A lot of little boy left

On Steinbeck, his friend Nathaniel Benchley had a lot to say. But above all was this admiration for the man who had a child-like enthusiasm for things. A lot of it comes across in Travels With Charley. Steinbeck’s love for the road and readiness for all sorts of adventure in life.

There was, oddly, a lot of little boy left in him, if by little boy you can mean a searching interest in anything new, a desire to do or to find or to invent some sort of diversion, a fascination with any gadget of any sort whatsoever, and the ability to be entertained by comparative trivia. He was the only adult I have ever seen who would regularly laugh at the Sunday comics; he raised absolute hell in our kitchen with an idea for making papier-mâché in the Waring blender with a combination of newspaper and water and flour; and he would conduct frequent trips to the neighborhood toy store, sometimes just to browse through the stock and sometimes to buy an item like a cap pistol as a Valentine’s Day present for his wife.

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