Monterey, California: Historic Cannery Row and John Steinbeck Walking Tour
Bruce Ariss Way / View from Doc’s Lab Mural / Mackerel Jacks / Flora Woods
The colorful mural to your right is called “View from Doc’s Lab”. This is also Bruce Ariss Way. Turn in here, find a seat on a bench and I'll tell you a few stories.
Let’s start with Bruce Ariss who was an American painter, muralist, writer and editor. He and his wife Jean McLellan Fitch moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1935.
Over the next few decades many artists, illustrators and writers passed through Doc Rickett’s lab on Cannery Row. Bruce had the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with many of them, including Robinson Jeffers, Francis Whitaker, Salvador Dali, Hank Ketcham, Gus Arriola and John Steinbeck.
Bruce painted a number of murals under the federal Works Progress Administration program. This one depicts quite accurately what Doc saw from his upstairs window from across the street.
Next to the mural is a bronze bust of the Queen of Cannery Row, Kalisa Moore who turned La Ida’s brothel into a restaurant. To the left of the bust is Mackerel Jacks store, the location of Flora Wood’s Lone Star Café.
Born Julia Silva in Carmel Valley California in 1876, Julia changed her name to Flora and married Charles Woods in 1895 but the marriage didn’t last. In 1918, either to make ends meet or just because she wanted to, Flora opened a brothel on Decatur Street in Monterey. Evicted a short time later, she moved her girls to Cannery Row to open Flora Wood’s Lone Star Café. For better or worse, Flora’s manner of running her business would earn her establishment the title of “The Best Brothel in Monterey”.
Flora was also fictionalized in Steinbeck’s novel and was known as Madam Dora Flood, the large woman with the flaming orange hair who ran her brothel out of the Bear Flag Restaurant. Her likeness is also on the Steinbeck Plaza Monument.
Mackerel Jacks is the location of Flora Wood’s Lone Star Café which operated across from the lab until 1941 when California attorney general Earl Warren ordered all brothels in the state closed.
Now, do you see the three small wooden structures? They will be up the stairs which are located between Mackerel Jacks and the Bruce Ariss Mural. Walk up the stairs and I will meet you in front of the three shacks.