“This I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual." -- John Steinbeck -- (1902-1968) -- Source: East of Eden, 1952
I took this Steinbeck quote from Information Clearing House Newsletter a few days ago. It was only a moment ago that I noticed the year of John’s death. 1968. The instant I noticed that date memory flew me back to Saigon. It was the season of the Tet offensive. At that time, penniless as usual, I was sleeping in somebody’s garage. I don’t recall who it belonged to. There was the cement floor, the reed mat, and the rats that ran about at night once I turned off the light.
One night some of us were hanging out in the garage when one of Steinbeck’s sons showed up. He was something of a journalist/tourist, not much different from myself. If the son was Thomas he would have been 24 years old. If John, he would have been 22. I was 38. Usually it was me who was the star in that garage. But that night the Steinbeck kid took over the show. He was on top of his game, he was interesting, energetic, and kept us all laughing for some two hours. And then he was gone. It was a fine appearance. I expected to hear about him in the days to come. Didn’t work out.