Any educated scholar who has studied that journey knows that Bill Steigerwald simply hasn't enough facts to "debunk" that journey ("Sorry, Charley, Was Steinbeck's 'Travels with Charley' a fraud?" Reason magazine, April 2011").
For some reason the press continues to give this guy way too much ink ("Letters From The Editor: Somewhat let down by a boyhood hero," Coastline Pilot, April 16). As far as I'm concerned, and I know mountains about that journey, the author of that Reason article is just another individual who wants to build a career on rumor and innuendo. Please let his absurd story go away.
If you were at all moved by "Travels With Charley," and have done as much research over the years as I have, and if you really even care, you should speak with Dr. Susan Shillinglaw, scholar in residence at The National Steinbeck Center, to get the true facts of the journey. After all, she has read all of the letters, while Steigerwald claims to have read the rather limited collection of letters at the Mercantile Library.