Concussions and Suicide (Some photos added by me). Best, Christine

Did Ernest Hemingway Succumb to CTE? PBS Doc Explores His Ill-Fated Concussions

The great American novelist died more than 40 years before the discovery of the degenerative brain disease

In the beginning of the end for Ernest Hemingway, as a 1954 trip to Africa is called in the new PBS documentary “Hemingway,” the great American novelist breaks his skull for the second time in his life during a plane crash in the outback.

Trapped as flames spread to the cabin, Hemingway is forced to use his head as a battering ram to create an opening in the twisted metal of the plane’s wreckage.

It’s the last of at least five major concussive head injuries that Hemingway sustained throughout his adult life and punctuates a growing problem. This time, his symptoms include slurred speech, double-vision and recurring deafness.



The Ken Burns documentary on Hemingway features two themes — his fascination with shotguns and his many concussions — that foreshadow what’s to come. Hemingway was long assumed to have suffered from a mental illness such as biploar depression, exacerbated by his progressive alcoholism and other substance abuse. But he died more than 40 years before the discovery of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE, as the brain disease is commonly known — and for which repeated concussions are a hallmark — could explain Hemingway’s fate.

CTE has been linked to the suicides of former NFL players Junior Seau and Dave Duerson and former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, and further, the sociopathic behavior and suicides of Aaron Hernandez and Jovan Belcher. But outside of the 2017 biography “Hemingway’s Brain” by Dr. Andrew Farah, it has not widely taken root as a theory to explain Hemingway’s suicide.



Buried at the Ketchum Cemetery in Ketchum, Idaho, it’s impossible to know now whether CTE played a role in Hemingway’s demise (a CTE diagnosis requires a postmortem scan of brain tissue). And while Burns and fellow “Hemingway” director Lynn Novick explore Hemingway’s concussions throughout the three-episode documentary, CTE is not broached.

“The last few weeks in Africa he just lost all restraint,” Hemingway’s son Patrick, now 92, says in the documentary. “And for someone as powerful, he — I really had enough. And we never saw each other again.”

Later that year, after the African trip, Hemingway’s diminished mental capacities are unmistakable when he is named the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Back at home in Cuba, he was physically unable to travel to Sweden to accept the award, so the Swedish ambassador traveled to him. Photos for the event catch a smile that conveys a lucid stream of thought and forthright happiness. But in a rare TV interview with NBC after the award was announced, he struggles mightily. He agreed to do the interview only if the questions were provided in advance. And his answers are written on cue cards.



“The book that I am writing on at present is about Africa, its people in the park that I know them,” he says in a black-and-white video, slowly and methodically, when asked about a potential next book. “The animals – comma – and the changes in Africa since I was there, last – period.”

Hemingway’s history of concussions began in World War I as part of the experiences he would use to write the 1929 novel “A Farewell to Arms.” Hemingway, an ambulance driver on the Italian front, had grown adventurous and began running minor supplies to the front lines. During one of his supply sorties, a trench mortar exploded 3 feet away.

In Paris in 1928, Hemingway mistook a hanging skylight string for a toilet cord after a night of drinking with friends. The skylight crashed onto his head. He would wear a famous forehead scar for the rest of his life.

with Bumby

There was a fall from a fishing boat near Cuba, and a serious car accident in London during World War II that required 57 stitches. Hemingway’s head smashed through the windshield and “his skull was split wide open,” according to the PBS documentary.

He was discharged from the hospital after four days, but the injury had been much worse than what was feared — a subdural hematoma, or bleeding between the brain and the skull. Blurred vision, ringing in his ears and chronic headaches resulted and persisted for nearly a year, and Hemingway began having trouble recalling words and writing legibly.

In another World War II incident, a German artillery round knocked him off a motorcycle. He flew into a ditch and his head struck a rock. A car accident years later in Cuba left him with another concussion.

Hemingway was also a boxer as a young man and played football into high school, when football helmets offered little to no protection.

“The symptoms of post-concussion syndrome were clearly described by Hemingway in various letters after different injuries, particularly after the fall on his fishing boat, and after the World War II concussions, and certainly after the plane crashes,” the author Farah said in a 2017 interview.

Erratic and violent behavior increasingly became the norm for Hemingway. That included falling in love with an 18-year-old and conveying to friends and associates he had reached a peak creatively.

“Hemingway had convinced himself he was writing better than ever. He was not,” narrator Peter Coyote says in the documentary.

He also would discuss suicide and even act it out in front of friends. In Cuba, the documentary says, with friends over for dinner, he would put his shotgun on the floor, put his finger on the trigger and put the barrel in the roof of his mouth.

“And everyone would listen to it go click, and he would lift his mouth off the barrel grinning,” the narrator says.

Hemingway was eventually admitted to the Mayo Clinic. And after thoughts of suicide reclaimed their grip, he was later readmitted. Hemingway, 61, was then again discharged despite his wife’s misgivings.

The next week at home, he shot himself in the forehead with a double-barrel shotgun.

“I was pained and grieved,” says the late longtime U.S. senator, John McCain, who revered Hemingway. “But you know, I think there are times when – I don’t agree with it, but it’s understandable – why he decided to end his life when his talent had left him.

“We sometimes talk about people and we idolize them and we give them every virtue and no vice — he had lots of vices,” McCain says. “He had tons of vices. He was a human being. And that, my friend, erases a whole lot of other, what may be, failings in life.”

Hemingway and his “thing” for Women’s Hair

Famous Couple
Maria and her Robert

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Everyone’s commented on it:  Hemingway’s preoccupation with women’s hair.  Hemingway’s mother, Grace, whom he purported to hate, had auburn hair that was her pride and joy.  She wore it often in the Gibson girl style of the day and was quite proud of it.  In almost every work of fiction that Hemingway has written–and nonfiction if you want to count A Moveable Feast–the time spent on the description of any of the main woman’s character’s hair is significant.

Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises had short, swept back hair.  She wears it cut “short like a man.”   Catherine Barclay had soft hair and “wonderfully beautiful hair.  “I would lie sometimes watching her twist it up in the in the light that came in the open door and it shone even in the night as water shines sometimes just before it is really daylight.” From A Farewell to Arms.

Maria, whom Robert Jordan called the rabbit because of her short-cropped hair cut off by the Fascists who gagged her with her own braids which was growing out, had hair the “color of wheat.” See above, Ingrid Bergman as Maria. Gary Cooper as Robert Jordan. In The Garden of Eden, the wife cuts her hair to match her husband’s and they both are attracted to the same woman.  The Garden of Eden, however, was published posthumously and as I’ve noted in earlier posts, I don’t think the same standards can be applied to something published after the author’s death since clearly he hadn’t felt it was ready to be published at the time of his death.  A huge editing may have This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fullsizeoutput_85e.jpeg in the offing.L2008.87 025

In his actual life, Hadley had lovely red hair.  Shortly after their marriage she cut it short.  It’s not clear whether she did so to please Hemingway or just for ease of care after she had Bumby.  Hemingway seems to be one of the few men who prefer women with short hair.

Hadley when older
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pauline and pixie cut

Pauline had a boyishly short pixie cut.  She had very dark hair and it was quite stylish on her.  Hemingway liked it.  At one point during their marriage, when he was clearly attracted to Jane Mason, a socialite and a stunning, legendary strawberry blond, Pauline dyed her hair blond and arrived home with this completely new look.  There is no record of whether Hemingway liked it or reacted to it but she didn’t keep it blond for very long.

Martha had swinging long, blond hair when Hem met her which at times was shorter.   This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is f4ad5707b68ba5ff072bc3e299eb2e28.jpg had short, swept back curly blond hair that framed her face.

From their first meeting, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein were simpatico.  They did have a falling out several years later and despite the fact that Gertrude Stein clearly was living in a lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas, he maintained that there was a true animal attraction and that at least from his end he would have liked to have consummated the relationship had the situation been different.  He describes Gertrude as having lovely dark immigrant hair and the sentiment is one of admiration.  Her hair also was short and swept back at times, a style Hem favored, and at other times, longer and pinned up.Gertrude Stein and Bumby

Scholars have pondered for years about whether this preoccupation came from the fact that Hemingway’s mother dressed him in girl’s clothes from a young age.  She often represented to outsiders that he and his sister, Marcelline, were twins (they were about a year apart) and Grace maintained his hair at a feminine length.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is images-2.jpegThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Hem-as-toddler.jpg.  On occasion she called him Ernestine until he was about 6-years old.  At that point he rebelled and demanded a hair cut and boy’s clothes as well as to be called by his real name.  We can get psychological about the implications .

While too much can be made of this element of Hemingway’s writing, it is something to think about and it is an interesting theme that runs through the novels in particular.

Not a great hair day
Not a great hair day
I have beautiful hair!
I have beautiful hair!

Wife # 5? Adriana Ivancich

This is an update from a post i wrote a few years ago. I thought since i dealt with the wives recently, I’d give  Adriana her place. Thank you all readers. I appreciate it so much that you come here to learn more about Hem and to comment. I learn too from all of you. Best, Christine

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Adriana look alike

Hem was infatuated with Adriana. She seems to have been fond of him but did not return love. In fact, at times, it seems that his interest embarrassed her and she turned from it. It was an open secret that he modeled Renata in Across the River and into the Woods after Adriana. 

Hem and Adriana met when she was an ingénue of nineteen and he an icon of forty-nine. She was lovely in an old world Venetian way, not a modern girl look. From an aristocratic family in Italy that was no longer wealthy, Adriana met Hem through her brother who hooked up with Hem at a bar and they struck up a friendshipThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hem-and-her.jpg

Harry’s Bar

As is to be expected, Mary came to resent Renata.  She and her mother visited them in Cuba and stayed quite a number of months. Mary first tried to be motherly and charming until she saw that Hem’s interest was more than casual. He became abusive to her, as if wanting her to leave.  Mary however was made of stronger stuff. She liked being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway but not just for the reflected glory.  She loved him.  She loved him and their life. She made clear that she wasn’t leaving and he needed to deal with this girlThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Adriana.jpg

Hem is reported to have told more than one person that he was too old to divorce again and it would cost him too much. Adriana had no interest in marrying Hem but she seemed to like the attention and adoration.  In 1980, some nineteen years after Hem’s suicide, Adriana wrote a book called The White Tower ostensibly to tell her story of the relationship. She said,


“I let the scandal freeze into oblivion and my sons grow up but I owe this book to Papa. This was a responsibility I had to face. I am the missing link in his life.” With all due respect to Adriana, I don’t think she was the missing link in his life.  It’s a bit grandiose to think so.

The book did hit the best seller list in Italy with the omnipresent photo of Adriana leaning into Hem’s chest shyly.  At the age of fifty, she claimed,

“What happened when we met is a little more than a romance. I broke down his defenses; he even stopped drinking when I asked him to. I’m proud to remember I led him to write The Old Man and the Sea.”

Across the River has long been considered Hemingway’s worst novel. “Yes, naturally he wrote it for me, thinking of me, but I didn’t like the book and I told him so,” Adriana says. “I always criticized him when I felt something was wrong, and he changed, and something in me changed too. I shall never stop being grateful to Papa for that.”

Thinking about implications

Adriana committed suicide in 1983. Are you seeing a theme here?


Mary Welch Wife # 4

As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand. Ernest Heminway

Mary Welch was the only one of Hemingway’s wives who was not from the St. Louis area. She was from Minnesota, was a journalist in her own right, had been married twice and was married to Noel Monks when she met Ernest Hemingway in London.  Ernest was still married to Martha but things were not good.  Martha often referred to him as “the pig.”This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 95015827_119487546394698_6668844777615654912_o-1-1024x576.jpg

Mary was not tall, about 5’2, stocky, brown hair, and blue eyes. Her features were sharp and she was smart.  As usual, the relationship started out well and full of laughs and fun.  Hem still could be biting and sarcastically caustic when all was not going well.  Mary took it all.

Hem took her to the finca in Cuba, a bit awkwardly since it had been his place with Martha.  Gigi was cool to her initially. He loved Martha. Patrick also loved Martha and found it hard to adjust to another new love. However, he liked seeing his father have some order in his life and Mary was nice.  Jack, charming and adaptable, found Mary easy company and could fit in well with her without compromising his loyalties to Pauline and Martha as well as to his own mother, Hadley.

Hem with boys and cat

Hem filed for divorce against Martha on grounds of desertion and the divorce went through on December 21, 1945.  The sting of her rejection stayed with him always.  Martha read about the divorce in the newspaper, although she didn’t care. She was anxious for the divorce to begin and be done.  No alimony, no financial orders.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bca7a01aa74e2e3d12b457227800923c.jpg

Mary had doubts about marrying Hem.  He was . . . not easy.  And yet . . . he could be wonderful.  Hem, sensing her drift away, sent flowers and love note. They married in Cuba on March 14, 1946.  Fights ensued as did a pregnancy at Mary’s age 38, advanced age for 1946.  She longed for a daughter for Hem. An ectopic pregnancy with crisis and quick, brave action by Hem ended with Mary surviving, and owing that survival to Hem.

Mary in older age

Mary was with him in Ketchum and suffered through Papa’s health declines, his paranoia, his slump and success with The Old Man and the Sea, his rejection, his calling her a scavenger and that she had the face of Torquemada. She suffered through the whole Adriana infatuation. Both however reported an excellent sex life and Hem had earlier complained of Pauline and Martha in that department.


At times, Hem’s drinking increased, then he’d stop for a while on doctor’s orders. Mary was bewildered and badly hurt. However, she wanted to continue to be Mrs. Hemingway for mostly good reasons. She loved his children; she loved him; she loved the position; she was dependent on him financially. Still, she was protective to the end of Hem and his legend.

As Papa became more mentally unstable, Mary did her best. At the end, Hemingway was released from the Mayo Clinic against Mary’s wishes.  The day after his release, Hem got up early, got his favorite gun, and shot himself in the head.  Mary reported it as an accident while cleaning a gun.  It clearly wasn’t.  She nurtured the Hemingway legacy as long as she lived and set up the Hemingway collection in the Kennedy Library.  She did her best under trying circumstances with little complaint and with dignity.

Ketchum, Idaho

Did Hemingway Have a Favorite Wife? Hadley

Hem and Hadley near their wedding

Did Hemingway have a favorite wife?  Of course he did despite each wife having suited him at the time he married each.

Hadley near the time of her wedding

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.

The Paris Wife

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.

Hem, Hadley, Bumby skiing in Europe

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.  

Almost married to Hadley

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.

Hem, Hadley, Bumby

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.


Interview with Hem in Spanish after Nobel Prize

This is interesting . It’s in Spanish and you can tell that Hemingway was enunciating carefully and considering his answers.  It seems that he really tried to be gracious about his fans although he was not thrilled with the publicity after the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes.

Hemingway Myth #2: Mr. Hemingway Drinks a little

Harry's Bar
Harry’s Bar

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,

Drinking and working with cat

“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?”

William Faulkner
William Faulkner

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, “the cafes, 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.

Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris
Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

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

Martini: drink of choice
Martini: drink of choice

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)

A Scotch sour and a breeze!
A Scotch sour and a breeze!

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.

Drunken people crossing
Drunken people crossing

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.

Up in Michigan: Hemingway Country. Dear Readers: My friend and fellow Hemingway fan, Don, called my attention to the below article. I loved it and hope you enjoy it too. I added a few more photos. Best, Christine

Following Hemingway: Motorcycle Adventure on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula

By William M. Murphy – July 9, 2014

Lake Charlevoix
Walking along the channel connecting Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan is a relaxing way to watch boats and view the Great Lake.

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 Michigan
Hemingway’s story is kept alive in various northern Michigan locations through plaques and historical markers.

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.

upper peninsula

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.

Legs Inn
A rare treat—enjoying an empty parking lot at Legs Inn, enabling me to take some photos and wander the grounds to see the many interesting displays.

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.

Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay
Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay is a beautiful sight on a serene summer day.

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.

Horton Bay General Store
The “Repeal 18th Amendment” sign and the many antiques in the Horton Bay General Store reflect the long history of this fascinating place.

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.

The statue unveiled last year in Petoskey, Michigan of Young Ernest Hemingway

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.

railroad depot, Petoskey’s
Once a busy railroad depot, Petoskey’s refurbished station now houses historical artifacts of the region’s fascinating history.

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.

Michigan motorcycle route
Map by Bill Tipton/

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.

The young couple who honeymooned On Walloon Lake

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.

HMM. Not sure about this but love works in mysterious ways. Some are admittedly a bit cute. Best, Christine

10 Marriage Proposal Ideas For Couples Who Love To Read

By K.W. Colyard20 hours ago

Want to pop the question, but have no idea how to go about it? If your partner is a big ol’ book-lover, consider one of these 10 marriage proposal ideas for readers. Telling someone how ardently you admire and love them has never been easier.

Sure, most people want to believe that good marriage proposals just fall into place — that because the couple are right for one another, the words will come out flawlessly. Even though it often takes just the sight of their partner on one knee to send someone into tears and squeals of joy, you still want to put in the effort to make sure that the biggest day of your life so far a magical one.

To that end, crafting the perfect proposal can be a daunting task. There are so many questions to ask yourself — Should it be private or in public? Do you want to be alone or surrounded by friends and family? Will you be at home or on vacation? — that you may feel a bit overwhelmed.

Not to worry, though. If your partner is a book-lover, I’ve got 10 perfect proposal ideas that are sure to win their heart. Some of them might take a little planning, but I’m sure you’ll get your happily ever after in the end.

Recreate Their Favorite Scene

If the object of your affections has a favorite scene from a book, whether it’s a proposal or not, recreating it is one thoughtful — and fun! — way to ask for their hand. Whether that means donning your best suit and reciting Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth (not the bad parts) (with better results, hopefully), or going whale watching while pretending to be Ahab and Ishmael, feel free to get a little silly and a whole lotta sappy for this one.

Do It in a Writer’s Bedroom

No, don’t actually do it, but definitely consider popping the question in the home of a famous writer of yesteryear. Included among the writers whose homes are available to tour in the U.S. are Ernest Hemingway (Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West, Florida), Emily Dickinson (The Emily Dickinson Museum & Properties, Amherst, Massachusetts), and Zora Neale Hurston (Zora Neale Hurston House, Fort Pierce, Florida).

Give Them a Copy of a Childhood Classic… But Change the Ending

In 2013, a man proposed to his future wife by having a custom children’s book made to tell their love story. If you know which book was your partner’s favorite when they were growing up, you can easily change or add in a page or two to connect the story to your own journey as a couple. What if Peter Pan came back to grow old with Wendy? Or if Frog and Toad actually decided to tie the knot? Your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with this idea.

Buy Them a New Book, and Include a Custom Bookmark

As a book-lover, I can tell you that there’s almost nothing I’d rather do than browse a bookstore. Order or make your partner a custom bookmark — such as one of these stamped metal ones — containing your proposal, and slip it into the next book you buy for them.

Commission a Custom Book, Just for Them

Of course, if you don’t feel particularly creative yourself, why not find an artist and writer to create a custom book for you, on commission? It certainly isn’t the cheapest proposal option, but it won’t go over poorly with your book-loving partner, I promise.

Slip a Note Inside Their Favorite Book

Speaking of slipping things into books, why not just sneak a note into the book they’re re-reading for the 1,000th time? Make sure it isn’t a hopelessly unromantic moment in the story — proposing in the middle of Beth March’s death might put a damper on the whole affair — and wait for your partner to discover your addition to their current reading project.

Propose While Watching a Beloved Adaptation

Does your partner have a favorite page-to-screen adaptation? It couldn’t be easier to suggest a movie night, then spring the proposal on them when the time is right. As with the note-in-a-book idea above, be sure you aren’t picking the most unromantic beat of the movie as the soundtrack to your proposal.

Write Your Proposal as a Poem, Even If It’s Cheesy

A good proposal will always express exactly how you feel about a person, no matter how silly you may think you sound. If your partner loves poetry, consider writing them a heartfelt poem to read or recite during the big question. Even if you aren’t a great poet, a cheesy love poem that conveys your feelings is better than a dry and boring profession of love.

Ask Their Favorite Author for a Favor

Sure, this is a shot in the dark, but stranger things have happened than a beloved author writing a sweet message to a fan. Like in 2011, when this gamer persuaded the Portal 2 team to make a custom level for his marriage proposal. It couldn’t hurt to reach out to your partner’s favorite writer and ask for a small note or message to help you pop the question.

Take Them to One of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

This could get expensive, depending on how far you live from the world’s most beautiful libraries, but one look at these gorgeous destinations, and your partner will feel as though you’ve whisked them away to the Beast’s library. Just respect your fellow browsers and don’t be too loud, OK?


Josephine BakerI love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?    Ernest Hemingway


The above cite purports to know what should/would be on Hem’s ipod.  Hmm, being a skeptic, I have to ask, “How do they know?”  Still we can speculate.

I see Hem listening to Sinatra.  I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s so 30’s and 40’s elegant. Hemingway called Josephine Baker, the African-American entertainer who emigrated to France around the same time as Hemingway was there,  “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.”

the elegant Ms. Baker
the elegant Ms. Baker

Hem claims he met Josephine Baker in Paris at the best jazz club ever called Le Jockey and that she was there one night:  “tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles.  Very hot night but she was wearing a coat of black fur. She turned her eyes on me and I cut in.  Everything under that fur communicated with me.  I introduced myself and asked her name.  “Josephine Baker,” she said.  We danced nonstop for the rest of the night. She never took off her fur coat.  Wasn’t until the joint closed she told me she had nothing on underneath.” (Papa Hemingway, A.E. Hotchner)

Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker

So I think we can presume that there is some great jazz on his ipod. I’ve seen photos of Papa dancing with Martha so he did enjoy music and dancing, it seems. That was the early 40’s.

In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Harry references a 1933 Cole Porter tune called “It’s Bad for Me”. I have to think that if he referenced it, he was familiar with Cole Porter’s music and he admired it.  In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris,Cole Porter is present at one of the impromptu parties all of which suggests that Cole Porter and Hem crossed paths in a good way in Paris and maybe in NY, although Hem didn’t love NY.Cole Porter

From Hem’s love of Cuba, I see a love of the Spanish blend with Jazz.  So what do you think is on Hem’s ipod?  some cat songs? Speaking of which I’m in the middle of reading Hemingway’s Cats.  Loving it, honestly.  There is also mention of his dogs. I’ll post on this subject some other day.

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana

We know that Hemingway’s mother had him playing the cello–badly if he is to be believed–and I’m sure chamber music was  prevalent in the Hemingway household of his youth. Perhaps, in light of Hem’s dislike of his mother, he never listened to classical music after he left the family womb.

A little Norah Jones?
A little Norah Jones?

I just read a great article in The Paris Review describing Hem’s work room in Cuba.  He stood up to write most of the time, with Black Dog sleeping at his feet for as long as it took. I believe the standing up thing was due to his bad back from the crazy plane crashes he was in.  The article describes the room in great detail down to the book cases, the desk, the shutters but no mention is made of a radio or a phonograph.  I can only conclude that Hem wrote with no accompaniement.  Actually, I just read that although he built himself that studio at the Finca (as part of the cat house) to write (the cats occupied the second floor, his studio was on the third floor), in actuality, he reverted to writing in the house.  He missed the animals and was more comfortable there.

Hem’s great pal, A.E.Hotchner, recalls Hem liking music but does not recall him going to concerts or music events. “He did not like theater, opera or ballet, and although he liked to listen to music he rarely, to my knowledge, attended a concert or any other musicial presentation, longhair or jazz.” A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page. 28.
Still he frequented many a jazz bar with Hem in Cuba.

My life falls apart when I'm awake!
My life falls apart when I’m awake!

Hem liked cigars, women, booze, and pals.  He was a great raconteur. I have to think that music went with it all. I see his ipod being loaded with Sinatra, Santana (if he were around then), Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Duke Ellington. What do you think?  He might even go for a bit of Tim McGraw while out in Ketchum.  Then again, I sure can see a bit of Parrot Head music while in Key West and Cuba. Take it away, Jimmy Buffett. Wasting away again in Margaritaville, looking for . . . .
Cuban JazzWho do you think is on Papa’s Ipod?

Music at Harry's Bar
Music at Harry’s Bar



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