When he was young, John shared a pony named Jill (the Red Pony) with his younger sister Mary.
In 1931, Steinbeck and wife Carol purchased two mallard ducks, "Aqua" and "Vita" to stock the fishpond at their Pacific Grove cottage. The ducks had to be sold later to purchase writing paper for To a God Unknown.
Carol Steinbeck wrote humorous poetry which she published under the name Amnesia Glasscock.
John Steinbeck was left-leaning in his politics: "I am basically, intrinsically and irresistibly a Democrat," he wrote in 1956, after covering the national political conventions. He knew FDR and wrote him in 1942 protesting Japanese internment; supported Adlai Stevenson because he loved his writing and speaking; and contributed ideas and passages for speeches to L.B.J. Steinbeck's wife, Elaine, had gone to University with Lady Byrd Johnson in Texas.
During World War II, John Steinbeck was a correspondent for the Herald Tribune. His columns were syndicated nationwide, except in Oklahoma, which had yet to forgive him for writing The Grapes of Wrath.
In 1953, a year or so after East of Eden was published, Steinbeck suffered the first of several small strokes during which he would trip or become disoriented. He was also treated for anxiety and manic depression by psychologist, Gertrudis Brenner, a friend of his literary agent, Elizabeth Otis.
After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy approached Steinbeck to write the official biography of the late president. John and his third wife, Elaine, had been in Warsaw, Poland when President Kennedy was shot.
According to Elaine Steinbeck, John asked her if he could take Charley, her dog, on his trip around America. Worried about John's health and his being alone on the road, Elaine responded enthusiastically: "That's wonderful. If you get in trouble, Charley can go for help. If there's danger, Charley can warn you." John responded: "Elaine, I'm taking Charley, not Lassie."
Years after her husband's death, Elaine Steinbeck went into a bookstore in Japan, asking if they carried copies of The Grapes of Wrath. The owner was puzzled, not recognizing the title. "It's by John Steinbeck," she insisted. "Oh," said the owner, finally understanding her request. "You mean The Angry Raisins."