IRMA AND THE HEMINGWAY HOUSE: KEY WEST

May the Hemingway house and all people in the path of Irma stay safe.  Best, Christine

Managers at Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home not heeding Mariel Hemingway’s plea to take the cats and go!

A six-toed cat, one of many that reside at the home of author Ernest Hemingway, is seen February 18, 2013 in Key West, Florida. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. AFP PHOTO/ Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A six-toed cat, one of many that reside at the home of author Ernest Hemingway, in 2013 in Key West, Florida. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: At around 1 p.m. PST, Dave Gonzales, executive director of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, confirmed to CNN that he and nine other employees were staying through the fierce winds and rain expected with Hurricane Irma, saying the legendary author’s 1851 house, with its 18-inch-thick limestone walls is “the strongest fortress in all the Florida Keys.” Original story follows: 

Actress Mariel Hemingway thinks it’s noble that the 72-year-old general manager of her grandfather’s historic Key West home wants to stay and try to safeguard the property and its famous six-toed feline residents as Hurricane Irma comes barreling in.

But she’s begging Jacqui Sands to leave the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum to protect her life.

The Ernest Hemingway House is seen in this February 16, 2016 photo in Key West, Florida. / AFP / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
The Ernest Hemingway House is seen in this February 16, 2016 photo in Key West, Florida. / AFP / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) 

“I think you’re wonderful and an admirable person for trying to stay there and to try to save the cats and the house,” the Academy Award-winning actress said in a video posted by TMZ. 

“This is frightening. This hurricane is a big deal,” she said, adding that she should, yes, save the cats if she can.

“Get in the car with the cats and take off,” she said.

The legendary author’s home, where he wrote “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,”  is in the path of Irma, which is now categorized as a category 4 hurricane and is expected to hit the Florida Keys and other parts of southern Florida Saturday evening.

General manager Sands is tasked with securing the property and ensuring the safety of the 55 cats that freely roam there. Many of the cats are believed to be descendants of the author’s cat Snow White and have the distinctive six and seven toes on one paw.

1954: American novelist Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961) on safari in Africa. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American novelist  on safari in Africa in the 1950s. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 

Sands won’t be there alone with the cats. She’ll be joined by nine other employees, who have helped to stock up on food, water and medication for the cats and to board up windows and doors. They also have three generators to keep the power and air conditioning going. The other employees couldn’t leave because either they don’t have a car or couldn’t find a flight out, she said.

 

That confidence was echoed by the museum’s executive director Dave Gonzales, who told the Houston Chronicle that the 1851 French colonial home has 18-inch thick limestone walls that allow it to withstand dangerous storms.

“This isn’t our first hurricane. We’re here to stay,” Gonzalez said.

In an interview with CNN Friday afternoon, he added that at 16 feet above sea level, the house is not in a flood zone. As for the cats, he said they are adept at surviving storms, and the home has never lost a cat to a hurricane.

“Cats know naturally when to go. As soon as the barometric pressure drops, they come in,” Gonzalez said. “They know before humans do when it’s time to get in.”

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Actress Mariel Hemingway attends the 2015 Hope For Depression Research Foundation Luncheon at 583 Park Avenue on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
Mariel Hemingway in 2015 (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images) 

But Mariel Hemingway isn’t so confident and points out that “it’s just a house.”

She acknowledged that “none of us likes to lose things we treasure” but “ultimately you’ve got to protect your life.”

Hemingway then referred to that famous idea espoused by her grandfather in his prose.

“Courage is grace under pressure,” she said. In this case, “I think this is taking things a little too far.”

Hemingway’s First Love

Hello! This is a sweet first love letter from Hemingway to a woman with no regrets: Read on for the article below. Best, Christine

Hemingway Letters Pining For High School Love Interest Found In Marblehead

Front and rear of an envelope addressed to Frances Coates from Ernest Hemingway in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)closemore

Ernest Hemingway, the legendary author and tortured Nobel laureate, is known for works like “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and The Sea.”

His image was that of a bold adventurer and world traveler. He was an avid big game hunter, often posing next to his prey in pictures.

There’s another — and perhaps more relatable — side to the legendary author, though. It’s one of an awkward teenage suitor trying desperately to impress a girl who captured his high school heart.

Her name was Frances Elizabeth Coates. She sang opera and went to the same Oak Park, Illinois high school Hemingway attended. He played cello at the time and was enamored by Coates and her love of art.

Coates’ granddaughter, Betsy Fermano, lives in Marblehead, Mass. She kept Hemingway’s letters to her grandmother since Coates’ death in 1988. She seals the letters in a quart-sized plastic bag and was keeping them in a trunk. She only recently started dropping them off in a vault at a nearby bank when she learned they could be of value. They’re slightly yellowed but in surprisingly good condition for papers that are essentially a century old.

Betsy Fermano opens a plastic bag containing letters from Ernest Hemingway to her grandmother Frances Elizabeth Coates. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Betsy Fermano opens a plastic bag containing letters from Ernest Hemingway to her grandmother Frances Elizabeth Coates. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“I remember my grandmother telling me about these letters, and she was very embarrassed to talk about her relationship with Ernest Hemingway — or Ernie as she always called him,” says the retired fundraising and development executive. “Because they were really close friends … and I guess Ernie wasn’t with, so I’ve heard, a lot of women, and he was really close to my grandmother, to Frances, and they spent a lot of time together.”

Elder (A Hemingway Scholar) says the preservation of Hemingway’s letters is remarkable.

“Letters from that era — from 1918, 1919 — outside the family are extremely rare,” he explained. “It’s just his voice. He is just sort of free and flirtatious with her because he’s not writing to family.”

A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In the letters, a young Hemingway writes from Milan, Italy during World War I. We asked Fermano to read one of the letters Hemingway wrote from his hospital bed there in 1918 as he recovers from injuries suffered while volunteering as a wartime ambulance driver. He wrote:

“Dear Frances, you see, I can’t break the old habit of writing you whenever I get a million miles away from Oak Park. Milan is so hot that the proverbial hinges of hell would be like the beads of ice on the outside of a glass of Clicquot Club by comparison. However, it has a cathedral and a dead man, Leonardi Da Vinci and some very good-looking girls, and the best beer in the Allied countries.”

Elder said Hemingway seems to be “trying to make [Frances] jealous. He’s trying to say, ‘look at all these beautiful women around me,’ and then he’s bragging about trying beer, which would’ve been sort of the ultimate sign of rebellion, because he grew up in Oak Park, which was a town sort of founded on the temperance movement and was a dry town.”

Was Coates Hemingway’s First True Love?

Photograph of a young Ernest Hemingway and Frances Elizabeth Coates on a canoe trip. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Photograph of a young Ernest Hemingway and Frances Elizabeth Coates on a canoe trip. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“Given some of the evidence here, I think Frances Coates cared for him, but he was squarely what we call in the ‘Friend Zone,’ so if it was his first love, it was very one-sided,” explains Elder.

It was, it appears, unrequited love, then. In fact, in a letter that Francis Coates wrote to a Hemingway biographer, she described her once close friend as awkward and sensitive.

Coates went on to marry a classmate named John Grace, a future railroad executive. But Elder says apparently Hemingway, who pined over Coates as teenager, never forgot Coates — and maybe never got over her because, in fact, her name appears as a character in some of his now classic novels.

“Hemingway was good at holding grudges, and this is not really a grudge, but she is certainly someone he never forgot,” Elder says.

Hemingway apparently references Frances as a character when he’s talking about her husband, in which he writes in his novel, “To Have and Have Not”:

“He’s probably a little too good for Frances, but it will be years before Frances realizes this. Perhaps she will never realize it with luck. [This type of man] is rarely also tapped for bed. But with a lovely girl like Frances, intention counts as much as performance.”

Woo! Elder says “whether or not that was directed at [Coates], Frances definitely saw herself in that — she wrote about it, calling it a wry scene.”

Coates didn’t forget Hemingway either.

She kept his high school portrait in a gold frame in her drawer, and all of the pictures he sent her in a small envelope. Some of those are now in Marblehead as well.

So, did Francis Coates ever regret letting go of the young writer she called Ernie who later became a larger-than-life author — but who also went on to four marriages and three divorces?

Well, a little scribble on the back of an envelope may help answer that question.

“Oh, this is what she says on this envelope, ‘Ernie’s pictures. And 25 years later, ooh! Am I glad I married John!’ ” Fermano reads, laughing.

A note written by Frances Coates on the back of an envelope containing photographs of Hemingway. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

 

 

More on Hemingway’s Brain and link to Findings of NFL Research on Concussion: Different take on it all

This is a long article but the points are interesting. Some of the formatting and photos of brain functioning could not be captured so my apologies.
As those of you who follow this blog know, Hemingway was outrageously accident prone–from a young age even before you could blame it on drinking: sky lights falling on him; car accidents when he was not driving; 2 plane crashes when he was a passenger. No question, with what we know now, these episodes could well have affected his ultimate health and functioning. Please read what you have time for. This was published in the Washington Post, writer Avi Selk.
Best wishes, Christine
April 28 at 8:30 AM

In one of Ernest Hemingway’s first published stories, a man goes into the woods and meets a disfigured prizefighter — insightful, though prone to fits of paranoia and violence.

“You’re all right,” says the visitor after they’ve chatted a while.

“No, I’m not. I’m crazy,” the fighter says. “Listen, you ever been crazy?”

“No. How does it get you?”

“I don’t know. When you got it you don’t know about it.”

Nearly a century after “The Battler” was written, psychiatrist Andrew Farah contends, we would recognize that the prizefighter suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — the same concussion-induced brain disease now infamous in sports, particularly professional football.

And the prizefighter’s renowned author had CTE, too, Farah argues in his new book, “Hemingway’s Brain.”

The psychiatrist from High Point University in North Carolina writes of nine serious blows to Hemingway’s head — from explosions to a plane crash — that were a prelude to his decline into abusive rages, “paranoia with specific and elaborate delusions” and the final violence of his suicide in 1961.

Hemingway’s bizarre behavior in his latter years (he rehearsed his death by gunshot in front of dinner guests, for example) has been blamed on iron deficiency, bipolar disorder, attention-seeking and any number of other problems.

After researching the writer’s letters, books and hospital visits, Farah is convinced that Hemingway had dementia — made worse by alcoholism and other maladies, but dominated by CTE, the improper treatment of which likely hastened his death.

“He truly is a textbook case,” Farah told The Washington Post. “His biography makes perfect sense to me in the context of multiple brain injuries.”

Farah is not the only person to make the link. A shorter discussion of head trauma in Paul Hendrickson’s biography, “Hemingway’s Boat,” convinced a reviewer that the famous writer “was probably suffering from organic brain damage.”

But Farah’s book goes deeper, mixing biography, literature and medical analysis in what he writes is “a forensic psychiatric examination of his very brain cells — the stressors, traumas, chemical insults, and biological changes — that killed a world-famous literary genius.”

Farah dates Hemingway’s first known concussion to World War I, several years before he wrote his short story, “The Battler.”

A bomb exploded about three feet from his teenage frame.

Another likely concussion came in 1928, when Hemingway yanked what he thought was a toilet chain and brought a skylight crashing down on him — causing what Farah describes as “giddy concussive ramblings … about his own blood’s smell and taste.”

Then came a car accident in London — then more injuries as a reporter during World War II, when a German antitank gun blew Hemingway into a ditch.

The psychiatrist describes his reported symptoms: double vision, memory trouble, slowed thought. And headaches that “used to come in flashes like battery fire,” Hemingway wrote in a letter.

“There was a main permanent one all the time. I nicknamed it the MLR 2(main line of resistance) and just accepted that I had it.”

These were “classic and typical” symptoms of head trauma, Farah writes.

And not the last Hemingway would suffer.

After the war: another car accident. Then a fall on his boat “Pilar,” two years before he published “The Old Man and the Sea,” which a book reviewer called Hemingway’s “last generally admired book.”

Farah did not include in his list of concussions Hemingway’s flirtations with boxing, or accounts of head injuries he could not verify or which he suspected were the author’s tall tales.

But by the time Hemingway survived two consecutive plane crashes on a 1954 safari trip — escaping the second wreck by “batter[ing] open the jammed door with his head,” Farah writes — his remarkable brain was beyond repair.

“The injuries from earlier blows resolved, but, with additional assaults, his brain developed CTE,” Farah writes.

Often — though not always — caused by concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease that can manifest as memory loss, anger, dementia and suicidal behavior — usually decades after the head blow, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

What is a concussion?

 

Play Video0:31
This video from the CDC illustrates and explains the science behind a concussion and the importance of recovery time for the human brain. (CDC via YouTube)

Unknown in Hemingway’s day, it has been found in the brains of at least 17 dead athletes, and researchers will look for it in the brain of Aaron Hernandez, a former NFL star who killed himself in prison last week while serving a murder sentence.

 

Less bizarre but perhaps more devastating to the author: his deteriorating ability to arrange words.

“The genius who had written masterpieces such as ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ was now paralyzed, fully in the grip of a severe mental illness” as he struggled to assemble simple sentences for his memoirs in 1961, Farah writes.

“Only an autopsy can put the 100 percent stamp of approval” on a diagnosis, Farah acknowledged to The Post. But he didn’t back down from his conclusions in the book. “The symptoms are just so obvious,” he said.

CTE accounted for about three-quarters of Hemingway’s dementia, Farah said. “The concussions, alcohol, hypertension, and pre-diabetes all contributed to the changes in Hemingway’s brain,” he writes in his book.

And a long history of suicide in Hemingway’s family couldn’t have helped the author cope with his condition, Farah said.

But he is sure that by the end of his life, Hemingway had concussion-driven dementia, not psychotic depression as his doctors believed — to tragic consequences, he writes.

But depression was not Hemingway’s main problem, Farah argues. The traumas and resulting CTE had physically changed his brain — demented and weakened it.

After a round of shock treatments in early 1961, Farah writes, Hemingway “grew more and more abusive to” his wife, “berating her because of his paranoia.”

She and some friends had to physically restrain Hemingway from shooting himself that April.

He went back to the hospital for more shock treatments.

A few days after being discharged a second time, on July 2, 1961, Hemingway woke before sunrise. He fetched his shotgun from the basement, this time with no one to stop him.

All his vulnerabilities coalesced in one final instant,” as Farah puts it.

Had he lived in the 21st century, Farah writes, Hemingway would have had an MRI scan, which might have revealed his much-abused brain was shrinking.

He would have been sent to a therapist, and told to stop drinking, to focus on his health, and “remind himself he is safe.”

He likely would have been prescribed antidepressants and vitamin B pills, and kept clear of stresses such as electric current.

Modern medicine could have saved Hemingway’s life, Farah said.

Even if not: “We would have at least understood him.”

“Hemingway’s Brain” by Andrew Farah was published in April 2017 by the University of South Carolina Press.

Hemingway’s 100 year anniversary (from High School graduation)

Young man with all of it ahead

On Saturday, June 24th, the Hemingway Foundation in Oak Park, Illinois, hosted a party to celebrate Hemingway’s graduation from high school in 1917 – 100 years ago – from Oak Park and River Forest High School.  The Foundation provided some jazz, some spoken word performances, a silent auction, and cocktails.  It has long been debated what Hemingway’s favorite drink was.  Contenders are a daquiri, a mojito, a bloody mary, and the ever-popular martini.  Solid authority supports a dry, very cold martini as his favorite. 

super cold martini
Graduation

 The Foundation also introduced their second annual publication of a collection of short stories called Hemingway Shorts, by rising writers.  The Hemingway Foundation chairman, John Barry, presented several lesser known facts about Hemingway.  If you read this blog regularly these will not be lesser known to you but bear with them. 

Intense writer

 

  1. Hemingway suffered several concussions.  There was the shell explosion in World War I, the skylight handle in Paris he mistakenly pulled which brought the window down to crash over his head leaving him with a lifelong scar that is very visible in his photos (no, he wasn’t drunk at the time!), and two plane crashes, the second of which caused the press to believe he was dead. 
Scar on left side (right as you view this)
wounded again

 2. While he was born in Oak Park, he counted downtown Chicago and Upper Michigan as home.  He honeymooned with his first wife, Hadley Richardson, in Upper Michigan on Lake Walloon, and after the war moved to Chicago for several months. 

 

 3. He burnt the candle at both ends.  Hemingway stayed up late but got up early.  His usual habit when he was writing well was to get up early and work until the early afternoon.  He’d then take a swim, go out on the Pilar, his boat, and relax with friends.  While working on a book he was very disciplined.   

Almost married to Hadley

 

  1. He wrote/typed standing up.  Due to the leg injury from shrapnel in World War I, he was more comfortable standing than sitting when working.  After the plane crashes, it was even more common for him to write while standing. 
Standing and Writing
Hem Standing
  1. He knew a fair amount about loss and starting over.  When Hemingway was married to Hadley and they were living in Paris, he was reporting for the Toronto Star.  He had been assigned to cover the Conference of Lausanne being held in Switzerland.  While there, he thought he could do some work as well as share some of his work with other journalists who might be interested.  He sent a telegram to Hadley asking that she bring some of his work.  She put all of his manuscripts in a suitcase along with the carbon copies.  Once on the train, she stepped off to buy a bottle of water and when she returned the suitcase had been stolen.  It was more than a year and a half’s work and all that was left were two short stories that were in the back of a drawer at home.  Scholars have debated whether it actually served Hemingway well to have to begin again and helped him perfect the lean style for which he is known or if it’s a huge loss to the history of his evolving style.  If anyone finds them…He did forgive Hadley, but it remained a sore spot for a long time. 
Hem, Hadley, Bumby skiing in Europe

So happy 100th anniversary of high school graduation of Ernest Hemingway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance: Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich

Hemingway was a romantic.  Sure, he was macho and tough and a man’s man in many ways, but he enjoyed women greatly and always had a close and loving relationship with Marlene Dietrich.  One of Hemingway’s love letters to her is going up for auction.  It is expected it will garner something in the vicinity of $30 – $40,000.

 

This particular letter is dated August 12, 1952 – a year after Dietrich had confessed to keeping the author’s photograph by her bedside.  They met in 1934 and became quite infatuated with each other but never consummated the attraction because, as Hemingway put it, they were “victims of unsynchronized passion.”  He noted that whenever one of them was out of a relationship the other one was in one and the timing never worked out.

marlene

Hemingway writes in the letter to Marlene “I always love you and admire you and I have all sorts of mixed up feelings about you.”  Later in the letter he declares that while “you are beautiful…I am ugly…please know I love you always and I forget you sometimes as I forget my heart beats.  But it beats always.”

Marlene and Hemingway corresponded over several decades.  Marlene Dietrich’s daughter wrote a book noting that after Hemingway’s death, her mother wore widow’s weeds for quite a while and she always believed that had he been with her, instead of his then wife, Mary, he wouldn’t have killed himself.

So, if I had $30,000+ just sitting around, I might enter the fray and bid on this letter, but I fear I’m going to have to let it go to some other fervent Hemingway fan.

I’ve read many of Hemingway’s letters. They are fun and he is quite funny and clever in them.  His humor rarely comes through in his novels.

 

I think the line that I’ve quoted above – I forget you sometimes as I forget my heart beats.  But it beats always – is so him.  It’s very simple and yet it speaks volumes.

HOW DRIVING AMBULANCES IN WW I INSPIRED HEMINGWAY

Hospital after mortar injury

How driving ambulances during World War I inspired Hemingway
By Michael Riedel March 19, 2017 

Several major artists and innovators of the 20th century served as volunteer ambulance drivers during World War I, shaping their experiences on the battlefield into groundbreaking works.

The carnage horrified poet E.E. Cummings, who drove an ambulance in France. He would go on to fracture his verse the way bodies were fractured in the trenches. He poured his anger at the senselessness of war into letters back to the United States — and found himself in a detention camp for subversives. He recounted his imprisonment in his novel “The Enormous Room.”

W. Somerset Maugham, who trained as a doctor, did not flinch from the horror. He picked up body parts and treated gaping wounds with cool detachment, the kind of detachment he would later use to dissect the emotional lives of his characters in novels such as “The Painted Veil.”

Somerset Maugham

At 16, Walt Disney was too young to enlist, so he volunteered for the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. He was sent to France and had little contact with the wounded. He spent most of his time drawing. “I found out that inside or outside of an ambulance is as good a place as any to draw,” he said.

While training to be a driver, Disney befriended Ray Kroc, another patriot who was too young to enlist and had chosen to be an ambulance driver instead. In the 1950s, Kroc would become one of the country’s best known businessmen when he turned McDonald’s into a fast-food empire.

But the deepest friendship to develop in the ambulance-driver ranks was between Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. They shared not only an occupation but a desire to revolutionize American writing — that would last until the ideological battles of the 1930s tore it apart.

the young author

Their relationship is detailed in James McGrath Morris’ new book, “The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War.”

John Dos Passos

“The world was shattered, and Hemingway and Dos Passos explicitly felt they would have to write about life in a different way,” Morris told The Post.

Dos Passos had poor eyesight that made him unfit for combat, so he joined the volunteer ambulance corps. He had to pick his way through corpse-filled trenches at Verdun, writing in his diary, “Horror is so piled on horror there can be no more.”

Hemingway tried to enlist in the army, but he, too, failed vision tests. He joined the Red Cross and was dispatched to an ambulance unit on the Italian front. He met Dos Passos over a dinner of rabbit stew and red wine at a hospital near Schio.

A mortar cut short Hemingway’s service. He spent the rest of the war in a hospital, where he fell in love with a nurse who inspired the character of Catherine Barkley in “A Farewell to Arms.”

Agnes and Hem

Dos Passos had a very different experience. “[He] carried buckets of body parts and suffered a mustard-gas attack. For him war was senseless and crushing and must be opposed,” Morris said.

After the war they both lived in Paris, spending hours in Left Bank cafes discussing art, books and their desire to revolutionize American literature.

The friendship showed signs of fraying, especially when Dos Passos urged Hemingway to join left-wing causes that Hemingway eschewed. But they continued to spend a lot of time together fishing — and drinking — in Cuba and the Florida Keys.

key west house

The break came during the Spanish Civil War. Dos Passos, while staunchly anti-fascist, began to sour on the left-wing government of Spain, whose main ally was the Soviet Union. Hemingway supported the government in its battle against General Franco and the ­fascists.

When a friend was killed in the war, Dos Passos suspected (with good reason) that the communists had murdered him. Hemingway told him, “Don’t ask questions,” Morris writes.

In 1964, decades after the Spanish Civil War and three years after his own death, Hemingway exacted revenge on Dos Passos with the posthumous publishing of his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.” He depicted Dos Passos as a parasite who lived off rich friends.

As Morris writes, “War forged their friendship, but in the end ­another war took it from them.”

Young man with all of it ahead

Hemingway and the Russians

With all of the talk about politicians and Russian connections, there has also been in the news recently much discussion of Hemingway’s Russian connections. It’s interesting to me since this information has been around, open, and in all biographies, yet seems to be presented as a new finding. I’m an amateur student of Hemingway and this is what I’ve known:

On Pilar
  1. From 1942 through the end of the war, Hemingway conducted a furtive group, which he in Hemingway self-mocking fashion, called the Crook Factory. It was established with the permission American diplomat Robert Joyce. In essence, Hemingway and buddies observed local happenings that might be tied to German subversion, submarines, surveillance. It was observed by Spruill Braiden, also a diplomat, that Hemingway had a knack for “charismatic convincing, an astonishing ability to recruit to the cause local folks you might understatedly call mixed company, i.e. bartenders, wharf rats, down-at-heel pelota players and former bullfighters, Basque priests, assorted exiled counts and dukes, several Spanish loyalists.”His wife at the time, Martha Gellhorn, wanted him to be more importantly and directly reporting on the war. She saw the “Crook Factory” as an opportunity for Hemingway to go out on his boat and get drunk with his pals. However, this is not exactly news.

    Happier days, Hem and Martha
  1. Hemingway was left-leaning. In the Spanish Civil War, he wrote and contributed financially to the opposition to Franco, which just happened to be the leftists and Russians, who were fighting against Franco.

    Hem and Martha
  1. Prior to 1935, Hemingway was not particularly politically active or vocal. He was moved to the left when in the aftermath of a hurricane in Florida (he was still in Key West in 1935), he saw World War I vets living nearby and doing construction under Roosevelt’s New Deal. Very bad conditions became worse when the hurricane hit. He observed that “heroes were dead and left half-naked to float in the Atlantic.” He felt the government should be doing more for its people.

    on the Pilar

For some reason, the recent writings have put some sinister cast on Hemingway’s activism. In terms of the times, the Russians were our allies in World War II, and there was nothing sinister about it, although Hemingway did get on the FBI watch list as a result. He was not a fan of Fidel Castro, although he did hope for the best and tried to keep a low profile so that he could remain in Cuba unmolested. Ultimately, that turned out to be impossible.

In August 1944, Hemingway was in Paris during the liberation and his ego made him unpopular at times with some. He did join the tank line heading toward Paris in Rambouillet and was present at the liberation of Paris. Although he went to France as a war correspondent for Colliers, he didn’t have to put himself in any danger but he did. There have been criticisms that he took too much control at times, and/or that he had a disproportionate amount of liquor available to him. Andy Rooney, who was also in France covering the allied efforts as a foreign correspondent for Stars and Stripes, a military newspaper, disliked him. He called him a “jerk.” Hemingway was like that. Either his bigger than life presentations inspired you and was fun or it turned you off and you were wary.

Paris liberation

Still, I’m not quite sure why Hemingway is now portrayed as some sort of collaborator in a bad way. At that time, you were for or against the Nazis, and he was against them. So please read about it and decide for yourself.

Hem on beach

 

HUNTER THOMPSON AND HEM’S STOLEN ANTLERS

 

Hunter Stockton Thompson (18 July 193720 February 2005) was an American journalist and author famous for his flamboyant writing style, known as Gonzo Journalism, which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and non-fiction. At the age of 67, suffering a bout of health problems, Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

A good cigar
A good cigar
Hunter Thompson
Younger Hunter Thompson

Who knew?  More than 50 years ago Hunter Thompson was visiting Hemingway’s Ketchum, Idaho home and pilfered a set of trophy elk antlers.  In mid-August 2016, his widow, Anita Thompson, gave the antlers back stating that Hunter had always been embarrassed that he had taken them.

“He wished he hadn’t,” she said.  “He was young, it was 1964, and he got caught up in the moment.  He talked about it several times, about taking a road trip and returning them.”

The Ketchum, Idaho community library has been a repository for things that Hemingway used and that were from his Ketchum, Idaho residence.  The antlers were returned to the Idaho community library and ultimately shipped to Hemingway’s grandson in New York City.  For years, the antlers hung in the garage of Hunter Thompson’s home outside Aspen, Colorado.

Hem writing a by-line from Idaho
Hem writing a by-line from Idaho

The taking of the antlers has been local lore for a number of years and apparently now the antlers have found a final home within the Hemingway family.

Trivia to be sure, but kind of funny/sad too.

 

Love,

Christine

 

Hello Papaphiles!

 

Working at the Finca
Working at the Finca

HemHello Hemingway readers and fans!  Every four months, I post my opening post for those just joining in. For those who stop in regularly, I sincerely and truly thank you for reading and for being interested in Hemingway 55 years after his death and 117 years after his birth. So here is my opening post to acclimate you to what will be happening here.

  Love and thank you, Christine

 

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

What Will Be Happening Here? 

This will be a place to talk Hemingway and any topics related to him and his life.  That gives us a lot of material: writing, Paris, divorce, relationships, Key West, Cuba, Idaho, fishing, boats, bulls, boxing, cats, horses, dogs, the Midwest, movies, other writers.  Anything else?  Oh right, drinking, awards, depression, friends, cruelty, generosity.  Heard enough? Well, there’s still politics, women, religion, Fidel Castro, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Africa. Done yet?  Uh, no. we’ve still got mothers, hair, sexual ambiguity, sons, daughters, actresses, sex, suicide, death, clothes, honor, hygiene, the IRS, psychiatrists.

And what would Papa say about a blog?  Hmm, well, if I wanted to pull a page from Woody Allen, I’d say that he’d say: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure. He was a journalist first and foremost and he kept up with the times so I think he’d be amused.

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

So what qualifies me to write this blog?  Not too much that’s going to impress you. All I can say is that I love him, just as he was, flawed and fabulous, mean-spirited bully and most gracious of men, driven wordsmith and drunken raconteur, bigot and egalitarian, all of it.  I’m no scholar. I’ll leave that to Timeless Hemingway, www.timelesshemingway.com, which does a superb job and is an unparalleled resource. However, I’ve read them all many times: the books, the short stories, the analyses, the biographies, the women, even the Hemingway cookbook which I actually cook from (the trout is delicious). I’m just an obsessed fan, uncluttered by the need to be neutral.  I hope to learn from you too.

Finally, I find him fascinating, complex, and yes, manly but I think he actually “got” quite a bit about women contrary to popular myth. That’s a topic for another day. Also a topic for another day is why the mask above on the lovely woman. Also a topic for another day is what do we call him in this blog?  Ernest, Ernesto, Wemedge, Nesto, Ernie, Oinbones,Papa, Tatie, Hem, Hemingstein, Hems, or just plain Hemingway? We’ll see. Perhaps we’ll put it to a vote. I have a Hemingway party on his birthday every year (July 21) and I’ll take a poll there too and let you know the results.

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn
The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

Of course, none of my friends “get” it and think Hemingway was that guy who wrote in short sentences and wanted to fight with everyone and run with the bulls.  They are partially right and mostly wrong.  But hey, you can’t throw away old friends just because they don’t really read or have an informed opinion about Hemingway–or can you?

These posts will be short and fun (I hope). I try to post at least every two weeks. I hope it’s enjoyable for Hemingway people as well as for casual observers. I’ve looked at the other blogs about Hemingway. Most are terrific but there still is room for a lighter take and for the unending discussion about why we continue to read him fifty-four years after his death. And if you have to ask . . .

Check me out when you have a chance. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Hem, Hadley and Bumby

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Me
Me
A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms

.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN Theory of Writing

I just read an article about writers who make themselves physically uncomfortable—perhaps consciously or unconsciously—as a spark to their creative juices. I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago about the strange writing habits of some writers and this is a variation on that theme. Below I will give you the cite for the whole article, but here are a couple of interesting points.

No Pain, no gain.
No Pain, no gain.
  1. Some writers do all of their drafts in the font Courier for the “brutally utilitarian shape of its letters and mono spaced characters marching across the page.” Somehow they feel that when it gets transformed into New Times Roman or Arial in the final version, it looks vastly better and more professional and feels polished compared to the draft.

 

  1. As you all know if you follow this blog, Hemingway often wrote standing up. This was in part due to pain from the plane crashes and in part, he liked it. However, just as often, I see photos of him working at a large rustic table or at his dining room table.

    Writing and not standing
    Writing and not standing

3 Vladimir Nabakov liked to write in his car, hopefully while parked.

 

  1. Friedrich Schiller kept a bunch of rotting apples in his desk that filled the room with “eye watering stench.”

 

  1. Wallace Stevens jotted lines on to scraps of paper while working.

 

  1. Walter Scott wrote while on horseback. This is puzzling.

 

  1. Victor Hugo hid all his clothes save for a grey shawl to prevent himself from leaving the home until he was done meeting his writing requirements.

 

  1. Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day. I would think that would make him get up and down an awful lot.

 

  1. Truman Capote “couldn’t think unless he was lying down and described himself as a completely horizontal author”.

 

The theory is that discomfort promotes creativity. I’m not sure.

 

Do you have any weird habits? I feel lucky if I can sit down in front of a fire with the dogs and just write. A glass of wine is welcome, but optional.