Thursday, May 5, 2011
"Ernesto" - My Favorite Author
In the Spanish speaking world, especially in the former Cuban colony of Key West, he was known everywhere simply as “Ernesto.”
My favorite author, Ernest Hemingway, like him or not, was a legend of the 20th century literary world. There are thousands of tales relating his exploits, and while some are grossly exaggerated, many are accurate. His literature inspired me not only to write, but also to seek adventure throughout my life. I longed to be one of the heroes I grew to admire when I vicariously joined in the journeys of his literary protagonists.
The concept of the “Hemingway Hero” is well-known in the academic and literary world. It does not relate to saving a child from a burning building or jumping on a grenade to save a platoon. It encompasses principles like “grace under pressure,” which ordinary people can practice, heroically.
In Key West, one legend about the author surrounds his favorite bar stool. Apparently, when Hemingway frequented the watering hole of his friend and fishing buddy who owned Sloppy Joe’s Bar (originally located on Greene Street), he sat upon a stool bearing the words in bold letters, “Reserved for Ernest Hemingway.”
The author would sit at his post at various times during a typical day, penning notes in a journal to the delight of tourists and visiting patrons. Business boomed, and his reward was unusual, but fitting for his lifestyle. Upon his exit from the drinking establishment each day, Hemingway drove away with a jeep full of booze, on the house.
Long after his demise, visiting tourists continue to seek an opportunity to sit upon the famous bar stool of the master, but discover, according to the present owners, it was stolen many years ago. However, I don’t believe a word of it. My research fails to reveal any such theft. In my opinion, I sat upon that perch myself once or twice, sipping a club soda, thinking of Papa.