The Profound Social Community Influence of Cannery Row’s Caretaker Edward F. Ricketts—with Wes Stillwagon

In the novel Cannery Row, John Steinbeck describes

…a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky-tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses.

The book offers a heart-warming story of a well-planned, lovingly tended social flower-garden, with important lessons to be learned about individual maturity, functional styles, and attitudes. In the mid-90s I was walking on Cannery Row with my friend Jim Kent, who mentioned that his organization operates with an assumption that even within relaxed political structures and casual social networks, individuals gravitate to specific roles. I have applied Jim’s description of the “Caretaker” role to a study Ed Ricketts as an example of an individual working selflessly, without an inflated ego, with exceptional effectiveness and social responsibility.

Wes Stillwagon is a retired Training Manager and instructional
designer who worked for RCA, Pennsylvania Electric, Loral
Electronic Systems, Honeywell, ATT, New Jersey Blue Cross
and Blue Shield, and KPMG Peat Marwick. He was a training
manager for a large Job Corp center in New Jersey. Earlier, Wes was an Electronics Technician in the US Navy on the USS Hornet. He has independently studied the works of Jung since about 1964 and is a Steinbeck scholar.

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