Hemingway: Where He Lived, Drank, Wrote
Ernest Hemingway lived, drank, fished and wrote in many locales around the country and the world. One of his most celebrated haunts is Key West, Florida, where the late writer’s birthday is marked each July with a Hemingway look-alike contest and other festivities, some held at one of his favorite bars. But fans following the Hemingway trail will also find museums, homes and other places connected to him in Illinois, Idaho, Arkansas and Cuba.
Here’s a list.
This year marks Key West’s 34th annual Hemingway Days celebration, planned for July 15-20, “http://www.hemingwaydays.net”>www.hemingwaydays.net.
The “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest starts July 17, at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the writer’s hangout at 201 Duval St. About 125 bearded contestants compete during preliminary rounds July 17 and 18, with finals July 19.
Also July 19 is the “Running of the Bulls” with man-made bulls on wheels, a nod to the bull run in Spain Hemingway described in “The Sun Also Rises.” Other events include a 5K run, paddle-board race and marlin-fishing tournament, July 16-19, honoring Hemingway’s love of deep-sea fishing. Winners of a Hemingway short story contest will be announced July 18 at Casa Antigua, 314 Simonton St., where Hemingway first lived in Key West.
The Hemingway Home at 907 Whitehead St., where he lived from 1931 to 1939, offers daily tours, www.hemingwayhome.com. (The home and grounds are famous for housing many six-toed cats, just like a cat Hemingway once owned.)
The Custom House Museum, 281 Front St., has a Hemingway exhibit as well.
Hemingway was born July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Ill.
He left at age 18 to become a reporter at the Kansas City Star, reportedly disparaging his hometown as a place of “wide lawns and narrow minds.” Fans can visit the home where he lived for six years, along with a museum, on Oak Park Avenue, Sunday to Friday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m., www.ehfop.org.
Oak Park marks his birthday with a celebration the evening of July 19 themed on “Hemingway’s Paris,” with cocktails, food, music and readings. On July 20, kids can decorate cardboard bulls for a “run with the bulls” event.
Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, often visited her family home in Piggott, Ark. Today the site is the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, restored to how it would have looked in the late 1920s and ’30s. The property includes a barn-turned-studio where Hemingway sometimes wrote. Hemingway was also friendly with Pauline’s uncle Gus, who purchased the Key West home for his niece and her husband. The Piggott museum at 1021 W. Cherry St. is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturdays 1 p.m.-3 p.m.; hemingway.astate.edu.
Shortly before his 62nd birthday in 1961, Hemingway killed himself, putting a shotgun to his head in the small entryway of his final home in the mountain resort town Ketchum. The house, owned by The Nature Conservancy, is closed to the public, a stipulation Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, made in donating it after her death in 1986.
The Community Library runs an annual Ernest Hemingway Symposium, this year Sept. 4-6, with tours of Hemingway haunts, lectures and skeet shooting.
A mile away is Sun Valley Resort, where Hemingway wrote much of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in suite 206. The room has a bronze bust of Hemingway, a typewriter and photos, and can be rented through August for about $600 a night. Starting in September, the hotel begins renovations and the room won’t be available again until mid-June.
He’s buried in the Ketchum Cemetery, surrounded by graves of locals he befriended.
Travel to Cuba for Americans is mostly limited to organized cultural exchanges called “people-to-people” tours, but some tours have included Hemingway landmarks in Havana. Visitors are not allowed inside the house at Finca Vigia, his sprawling hilltop estate, but if you manage to go when the grounds are open, you can peer through windows at his typewriter, library, hunting trophies, even a collection of half-full liquor bottles preserved as he left them. His fishing boat, the Pilar, sits poolside on the lush grounds.
Hemingway’s preferred watering hole was El Floridita bar, the Old Havana birthplace of the daiquiri, where legend claims he once downed 13 doubles in one sitting. Bartenders mix up a cold one each day and set it next to a statue of the author. La Bodeguita del Medio, home of the rum-and-mint mojito cocktail, is famous for encouraging customers to write on the walls. Framed and hanging behind the bar is a reproduction of a note supposedly written by Hemingway: “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.” Hotel Ambos Mundos preserves the room where Hemingway stayed as a mini-museum.
Across the Bay of Havana in Cojimar, a sleepy fishing village, Hemingway found inspiration for “The Old Man and the Sea.” La Terraza, a restaurant he liked, has a bust of “Papa.”