, driving 131.724 mph.

Oldfield in the Benz



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