CALIFORNIA: Wrong Man, Right Valley

Eleven years ago, John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath carried the hapless Joad family westward on highway 66 to a life of debased poverty on California's big, corporate-owned farms. Since then the story of the impoverished migrant worker in the rich San Joaquin Valley had been told with seasonal regularity in fiction and fact. And sometimes the two got badly mixed, as a congressional subcommittee on education and labor reported scathingly last week.

The committeemen had gone into the valley last November to investigate a two-year-old strike of the National Farm Labor Union (A.F.L.) against the biggest ranch of them all,...