The old woman, a bit bent with the weight of her years, walked slowly down a street in Salinas, the town where John Steinbeck was born. She was the kind of woman Steinbeck might have written about, as she aroused both a sense of compassion and dignity.
The woman stopped at 130 Central Avenue, in front of a Queen Anne-style two-story turreted home. She didn't speak much English and none of us spoke Spanish with any assurance. Still, we managed to communicate well enough. A good sport, the woman willingly posed for a few minutes for her portrait, in front of the house that was Steinbeck's when he was a child. And though she was poor in material possessions, on a late afternoon in the town of Salinas, this woman was crowned queen for a day.