It’s a terrier’s world, we just live in it

Travels With Charley

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Adlai Stevenson, among others, had encouraged Steinbeck to travel through the U.S. as he had in the 1930’s gathering impressions and canvassing attitudes that Steinbeck could cast in the form of a book. The idea appealed to Steinbeck, and as he completed The Winter of Our Discontent, he began making plans for a drive through America. He commissioned the construction of a special vehicle a sturdy truck on the back of which was mounted a cabin in which Steinbeck could sleep, cook, and work. He was delighted when the truck arrived, and spent much of the summer provisioning it for the expedition ahead.His wife Elaine, concerned about her husband’s health, was at first opposed to the trek. She could not change her husband’s mind, however, and he christened his vehicle “Rocinante” in honor of Don Quixote’s horse. Elaine provided the title Travels With Charley because both Steinbeck and Elaine admired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels With a Donkey (1879).

Steinbeck decided to take their pet poodle, Charley, on the 10,000 mile journey. Travels With Charley can best be appreciated as an act of courage.


Famed Pet. Charley was the great American author John Steinbeck’s French Poodle, born and raised in a Paris suburb, who knew “a little poodle-english,” but who responded “only to commands in French.” The full name of this ‘blue’ Standard Poodle was Charles le Chien, and he and Steinback made an enviable pair traveling about the country in a pickup-camper named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse. In the fall of 1960, the illustrious John Steinbeck set off across the United States to rediscover America on a sort of mid-life crisis road trip. His sole companion and comrade was Charles le Chien, a.k.a. Charley, whom Steinbeck referred to as his ambassador who was a great ice-breaker helping ease communication with those met on their journey. Sharing the cab of the three-quarter ton pickup truck which had been saddled with a camper top for all the comforts of home, the duo trekked from coast to coast, east to west, and back; 10,000 plus miles, 34 states, and three months on the open road. Month’s later, he recorded their journey in the near classic book, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America,” for which Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for literature. (bio by: Paul Theodore Riegert)



Written by aterrier

June 28, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Posted in poodle

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One Response

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  1. I love this blog. Don’t stop!


    June 29, 2008 at 11:51 am

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