Hemingway Died 52 years ago today

I knew a man who met Hemingway. I worked with him during my first semester of trying to become a writer. John Rember wrote about his brief encounter with Papa Bear in his book Traplines. I love this little story so I thought I’d put it here for others:

In the early spring of 1961 a friend and I were making a snow fort on Warm Springs Avenue in Ketchum, Idaho, when Ernest Hemingway walked up and began staring at us.

After a few minutes he said, “What are you doing?”

We replied that we were making a snow fort.

A little while after that he said, “Hello, boys.”

We said hello.

“What are you doing?” he said again. We had already answered that question. He stared at us in silence for a while and then hobbled down the road.

It was the post-shock-therapy Hemingway. He was gaunt and crazed and looked a hundred years old. If he had been a phoenix, he would have been in flames.

My friend’s father ran a welding shop, and the day Hemingway killed himself Mary Hemingway brought the shotgun into the shop and had it cut into little pieces with an electric hacksaw. She left with the pieces in a canvas bag.

Hemingway’s been a lot to me. He’s been a genius, over-rated, a genius again, a fraud, a man’s man, a coward, a hero, and a great writer. He died eleven years before I was born but I grew up loving his stories. My opinion of him has changed a lot over the years but he’s still someone I think on. So here’s to you, Uncle Ernie. I’ll drink a mojito for you later on and maybe get a bit tight.

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