When travelling, it is always exciting to visit historical places: the Paris Mouffetard cafés where Hemingway met with Gertrude Stein and Picasso; Gare St-Lazare where Monet would setup his easel; or Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh roamed the melancholically beautiful wheatfield with crows in tow.
Closer to home at Cannery Row, a faded wooden shack stands between imposing buildings, mostly unnoticed by the thousands of visitors hurrying to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Doc Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories looks so out of place yet it is filled with a proud history, if only the walls could talk. It was there where John Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts. Ricketts became a good friend and mentor to Steinbeck. Ricketts was fictionally portrayed in many Steinbeck novels: Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, Burning Bright, Dubious Battle, and the classic Grapes of Wrath.
Ricketts also trained the great mythologist Joseph Campbell whom George Lucas gave credit to his influence in creating Star Wars.
Ed Ricketts was a scientist ahead of his time. Though he made a living collecting and selling marine species to Universities and Colleges, he was an early advocate of now-common concepts such as habitat, predator-prey relationships, and intertidal organisms in an ecological context. Ricketts and Jack Calvin’s textbook “Between Pacific Tides” remains in use today and is the best-selling book of the Stanford University Press.
Sadly, Ricketts was killed when his stalled car was hit by a train. A beautiful Ricketts Memorial now resides at the train-crossing turned bicycle path at Drake Ave and Wave St. Take the time to enjoy our local treasures on your next bicycle ride to Monterey.
Tony Le, ACTC President
Doc Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories
Ricketts Memorial @ Drake Ave & Wave St