Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hemingway's Birthday Celebration


“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”
                                     ~~ For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

By Doc Lawrence

John F. Kennedy Library Collection
KEY WEST- The guy is still around. His island home here stays packed and reminders of him are omnipresent. Less than a hundred miles south in Havana, Ernest Hemingway is just as popular and revered.

Today is the birthday of the Nobel Prize winner and his fame keeps on growing. Hemingway, the man who said “there is no friend as loyal as a book” was always bigger than life anyway.

The lines can be long at his home, easily the most visited place in Key West. Everything remains in place and you can even buy some interpretive art from sidewalk artists. I have a one called “Papa with a Hangover.”

A visit to his homes in Key West and Havana is an immersion in books, typewriters, Picasso paintings and celebrity mementos. His limestone wine cellar maintained during his residency on the island was believed to be Florida’s best-stocked private collection.  Papa, as he was universally called, had a love for life that was nearly as strong as his fascination with death, dominant themes in classics likes The Snows of Kilmanjaro and For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Papa's Key West Home

John F. Kennedy Library Collection
Hemingway adored women and disdained weak men. His boat, the fishing cruiser Pilar, was named for the strong gypsy woman, the bravest soldier in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Friendships included Ingrid Bergman, Marlene Dietrich, Karen Blixen and Gertrude Stein. His admiration for Ava Gardner landed her career-making roles in The Sun Also Rises and The Snows of Kilmanjaro. 

A Key West tradition, Hemingway Days is an almost weeklong celebration on this island that needs no reason to party. Papa was special: One of their own, writing, entertaining, fishing and taking time to have cocktails with friends including the rich and famous.

Whether composing novels in his Whitehead Street writing studio or fishing for big game in local waters, Papa left a powerful legacy in Key West. His zest for life, literary accomplishments and enduring affection for the island fuels the celebration.

Events include literary gatherings. One hosted by Papa’s granddaughter, author Lorian Hemingway, is the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, a recognition of the work of emerging writers. There are book signings, academic lectures, a Marlin fishing tournament, a Papa look alike competition (there are hundreds of contestants) and more.

Enjoy a few “Papa Dobles,” Hemingway’s Daiquiri. Here, in the Conch Republic, wishing Papa a happy birthday is a family tradition.

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