In the 1880’s, Ann Adcock’s grandfather arrived in the Salinas Valley and homesteaded a parcel of land in South Monterey County. It was located in the vicinity of what is today the San Antonio Dam; a gigantic reservoir created to accommodate the highly profitable Salinas Valley agricultural industry.
In the minds of many, Adam Trask’s ranch would not have been too far away. Samuel Hamilton’s ranch to the northeast would been a partial days ride on his contrary old horse Doxology. Hamilton was the real life maternal grandfather of John Steinbeck. He was also a main character in Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Adam Trask was another principal character in this epic novel which was an amalgamation of fact, fiction, characters and locales.
Ann Adcock was born in 1907, and attended a little one room South County school. A few years earlier, another similar school was built in the north part of Monterey County. It was located on the old route of highway 101 at the foot of the Gabilan Mountains northeast of Salinas. Folks called this rural academy – the Lagunita School.
After graduating from San Jose Normal School (today’s San Jose State), Ann Adcock became the teacher of this little old school house that was to become known around the world.
She taught grades one through eight – all at the same time. Older students helped out with the younger ones. She said this helped to instill a sense of responsibility.
The Lagunita School
Young folks also helped out on the family farms and ranches in those days. For most, schooling went no farther than Ann Adcock’s little schoolhouse
High School and College await most graduates of today’s Lagunita School – which still operates as a small school house; but in a newer building since the State decided the original one was not “earthquake safe.” The new building looks just like the one it replaced – thanks to the caring efforts of a local architect. Actually, if you peek around the corner – you’ll notice that there’s another room attached in back. The area has grown some.
The old building, however, has been preserved. The original Lagunita School now sits near the historic Boronda adobe in North Salinas on land owned by the Monterey County Historical Society. It is open to the public; and has been completely restored and set up to look just like a functioning school. Just like the one Ann Adcock taught in…….Just like the one Jody attended!
Jody? Oh, by the way! When you visit the old Lagunita school – stop and dream a little. Imagine a little boy seated at his desk inside dreaming of his wonderful pony. His wonderful Red Pony!
Because, now you’ll know what most folks don’t. You now know that this was the actual school house that John Steinbeck wrote about in his story: The Red Pony.
This book was originally a series of Magazine articles for Coronet Magazine. One was written during a sad time for John Steinbeck. He was was living in the Family home on Central Avenue in Salinas while his mother was dying. Steinbeck had finished the story and the time had come to send it in for publishing. However, neither he nor anyone else in the house could find it. After turning the house upside down – to no avail – Steinbeck sat down and re-wrote the story. Later, during “Spring Cleaning” they found the original “cunningly” hiding behind a sofa. Years later, scholars thought to compare the original manuscript with the final draft which was published in its place. To their astonishment – they found a total of SIX WORDS different.
The Red Pony was later made into a major motion picture, as well as a TV show. It is also where many folks find the bottom line of all Steinbeck. The Universal Ideas that permeate everything from The Grapes of Wrath to Cannery Row and more all are at the core of this small book – which is also where you will find – The little old school house known ’round the world.