Cannery Row Foundation Celebrates Frank Wright Day

Image of Frank Wright at Doc Ricketts lab on Cannery Row

The Cannery Row Foundation in Monterey, California will honor Frank Wright, a friend of Ed Ricketts and a member of the group that purchased the legendary “Doc” Ricketts lab, with a day devoted to lab tours open by reservation on October 22. Wright, a retired businessman in Carmel, California, was one of seven people who pooled their resources to buy the property—immortalized in John Steinbeck’s 1945 novel Cannery Row—from the private owner who purchased it after Ricketts was killed in a train accident nearby. Two members of the original group died recently, making Frank Wright, age 97, the sole survivor and witness to a major event in Cannery Row chronology. Having a chance to meet Wright and tour Doc Ricketts’s lab—now owned by the city of Monterey, California—is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans of Cannery Row, the novel and the place, and Doc Ricketts, Steinbeck’s friend and hero. According to Cannery Row Foundation President Michael Hemp, tours will begin each hour starting at 9:00 a.m. and are limited to groups of 15. Email stating your preferred tour time (9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, or 4:00) and the number of persons in your party. A donation of $15 per person is requested by the foundation, a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the preservation of Cannery Row history.

Photo of Frank Wright at Cannery Row lab by Kelli Uldall courtesy Carmel Magazine.

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  1. Take any opportunity you can get to meet Frank Wright, especially in relation to Ed Ricketts’ lab and John Steinbeck. About four years ago my wife Nancy and I were walking by the lab with friends from Michigan, E.J. and Sue Eckert, when we saw Mr. Wright standing on the stairs with the City of Monterey’s cultural director Dennis Copeland. They invited us in and Mr. Wright gave us a tour that Sue and E.J. still talk about as a highlight of their trip west. Frank brings it all to life. But I’m guessing he would agree with me that should not refer to the building as “Doc Ricketts’ lab.” It belonged to Ed Ricketts. In Steinbeck’s writing, of course, it takes on a second life, but the place Steinbeck visited belonged to a real person named Ed, not to a fictional creation called “Doc.”

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