The official city flower of Salinas, California? You guessed it: the chrysanthemum. While we can't prove it, we have a hunch it might have something to do with the story. (Source.)
When Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 and a reporter asked him if he felt he deserved the honor, he responded, "Frankly, no." Now that's what we call self-effacing. Maybe that's why his narrative techniques are so restrained. (Source.)
Steinbeck was picky about his pens. He preferred dark blacks and purples, and later in life, he made the switch to pencil. ( Source.)
Steinbeck's family home, which still stands in Salinas, California, is now a restaurant. We hear they make a killer Monte Cristo.