Sunday, July 25, 2010

hemingway days, key west

Every year, as close to his birthday on July 21st as we can get it, Key West celebrates the life and times of the hard drinking author, adventurer and one time resident of Key West,
Ernest Hemingway.

The Annual Hemingway Days Festival is five days of events that include Marlin Fishing, KeyLime Pie Eating and Arm Wrestling contests, the Lorian Hemingway (his granddaughter) Short Story Competition, a Caribbean Street Fair, and a 5k Twilight Walk/Run.

And of course, there's the unique take on "The Running of the Bulls" and Sloppy's Joe's "Papa Look-A-Like Contest".

Sloppy Joe's is famous for having been Hemingway's favorite watering hole when he lived here in the 1920's and 30's. The "Keys quirky" element in the look-a-like thing is; the town fills with hundreds of white haired and bearded older guys but when Hemingway actually lived in Key West,
he looked more like this. .

than this. . .

Even so, we don't worry about that. We throw the party and enjoy the off-season reason to sell lots and lots of beer.
It's all good.

A handful of years ago I got a bug to do something really "Key Westie" and tried my hand at guiding walking tours of "haunted" Key West. I'd walk a prescribed route around town with a group of "visitors" telling ghost stories.
Somehow, part of the script was about the how and why of Hemingway in Key West.

If I remember it right, it goes something like this. . .

In 1928 Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline, came to Key West on their way to or from Cuba and for one reason or another decided they wanted to buy a car.

So he went to the Ford dealer on Simonton St. - now "Casa Antiqua" - and the vehicle was ordered for him.

Of course in the 20's Key West was really only accessible by sea and shipping a car from Detroit to the end of the earth was going to take a little time.

So the car dealer rented Ernest and Pauline an apartment above the dealership where they lived long enough to have a son and write "A Farewell To Arms".
Then, as the story goes, Hemingway really got into the secluded Key West lifestyle and culture and decided to stay.

After a few years he bought the house on Whitehead St, now the Hemingway Home Museum, shared it with the brood of now famous Polydactyl (6-toed) cats, continued to write some of his best work, fish for Marlin and spend a lot of time at Sloppy Joe's Bar.


Anonymous said...

Nice job on the photo essay. Gonna miss it this year damn it!....Dick Moody ffa

Arthur Winstanley said...

Thanks Dick, see you when you're back on campus.

Banana Report said...

excelent stuff thanks!

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