Steinbeck on Radicals and Reds

“In Dubious Battle”,Mac laughed explosively. “Anybody who wants a living wage is a radical.”

“Grapes of Wrath”
Tom Joad gets work digging a ditch with Wilkie and Timothy.
When Tom asks “What the hell is these reds anyway?”
Timothy responds.
“Fella named Hines-got about thirty acres…all a time talkin’ about
them goddamn reds…well, they were a young fella jus’ come out west
here, an’ he’s listenin’ one day. He kinda scratched his head an’ he
says, Mr Hines, I ain’t been here long. What is these goddamn reds?
Well, sir, Hines says, A red is any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty
cents an hour when we’re paying twenty-five.”

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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