It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it. Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway killed himself on July 1, 1961. It’s sad to think about but he was true to himself to the end. His great companion, A. E. Hotchner, who just passed away himself within the past several months, wrote an essay about the death and I attach the link here.
Hotchner met Hemingway while doing a story for Cosmopolitan, which was about the future of everything: art, music, theater, and literature. They asked a young journalist to go down to Cuba and interview Hemingway. I won’t repeat what I’ve written before about their meeting.
Suffice to say for this post that Hotchner remained to the end a trusted confidant, hell-raiser when necessary, collaborator on projects, and loyal friend. As he notes in his article, he dramatized many of Hemingway’s stories and novels for TV and the movies, and they traveled through Europe together often.
Hotchner, in his article, notes that Hemingway called him in May of 1960 from Cuba. Hem had been asked by Life magazine to cut a 92,000 word article down to 40,000. A month later, Hem had only cut out about 534 words. He asked Hotchner to come to Cuba to help him. He did go and got the job done, but Hotchner noted that Hem was “bone tired and very beat up.” He assumed that after a period of rest, Hem would be back to his hale old self.
Much has been written about Hemingway’s paranoia and the last year of his life. He felt that the feds, the FBI, the IRS or all were following him and out to get him. During dinner with Hem and Mary (Hemingway’s fourth wife), Hem indicated halfway through the meal that they had to leave because two FBI agents at the bar were watching him. At the time Hemingway was working on A Moveable Feast, having difficultly, although most of the Paris sketches were all set and down on paper. He often spoke of suicide. His father had killed himself.
During the last eight months of Hemingway’s life, he received eleven electric shock treatments at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. During a short release, he attempted suicide twice with a gun; on a flight to the Mayo Clinic, he tried to jump from the plane. When it stopped in Casper, Wyoming, for repairs, he tried to walk into the moving propeller.
When Hotchner visited him in June, he’d been given a new series of shock treatments and insisted that his room was bugged. When Hochner asked him, “Papa, why do you want to kill yourself,” he replied, “What do you think happens to a man going on 62 when he realizes that he can never write the books and stories he promised himself? And do any of the other things he promised himself on the good days?” Hotchner noted that he’d written a beautiful book about Paris and Hem replied, “The best of that I wrote before. And now I can’t finish it.”
When Hotch suggested he could relax or retire, Hem noted, “How does a writer retire? Everywhere he goes he hears the same damn question: what are you working on?”
The irony is that decades later in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the FBI released its Hemingway file. J. Edgar Hoover had placed Hemingway under surveillance because he was suspicious of his activities in Cuba. Agents filed reports and tapped his phones. The surveillance continued all through his confinement at St. Mary’s Hospital and it’s likely that the phone outside of his room was tapped after all.
Hotch ends the article noting that he believes Hemingway truly sensed the surveillance and that it contributed to his anguish and his suicide.
The above borrows heavily from the article by A. E. Hotchner, so I urge you to read it directly. Hotchner also wrote the wonderful book “Papa Hemingway” and “Hemingway and His World.” I love his writing and his view of Hem as a true friend, not just as “Hemingway.” There’s not a better source, in my opinion, for getting a real flavor of what it was like to be part of Hemingway’s posse and inner circle.
Did Hemingway have a favorite wife? Of course he did despite each wife having suited him at the time he married each.
Hemingway had four wives: Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Walsh. Of the four, three were from the St. Louis area. Only Mary was from elsewhere—Minnesota. Hadley was the great love of his life, in my opinion. Surely in retrospect, based on A Moveable Feast, she was.
Hadley and Hem were married on September 3, 1921 in Horton Bay, Michigan, and they spent their honeymoon at the family summer cottage, which featured significantly in Hemingway’s early short stories. Hemingway’s biographer, Jeffrey Meyers, noted in his biography that, “with Hadley, Hemingway achieved everything he had hoped for with Agnes: the love of a beautiful woman, a comfortable income, a life inEurope.” (Agnes was Agnes Von Kurowsky, his nurse in Italy who was the prototype for Catherine Barkley, the heroine of A Farewell to Arms). He called her Tatie or Hash.
While the Hemingways had little money as they headed to Paris, Hadley’s modest trust fund sustained them. They had a small apartment, as well as a rented studio for Hemingway’s work, plus an abundance of expatriot and European friends, most of whom were writers. Gertrude Stein’s salon was nearby and she was a mentor, although ultimately there was a falling out.
One of the great dramas of their marriage occurred in December, 1922, when Hadley was traveling alone to Geneva to meet Hemingway there (he was covering a peace conference), and Hadley lost a suitcase filled with Hemingway’s manuscripts. One can only speculate about what impact this ultimately had on his writing. At the time, he was devastated. As any writer knows, you can never recreate the first cut. However, scholars opine regularly about whether the loss enabled him to start from scratch and do a better job or whether it was an irreplaceable loss. Clearly, he did okay despite . . .
Still, Hadley was there at the beginning before he was the famous Ernest Hemingway. She was there during the ever-productive Paris years, which proved to be a touchstone gift that kept on giving. She funded his ability to write in Paris, enabling him to eventually at warp speed finish the first draft of The Sun Also Rises in six weeks.
To Hadley’s dismay and hurt, she never figured significantly as a character in any of Hemingway’s books, which did tend to be based on actual people in his life. The fictional memoir, The Paris Wife, paints Hadley as wounded that she was written out of The Sun Also Rises while starring Lady Brett Ashley, who’s based whole hog on Lady Duff Twysden.
Hadley settled into married life as a wife and mother, but trouble was not far away. She and Hem met the charming Pfeiffer sisters. Although initially Hemingway thought Jinny was the more attractive, it was the petite Pauline, a writer for Paris Vogue, who ultimately captured his attention. As Pauline played the role of loyal, jokey pal to both Ernest and Hadley, she set her cap for Hem and he fell hard.
Now it was Hadley’s turn to be devastated. Initially, she resisted a divorce but later agreed. Their son, John aka Jack aka Bumby, was about 4 years old at the time. Hadley graciously accepted Hemingway’s offers of the royalties fromThe Sun Also Rises as child support and alimony. At the time, she had no way of knowing whether those would amount to anything. As of that date, Hemingway’s writings had not created much money at all so for all Hadley knew, this new style of novel might do little in the way of sales.
Of course, the rest was history. Hadley and Hemingway divorced in January of 1927. The Sun Also Rises was published shortly before the final formal divorce. Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer in May of 1927. When The Sun Also Rises was made into a film, profits from the film also went to Hadley.
Hadley and Hemingway remained friendly throughout their lives.She and Hem didn’t socialize, but they were in touch regarding their son, Jack, who was known in the family as Bumby).
Hadley stayed on in France until 1934. Paul Mowrer was a foreign journalist for the Chicago Daily News. She’d known him since the spring of 1927. Mowrer was no light weight himself, having received the Pulitzer Prize as a foreign correspondent in 1929. Hadley and Paul married in London in 1933. The Mowrers ultimately moved to a suburb of Chicago.
After the divorce from Hemingway, Hadley saw Ernest only once again although they wrote to each other regularly. She and Paul Mowrer ran into him while vacationing inWyoming in Sept 1939. Hadley died on January 22, 1979 in Lakeland,Florida. She is the grandmother of Mariel and Margaux Hemingway, who are the children of Jack/Bumby.
Did Hem have a favorite wife? Hell, yes. Her name was Hadley.
Actually he drank a lot but it didn’t start out that way. He drank socially although significantly. He did not drink while working. On one occasion when asked by a journalist if he drank while writing his novels and short stories, he said,
“Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”
Hi favorite drink, contrary to some claims, was not the mojito, but a very dry martini, very very cold. He also, contrary to other claims, did not invent the Bloody Mary (the claim being that it was named after his fourth wife, Mary), during what was to be the equivalent of a period of drinking celibacy and that he used the tomato base to disguise the vodka. Good story but not true.
Drinking began early, probably at age 17 and then more drinking while in Italy during the war. Then, once he moved to Paris with Hadley, “thecafes, bars and bal musets became rallying points, look around the table and you might see the brightest minds of the Lost Generation—F. Scott Fitzgerald insanely drunk on champagne, Ezra Pound sipping absinthe, Gertrude Stein enjoying a fine red, James Joyce savoring scotch and Ford Maddox Ford sending back a brandy for the fourth time. They drank up liquor, they drank up life, they drank up each other.” Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich.
Hem was highly critical of Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking in their salad days, claiming it sapped Scott’s creativity, in addition to Zelda doing the same. He was annoyed by Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and occasionally criticized his writing in public. Hem and Zelda hated each other and there was never a détente in those feelings. Hem clearly did not see himself falling deeper into the alcoholic lifestyle as the years passed.
By the time Hem left Paris, his drinking habits had changed. “Where before he’d been a classic binge drinker, he now kept a steady bottle-killing pace. The transition had taken place just months earlier, after Hadley had lost a trunk containing most of his early work, literally years of labor. Crushed, Hemingway turned to alcohol as a means of drowning his bitter rage—when the anger came, he would slip down to the cafe and drink brandy and carouse with friends until happiness seeped back in. Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich
Hem also had fun with it. When Jigee Viertel revealed one evening that she had never had a drink of hard liquor, Hem was astounded. When she indicated a desire to try one, he suspended all that he was doing to consider whether Jigee— now in her mid-thirties— should end her tee totaling and if so, what the proper first drink was. Hem thought she should at least try a drink. He ran down options from a Bloody Mary, to a Manhattan to various gimlets. Finally he decided only a Scotch Sour would do. Jigee broke into a smile at the first sip, and Hem said, “It’s a good omen.” (A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page 60-61)
Hem brought his own booze to Spain or had it supplied; he kept it on his boat in great abundance. While he went through periods of abstinence, it never lasted and it was his pacifier of choice. My own reading leads me to think that initially, he became gregarious but once a certain point was passed, he perhaps became overly verbose and cantankerous. There is that thin line between wonderful raconteur and domineering ego-maniac who keeps going to the point of becoming a boor and a bore. I don’t know if that was so in Hem’s case but I think it happened in the later years.
Sadly, alcoholism did play its role in Hem’s demise and decline. It appears to have ravaged other relatives after him too. Sad to consider other works that Hemingway may have written absent depression and alcoholism.
The below site talks about Hem’s drinking and some specifics. Interesting article. Check it out.
The largest collection of Hemingway letters and memorabilia is in Boston, Massachusetts at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Mary Welch Hemingway, Hem’s fourth wife, made that selection. While Hemingway and John Kennedy never met, Kennedy respected Hemingway’s writing and person. In his own Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, Kennedy cited Hemingway’s description of courage, writing that, “This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues — courage. ‘Grace under pressure,’ Ernest Hemingway defined it.”
Hemingway was invited to President Kennedy’s inaugural address but he had to decline due to ill health. The inauguration was in January 1961 and Hem died in July 1961. While there was a ban on travel to Cuba in 1961 due to the tension from the Bay of Pigs incident, Mary was permitted to return to the Finca, their home in Cuba, to retrieve papers and personal possessions after Hemingway’s death. The Kennedy Administration worked to make this possible. Fidel Castro personally promised safe passage for Mary so that she could collect and ship artwork, notes, letters, and beloved possessions.
There were many suitors for these prized items. Mary maintained her connection with the White House and was the guest of President and Mrs. Kennedy at the White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners in April, 1962. Hem was honored as one of America’s distinguished Nobel laureates and Frederic March read excerpts from the works of three previous Nobel Prize winners, Sinclair Lewis, George C. Marshall, and Hemingway – the opening pages from his then-unpublished Islands in the Stream.
In 1964, Mary contacted Jacqueline Kennedy and offered her husband’s collection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which was still in the planning stage with the intent that it be a national memorial to John F. Kennedy. The collection included drafts of various novels of Hemingway, rewrites, and a sense of how he wrote and revised.
In 1972, Mrs. Hemingway deeded the collection to the Kennedy Presidential Library and began depositing papers in its Archives.
On July 18, 1980, Patrick Hemingway, Hem’s older son with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dedicated the Hemingway Room in the JFK Library.
I’m going to visit it again in a few weeks. If any of you have been, I’d love to hear your impressions. I always get a thrill seeing a photo that I haven’t seen before. It makes it all come alive for me anew. The building itself is modern, a short cab ride away from Fanneuil Hall in downtown Boston, on the water and still being developed. For those of us who love and follow Hemingway, it is worth the detour. There was the original notes that Scott Fitzgerald gave Hemingway for The Sun Also Rises. That will give you shivers.
Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. Ernest Hemingway
MYTH 1 Hemingway cultivated the macho image because he wasn’t really.
Actually he really was all that and more. Macho that is. While we can quibble about what macho means, for the purpose of this post, I’m defining it as what is typically deemed manly, not terribly sensitive, and swaggering. Webster’s defines it as ” characterized by qualities considered manly, especially when manifested in an assertive, self-conscious, or dominating way.”
He was all of that although Hem had tons of sensitivity or he could not have written as he did.
There is no doubt that Hem was brave. In book after book that I’ve read, Hemingway is admired and lauded for true bravery. He was self-sacrificing in Italy as an ambulance driver going back for the wounded when he could have chosen not to. The wounds from Italy stayed with him all of his life.
He was crazy but courageous in Pamplona. That was all in youthful fun. It was more serious in the Spanish Civil War. While a journalist in Spain, during the civil war, his steadfast nerves during bombings and his intent focus on getting the story out in as true a form as possible, and helping others who were in jeoparday, are all legendary. (Martha Gellhorn by the way was equally brave. She was in the thick of it and a stalwart. Hem loved that about her and their love truly blossomed while in Spain and in the midst of war. Both behaved very admirably.)
While living in Key West and then Cuba, Hem ran the “Crook Factory” and trolled the Carribean with his cronies for German subs and bombs. They could have been blown up themselves. While perhaps Hemingway was a bit of a boy looking for adventure, he was not a coward. He liked his comforts but was ok roughing it too. When in China with Martha on a trip he had not wanted to take, Martha hated the dirt, the rustic accomodations, but that did not bother Hem at all. He was happiest talking to the locals at a pub, or in a simple home. He was no snob. Usually by the time Martha got home, an entourage was assembled and drinking, much to her distress. And then there were the plane crashes. More on that in another post.
Still he was real, strong, and brave. No phoney there although he could exaggerate. Other myths will be discussed although not necessarily next week. I’ll surprise you. Write to me please about your favorite myths. Also many of you out there know more than I do so chime in if I’ve got it wrong or if you think he was a phony. I’m interested.
A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not. Ernest Hemingway
Who knows what’s real?
“According to those who knew him well, Hemingway was a sensitive, often shy man whose enthusiasm for life was balanced by his ability to listen intently.
That was not the Hemingway of the news stories. The media wanted and encouraged a brawnier Hemingway, a two-fisted man whose life was fraught with dangers. Hemingway, a newspaper man by training, was complicit in this creation of a public persona, a Hemingway that was not without factual basis, but also not the whole man. Critics, especially, but the public as well, as Hemingway hinted in his 1933 letter to [Maxwell] Perkins, were eager ‘automatically’ to ‘label’ Hemingway’s characters as himself, which helped establish the Hemingway persona, a media-created Hemingway that would shadow–and overshadow–the man writer.” (Michael Reynolds, “Hemingway in Our Times.” The New York Times, July 11, 1999)
The mask above which i chose when setting up this blog seems indicative of a great portion of Hemingway’s life and his characters. We all think of Hemingway as the great hunter, aficionado of bull fighting, guns, and fishing, everything that is macho and, in modern culture, these are interests bordering on offensive to many. I think Hemingway would admit readily that his image took over who he was although the image was part of him, too and he mined it regularly.
A collection of letters recently presented to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, generously established by his widow Mary, has been cited in several articles recently for their disclosure of a much more tender side of Hemingway. In particular, one letter recounted his grief at the death of one of his cats. In February 1953, Hemingway wrote to an Italian friend about the death of his beloved cat, Uncle Willie. The cat was found with its two right legs broken and Hemingway needed to shoot it to put it out of its misery. The same day, a tourist arrived at his door. “I still had the rifle and explained to them that they had come at a bad time and to please understand and go away,” Hemingway wrote from Cuba. “But the rich Cadillac psycho said, ‘We have come at a most interesting time just in time to see the great Hemingway cry because he has to kill a cat.”
The fifteen new letters in and of themselves have an interesting history. The letters were written to Gianfranca Ivancich, a long-time Italian friend of Hemingway’s and the brother of Adriana Ivancich, who is believed to be Hemingway’s late-in-life muse, particularly for Across the River and into the Trees. The letters have never been published and claim to reveal a gentle side to the writer. The John F. Kennedy Library purchased the letters from Ivancich whom he met in Italy in a hotel bar in Venice in 1949.
“There is this very machismo image of him which is what everyone knows” said Susan Wrynn, the Curator of the Libraries of Ernest Hemingway Collection. “These letters bring a great deal more of depth to his personality. It’s charming.” Hemingway in the letter goes on to note that while he has had to shoot people, it was never anyone “I loved for eleven years nor anyone that purred with two broken legs.” It’s a sad tale but also shows a side of Hemingway that has had little exposure.
John Kennedy was a fan. Although he never met Hemingway, in his Profiles in Courage, Kennedy cited Hemingway’s definition of courage: grace under pressure. Kennedy had invited Hemingway to attend his inaugural but that was in January 1961 and Hemingway was not up to it. He respectfully sent his apologies. He died in July 1961. The library’s Hemingway Collection is the largest repository in the world of his manuscripts and letters with more than 2,500 letters written by him and 7,500 letters written to him. When Wrynn went to Italy to pick up the letters, she had a six hour layover in Heathrow inLondon describes a very nervous experience guarding of the file folders that were in her carry-on. It’s a bit reminiscent–and I’m sure this passed through her mind–of Hadley losing Hemingway’s early manuscripts on the train.
In any event, these letters arrived safely.
All this leads me back to masks. Jake Barnes of The Sun Also Rises had the mask of being able to woo Brett when he couldn’t; Brett had the mask of the philanderer when she yearned for some sort of stability–or did she? Robert Jordan was a warrior in For Whom the Bell Tolls but really all he wanted was to find a little quiet spot in Madrid with Maria. The idea of the persona behind the mask is a recurrent one in Hemingway and is played out in his personal life. Thus, I chose it for my header.
Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it-don’t cheat with it. Ernest Hemingway
Is it just me or are we seeing Hemingway everywhere? And don’t you have to “recede” to make a comeback?
In the movies: Hemingway and Gellhorn
Midnight in Paris
In books: The Paris Wife, Mrs. Hemingway, Love in Ruins
In the news: Alternate endings to A Farewell to Arms
The Cats in Key West
The Revised Moveable Feast
His Great Grand-daughter who is modeling
The Ethan Allen Hemingway Collection
But is anyone reading him? Is his image yet again over-shadowing his writing?
As Roger Ebert wrote in an article about being well-read or actually on the tragedy of not being well-read:
Consider: who at this hour (apart from some professorial specialist currying his “field”) is reading Mary McCarthy, James T. Farrell, John Berryman, Allan Bloom, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Edmund Wilson, Anne Sexton, Alice Adams, Robert Lowell, Grace Paley, Owen Barfield, Stanley Elkin, Robert Penn Warren, Norman Mailer, Leslie Fiedler, R.P. Blackmur, Paul Goodman, Susan Sontag, Lillian Hellman, John Crowe Ransom, Stephen Spender, Daniel Fuchs, Hugh Kenner, Seymour Krim, J.F. Powers, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Rahv, Jack Richardson, John Auerbach, Harvey Swados–or Trilling himself?
Ebert went on to talk about a professor and his last legacy:
I’ve written before about the mentor of my undergraduate years, Daniel Curley, he of the corduroy pants, Sears boots and rucksack. In English 101 he assigned us Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, James, Forster, Cather, Wharton, Joyce, Hemingway. I still read all of them. In 1960, he told us, ‘What will last of Hemingway’s work are the short stories and The Sun Also Rises.’Half a century later, I would say he was correct.
I have to disagree. I think that For Whom the Bell Tolls is his masterpiece; I think The Dangerous Summer remains an amazing memoir of a summer following the bullfight circuit–and I hate bullfighting ; and while not his best writing (and I have a peeve about critiquing writers who are published posthumously when by definition, the writer DID NOT intend the book for consumption in its abandoned form), A Moveable Feast is fun, fascinating, and interesting. Is The Snows of Kilimanjaro counted as a short story? I’m not sure but it stands the test of time for impact and weight.
I am sorry if no one is reading Hemingway anymore because he is the source and core of much of the writing at the end of the twentieth Century. I have seen his work rise, fall a bit, and rise again. I have no doubt that as fashions change in writing, selected Hemingway will always be read for its impact, its game-changing style, its vigor.
Iconic author Ernest Hemingway followed his own path in a distinctively adventurous manner. I’ve compared his approach to life to that of motorcyclists, pursuing adventure on lonely ribbons of asphalt, willingly exposed to difficulties they could have chosen to avoid.
There are easier and more comfortable ways to experience life, but Hemingway, and motorcycle riders, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hemingway spent considerable time in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and many of his stories are based on events he experienced here. Riding a motorcycle is the perfect way to retrace Hemingway’s wanderings, visiting the same places he enjoyed as a youth and later as a veteran recuperating from wounds suffered in World War I.
I begin my ride in Charlevoix, on the coast of Lake Michigan. Kickstand up early on a perfect morning, I ride U.S. Route 31 north over the drawbridge that spans the channel connecting Lake Charlevoix with Lake Michigan. A couple miles north of town, urban traces are left behind as I ride east on Boyne City-Charlevoix Road, en route to the historic hamlet of Horton Bay. As it winds through a lush countryside of forested hillsides, the road hints at the motorcycling adventures that this ride offers.
After 10 pleasurable miles, I roll into Horton Bay. Hemingway spent many summers here and hung out at the Horton Bay General Store, my first stop. Built in 1876, the store was the center of social life a century ago; if only those walls could talk! Subsequent owners have kept the building much as it was and it is like walking onto a set for a 1920s movie. Besides buying the basics, a visitor can get a homemade lunch, or perhaps an ice cream cone. After a visit with the owner, I retire to the front porch and sit on a bench used by Papa, gazing upon sights he would have seen. This village was important enough to Hemingway that he married his first wife here in 1921.
After the relaxing break, I fire up my Harley-Davidson Road King and backtrack a half-mile to Horton Bay Road (C-71), riding it north to U.S. Route 31 and Little Traverse Bay. The hilly blacktop conveys me past orchards and farmland, with plenty of forested land to provide an “up north” flavor. The air is pure, the sky is blue and my surroundings are grand. Cresting the final hill before U.S. 31, I’m presented with a spectacular view of the bay with sailboats speckling the sky-blue water.
The highway soon delivers me to Petoskey and there are several historic locations here that I want to visit. The first is an old railroad depot, now the Little Traverse History Museum with a Hemingway display. This impressive building is reached by turning left onto Lake Street from U.S. 31. Jesperson’s Restaurant, at 312 Howard Street, is my next stop. This place was Hemingway’s favorite eating and socializing spot when he lived in Petoskey for several months. It is still noted for its home cooking and delicious pies. After a walking tour at other downtown sites, I saddle up and continue north.
East of Petoskey, I turn onto State Route M-119 toward the well-groomed municipality of Harbor Springs. North of Harbor Springs, M-119 is known as the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route, a well-known destination road for Midwest motorcyclists. For more than 20 miles, the narrow strip of asphalt, perched on a bluff high above Lake Michigan, sculpts a path of extreme curves and amazing scenery. Admiring the view must take a back seat, however, as full attention is required when carving the curves on this road. It is narrow, has no shoulder and trees line the edge of the pavement. Traffic is minimal and I have the road nearly to myself on this beautiful early morning as I lean through the many curves, working the clutch, throttle and brake in a choreographed dance that every motorcyclist knows well. To say this road is a blast to ride is an understatement.
M-119 ends at Cross Village where I stop to admire Legs Inn. This unique restaurant, specializing in large portions of Polish food, is a destination for many who ride the Tunnel of Trees. Plan to arrive hungry for lunch or dinner. I continue north on North Lake Shore Drive, enjoying more curves through a forested backdrop. At the Sturgeon Bay Trail intersection, I turn left to stay on Lake Shore Drive and soon cross into Wilderness State Park. I unexpectedly find myself riding through a landscape of sand dunes—a distinctive feature of Lake Michigan’s eastern shore.
Lake Shore Drive becomes Lakeview Road and heads east, merging with County Road C-81, which I ride north. Its winding and pleasant path, with many views of the big water, eventually delivers me to Mackinaw City at the southern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge.
I explore Mackinaw City on foot and buy some fudge made famous by local confectioners, putting a portion in my saddlebag for a snack later in the day. Enjoying a rest at the marina, I watch ferries carrying so-called “fudgies” to Mackinac Island, and thrill at the sight of a Great Lakes freighter gliding under the bridge between its two massive towers.
Overcoming inertia, I resume my quest by riding east on U.S. Route 23 along the beautiful Lake Huron shoreline toward Cheboygan. Two miles east of that port city I turn onto County Road F-05, which meanders southward along the Black River and past Black Lake. In 1919, Hemingway escaped to this area in a friend’s Buick, trying to recover physically and emotionally from war wounds.
I ride for many very enjoyable miles on F-05, through forests and farmland that is slowly but surely reverting to its natural wooded state. The lightly traveled road eventually delivers me to State Route M-68, which I follow westward on its sweeping curves. I soon cross the Black and Pigeon rivers, both of which Hemingway knew well. He considered the Black River the best brook trout stream in Michigan and fished it several times. A century ago this land was cut over and blackened by fires. The scars are gone and much of the area today is preserved as the Pigeon River Country State Forest. M-68 eventually brings me to the town of Indian River and Old U.S. Route 27, which closely follows the Sturgeon River, another of Hemingway’s favorites. My powerful two-wheeler carries me southward on the gently curving asphalt of this historic byway through a land of sparkling waters and verdant forests. The ride is especially rewarding since nearby Interstate 75 carries virtually all the traffic. At Wolverine, I stop at a restaurant/tavern called BS & Company that caters to motorcyclists and is known for good food and friendly service. Hemingway and his companions camped here on one of their trips, enjoying meals of freshly caught trout.
This is elk country, so I keep my eyes peeled for these large ungulates, and their smaller more troublesome cousin, the whitetail deer. Curves and hills become more pronounced and eventually I cruise down a long slope, the V-twin burbling effortlessly, and see a sign for County Road C-48, the road I am to ride westward. C-48 is a joy to ride, possessing the qualities of those special routes sought by motorcyclists. It is called The Breezeway and wends its enticing way through a beautiful landscape.
Eventually I reach U.S. 31 again and turn back north toward Charlevoix. This popular motorcycling route, with occasional spectacular views of Lake Michigan in this vicinity, was once a dirt path called the West Michigan Pike, carrying Chicago tourists to Michigan resorts.
After an unforgettable ride of 206 miles I arrive back at Charlevoix. It’s been a day when I have had to think hard to come up with new superlatives to describe the marvelous natural and manmade attractions and history of this remarkable region. It comes as no surprise to me that Hemingway, who had the wherewithal to explore the best that the world had to offer, counted this small corner of the planet as one of his favorite places. If you ride a motorcycle, I’m sure you’ll agree with him.
(This Favorite Ride: Two-Wheeling with Hemingway was published in the July 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)
Sunset Park in Petoskey offers wonderful views of the bay, as well as impressive rock bluffs and gardens.
Route C-48 (also known as the Breezeway) carves an enjoyable path through the northern Michigan countryside.
The Red Fox Inn and the Horton Bay General Store, both built in 1876, are mentioned in Hemingway’s 1923 short story, “Up in Michigan.”
The welcome mat is always out for curious travelers or serious students of Hemingway at Horton Bay General Store.
Dear Readers: The below is also by Nicolaus Mills, a Hemingway Scholar. All very interesting. Media photos added by me. Best, Christine
Nicolaus Mills chairs the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College. He is currently working on a book about Ernest Hemingway and his World War II circle.
The Real Message Of Hemingway’s ‘New’ Story
What has led Jordan to abandon the comfortable life he was leading in America is the prospect of the Loyalist defenders of the Spanish Republic being overwhelmed by a fascist cabal relying on foreign aid. During the Spanish Civil War, America was neutral as a result of a bill President Roosevelt signed on May 1, 1937, banning the export of arms and ammunition to the warring parties in Spain.
By contrast, neither Germany nor Italy saw any reason to remain neutral when they believed they had much to gain from helping a fascist ally. As historian Adam Hochschild notes in Spain Is in Our Hearts, his account of the Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the German and Italian contributions to Franco were immense and gave both nations a chance to test out weapons they would use in World War II.
Some 19,000 German troops and instructors saw action in Spain or helped train Fascist troops, and nearly 80,000 Italian troops fought for Franco between the start of the Spanish Civil War and its conclusion. The Soviet Union, which for a period identified itself with the Loyalists, provided only limited aid by comparison.
For Hemingway, who made four trips to Spain to report on its Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance, Jordan was an admirable figure who reflected what was best about the 2,800 Americans who went to Spain to fight on the Loyalist side. Jordan knows that the Loyalist side he is on is capable of great cruelty. He is no fan of the Communists who are part of the Loyalist alliance. But Jordan sees the flaws in the fascists as so much greater than those of the Loyalists that he does not back away from the commitment he has made to the war.
In this commitment Jordan mirrors Hemingway, who in a 1937 letter described the Spanish Civil War as “the dress rehearsal for the inevitable European war.” Hemingway raised money in support of the Loyalist side, and with his future wife, the correspondent Martha Gellhorn, who travelled to Spain with him, he went to the White House for a showing of the pro-Loyalist film, The Spanish Earth, before President and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In the end Hemingway had to content himself with doing his best rather than getting the outcome in Spain that he wanted, and so finally must Robert Jordan. What makes Jordan admirable is what made McCain admirable—his unwillingness to sit on the sidelines and watch democracy be undermined.