Monday, March 29, 2021

Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams Stories



by Frank Boles

This blog is one of several we are posting in connection with the PBS documentary, Hemingway, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which will air April 5-7. Be sure to join us on March 31 at 6:30 p.m. for a special introduction to Hemingway when we join with WCMU-Television for an online event featuring Lynn Novick. To register for the March 31 event visit WCMU at wcmu.org/hemingway 

Among Ernest Hemingway’s most memorable characters was Nick Adams, a young man who grew up in northern Michigan. As Joseph M. Flora wrote, “it is safe to say no other character in his fiction is as important as Nick.” He adds, “What was best about Ernest Hemingway emerged … in the character of Nick Adams.”

Nick Adams appears in sixteen stories Hemingway wrote. Readers meet Nick as a small child and see him grow into a young man in stories set in Michigan, learn about his war experiences in Italy, and, after he returns to Michigan, see the effect the war had on him. The stories go on to describe him as a young married man in Europe and even experience Nick as a father talking about his own father.

These stories were originally published in several places over many years and were first compiled as a single volume in 1972, titled The Nick Adams Stories. The 1972 compilation also included eight previously unpublished fragments that give further information about Nick.

Many readers thought of the Nick Adams stories as autobiographical. The similarities between the real Ernest and the fictional Nick are many. The most obvious are that they are both doctor’s’ sons with a mother they find overbearing, they spend their summers in Michigan, a place that they love, and they both live to hunt and fish. Both become writers. But it is a mistake to simply read Nick as Ernest. Hemingway addressed the issue in a Nick Adams story entitled “On Writing,” where Nick, who in this story has already become an author, shares these thoughts about his craft:

The only writing that was any good was what you made up, what you imagined. That made everything come true. … Everything good he’d ever written he’d made up. None of it had ever happened. ... That was what the family couldn’t understand. They thought it wall was experience. … Nick in the stories was never himself. He made him up.”

In his preface to Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan (2010), Michael Federspiel sums up the stories this way:

These stories about a young man’s experiences in northern Michigan resonated with readers on many levels. Those who vacationed “up North” recognized the places and the emotions associated with getting away from home and experiencing the out-of-doors at a relaxed pace. Naturalists dwelled on the descriptions of turn-of-the-century Michigan, and fishermen (and fisherwomen) saw a fellow enthusiast in Nick. Students and teachers pondered the words and style that revolutionized American literature. And many more readers didn’t worry about any literary concerns–they just liked the stories.”

The stories are gripping. Philip Young quotes no less a writer than F. Scott Fitzgerald as saying about, Big Two Hearted River, “It's the account of a boy on a fishing trip. Nothing more – but I read it with the most breathless unwilling interest I have experienced since Conrad first bent my reluctant eyes upon the sea.”

What do these stories say about Michigan? Nick sums up his thoughts about our state in answering his sister’s question of if he is afraid while they walk near Walloon Lake through a surviving Old Growth forest, “No. But I always feel strange. Like the way I ought to feel in a church.” Nick adds, “This is the way forests were in the olden days. This is about the last good country there is left.”

If you have never read the Nick Adams stories, you should. If you have read them, it might be time to revisit the tales. There are few better short reads, few more important pieces of American literature, and no better introduction to Michigan’s “Up North.”

 

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Michigan Hemingway Collection Today


by Frank Boles

This blog is one of several we are posting in connection with the PBS documentary, Hemingway, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which will air April 5-7. Be sure to join us on March 31 at 6:30 p.m. for a special introduction to Hemingway when we join with WCMU-Television for an online event featuring Lynn Novick. To register for the March 31 event visit WCMU at wcmu.org/hemingway .

This summary of the collection is an edited version of the text that was printed in the catalog for the exhibit, The Hemingway Collection in the Clarke, which was held in 2019.


Today, the Michigan Hemingway Collection consists of a wide variety of material.

It is concentrated most heavily on Hemingway’s personal and literary connections to Michigan, but also has a wide selection of first, international, and rare editions of his works, dozens of biographies and books about the locations in which he lived and about which he wrote, along with various movie and other forms of ephemera. The most significant items are those directly associated with Ernest and his immediate family. These Hemingway items, coupled with the Clarke’s holdings of northern Michigan materials associated with the years the Hemingways called it their summer home, make the Clarke Historical Library a one-of-a-kind Hemingway collection.

As to be expected, the collection is rich in books and articles written by Hemingway himself. He wrote 10 novels, 20 story collections, 9 works of nonfiction, and dozens of stories published in magazines such as Life, Esquire, Look, Ken, and Cosmopolitan. The collection has first-edition examples of almost all of these and they range from small privately printed Paris magazines with his earliest Michigan stories to posthumously published novels edited by others.

The jewel of the first editions is undoubtedly Three Stories and Ten Poems. Printed in a limited edition of 300 copies in Paris in 1923, it begins with the story “Up in Michigan.” Three Stories and Ten Poems was a prelude to a career writing important novels.

Hemingway’s most famous short story, “The Big Two Hearted River,” is particularly well-represented in the collection. In addition to a copy of This Quarter, the Paris-based magazine in which it was originally published in 1926, the library has extremely rare copies of fine art print editions. Published in very limited quantities, one version even includes an original watercolor fishing painting. Complementing the published versions of “The Big Two Hearted River” found in the collection is an original postcard Ernest sent his father from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when he was on the fishing trip that inspired the story.

Perhaps no other American writer has had so much written about him as Ernest Hemingway. The Clarke Historical Library has over 250 books and magazines articles chronicling his life, which range from full-length biographies to short feature articles in mainstream and pulp magazines. Especially interesting are the articles in 1950s emerging men’s magazines where his larger than life macho portrayals sold magazines to people hungry to hear of his alleged exploits. He also inspired books written about the locales where he lived and those about which he wrote. On the Clarke’s shelves can be found volumes associated with his life experiences in Oak Park, Michigan, Paris, Spain, Africa, Cuba, and Idaho.

A particularly interesting subset of the Hemingway Collection is the movie-related ephemera. His stories and books resulted in 17 film adaptations beginning with 1932’s A Farewell to Arms starring Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. Over the decades, leading stars such as Ingrid Bergman, Spencer Tracy, Ava Gardner, and Humphrey Bogart all portrayed Hemingway created characters. To promote these films, the studios launched elaborate publicity campaigns that featured striking posters of various sizes and lobby cards to entice the public into theaters. Campaign manuals filled with clip art, text for advertisements, and marketing suggestions were sent to distributors and theaters urging them to focus as much on the fact that the film was associated with Hemingway as the A-list movie stars the film featured. Supplementing these manuals were publicity photos showing the stars in engaging scenes. The Clarke’s collection of these items is colorful and comprehensive.

The printed material and movie-related items constitute a strong Hemingway collection, but the personal papers associated with Ernest Hemingway himself and his immediate family found in the Clarke Historical Library are what make this collection a world-class one for those looking to better understand Hemingway’s formative experiences here in Michigan.

It is estimated that in his life (a time before tweets, instant messages, and emails) Hemingway composed over six thousand typed and handwritten letters. The Clarke Historical Library is home to six of them. All but one in the library relate to his Michigan experiences. The six-page, typed 1919 letter to his World War I supervisor, Jim Gamble, gushes with descriptions of Michigan summers. Another letter informs his family of securing a Petoskey boarding house room where he hoped to write, while an earlier letter updated his parents on the harvest at their northern Michigan farm. While these were not written to the famous people the established author would come to know, they never the less give intriguing insights into how his Michigan experiences influenced him.

The library is also the home of two examples of his unpublished, juvenile fiction, as well as an early example of his editing as a young author. One of the juvenile pieces is “The Sportsman’s Hash,” a fishing story written and illustrated when he was 10 years old, while the other is a longhand multi-page story set in Michigan lumber camps written when he was in high school. Both of these are examples of the hold Michigan had on the young man’s imagination.

More important than these juvenile pieces are four, heavily edited pages for a short story Hemingway was working on in Petoskey during the fall of 1919. Alternately known among scholars as “The Woppian Way” or “The Passing of Pickles McCarthy” these pages show some of the first attempts by the young Ernest Hemingway to write “serious” fiction for publication.

In addition to these Ernest Hemingway items, the library also has an extensive group of personal papers and photo scrapbooks from his sister, Marcelline Hemingway Sanford. The albums, created by Grace Hall Hemingway (Ernest and Marcelline’s mother), include many things, but particularly photos showing the family fishing, entertaining guests, swimming in the lake, and boating. These albums document the Hemingways first Michigan trip in 1898 through Marcelline and Ernest’s high school graduation in 1917. They are particularly interesting in that the images are annotated by Grace Hall Hemingway. This adds greater depth to the stories and personalities of those shown.

The Hemingway Family papers includes far more than those photo albums. In addition to them are early family correspondence and numerous items associated with the publication by Marcelline Hemingway Sanford of her memoir, At the Hemingways, in which she told her version her relationship with her brother. These papers, along with her photo scrapbooks, give fascinating insights into the Hemingway family and its most famous member, Ernest.

In addition to Hemingway Family papers, the Clarke Historical Library is fortunate to have other material that is directly associated with the Hemingway family. It houses photos and photo scrapbooks from his younger sister, Ursula, and a number of books given by and to Ernest’s siblings and parents. All these provide interesting insights into family dynamics and Ernest’s relationship with his immediate family.

While not a member of the immediate family, “Uncle George” Hemingway was a summer and eventually year-round resident at Lake Charlevoix. His family’s guest books and his diaries tell of family guests and visits and, along with Hemingway Family papers, allow us to learn about the family that raised and influenced Ernest.

With the hundreds, if not thousands, of items related to Ernest Hemingway in the Clarke’s Hemingway Collection, scholarly researchers or those simply curious about his life, particularly his Michigan-related experiences and writing, have no better place to visit that the Clarke Historical Library.

 

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Beginnings of the Michigan Hemingway Collection

by Frank Boles

This blog is one of several we are posting in connection with the PBS documentary, Hemingway, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which will air April 5-7. Be sure to join us on March 31 at 6:30 p.m. for a special introduction to Hemingway when we join with WCMU-Television for an online event featuring Lynn Novick. To register for the March 31 event visit WCMU at wcmu.org/hemingway .


The Michigan Hemingway Collection began in 2001 with a conversation between the then-president of the Michigan Hemingway Society, Michael Federspiel, and myself.

The Michigan Hemingway Society (MHS) had been organized years earlier. The members of the society, all of whom admired Hemingway’s writing, also believed that Hemingway was deeply influenced by the summers he spent on Walloon Lake as a boy and young man. But the “standard” biographies of the man gave short shrift to this aspect of his life. The biographies acknowledged that Hemingway spent his childhood summers in Michigan, but suggested that the “mature” Hemingway shook the pine needles from Michigan off his clothes when he boarded the boat for Paris, and sailed to fame. To challenge this narrative, Mike Federspiel made a modest proposal: build on the Hemingway material he had collected, and would donate to the library, to create a nationally recognized body of material in the Clarke about Ernest Hemingway’s life in Michigan.

That proposal was a stretch, a very long stretch. Hemingway was a world-famous author. As with any famous person, once he achieved fame others begin to save every scrap of paper he touched. A letter written by the best-selling author Ernest Hemingway had a good chance of being saved by the recipient, and sooner or later, had a good chance of being made available to collectors. And once he began to write seriously, Hemingway himself became a bit of a pack rat, keeping most every piece of paper on which he had written or more likely typed. But what of things from “Dr. Hemingway’s kid,” Ernie? Young Ernie likely saved little or nothing. Although his parents or family members might have preserved mementos of his growing up, it was unlikely anyone else would take an interest in him. He was, quite literally, just one of the kids hanging around the dock and splashing in the lake.

And, making the happy assumption there were things to collect, purchasing them would likely be expensive. Papers touched by acclaimed literary figures sell for high prices. Winning the Nobel Prize in Literature was about as much acclaim as an author can receive.

After some serious thought, and some serious conversations with the then-Dean of Libraries, Tom Moore, I made the commitment on behalf of the Clarke to accept Mike Federspiel’s gift, and everything it implied. This was going to be a challenge.

With Mike Federspiel to make key introductions, the work went well. There was both material worth collecting that remained in northern Michigan, and a willingness to discuss how that material might come from private hands to the Clarke Historical Library. There were people who expressed interest in helping the project along. To show what we had already collected, and to demonstrate commitment to actually building the collection further, in 2003 we planned an exhibit around our then-existing Hemingway material.

As plans for the exhibit advanced, something unexpected happened – an auction house offered for sale a superb Hemingway letter documenting his love of northern Michigan.

The letter was written by Hemingway in 1919 to Jim Gamble, a friend he had made during his time in Italy during World War I. Gamble had written and invited Hemingway to spend the summer in Italy. Hemingway responded, by saying he would love to see his friend, but he had a better idea about where they could meet. Gamble should spend the summer with him at Little Traverse Bay. Hemingway spent pages describing in luscious detail the place and its attractions. And he shared that he knew all the best places to fish and just what to do to catch the really big ones. Although Gamble never came to visit, the letter was a beautiful description everything Hemingway loved and valued about northern Michigan. But like any content-rich letter written by an important author up for auction was going to cost a lot of money.

We quickly decided that if we were going to spend significant money on something as esoteric as a single beautiful letter written by Ernest Hemingway, we were going to have to raise the money for the purchase from private individuals. Many special libraries acquiring material face this criticism, and the irrefutable answer to the criticism is simple – we obtained it because it was important to what the library was created to document and there were people who cared enough about the item to give us the money to make the purchase possible.

We raised money. But when the auction was held, we came up short. The Clarke Historical Library was the second to last bidder, but there are no consolation prizes at auctions. Auction houses do not reveal the name of the purchaser, but with a heavy heart I wrote a letter to the anonymous successful bidder asking he or she to loan us the letter for the exhibit. I sent it to the auction house asking them to pass it on to the letter’s owner. This they did, and the response was something I could not have imagined. A dealer had bought the letter and while he had no interest in a loan, he would happily sell us the letter, with an appropriate mark up for his trouble. We had a second chance. I asked the dealer to hold the letter for us while we found the needed money, something to which he was agreeable.

The problem was I had already found pretty much every dollar that was to be found. I really didn’t know where I was going to find that extra money. But my request to the amiable, and hopeful, dealer made available an extra week to find the money. Without telling me, Dean Tom Moore, who took a personal interest in the project, made a phone call to a person he knew, a friend of the library but not one with an interest in Hemingway. Dean Moore explained the opportunity, the work that had gone into trying to acquire the letter, and the amount of money we still needed. A few days later, I learned that “some extra money” had been found and we could buy the item.

The exhibit had been designed to put the collection “on the map.” Taking advantage of this sudden opportunity to add an intellectually rich, but financially expensive new item to the collection made it clear that the Clarke Historical Library was seriously committed to growing its Hemingway collection. It also demonstrated something more fundamental. That there was a community of interested individuals who would help make that growth happen.

Over the next eighteen years, the Michigan Hemingway Collection was enriched in many ways. Extraordinary material was added, some given, some purchased, and some obtained by a combination of the two. But all that came afterward, and the future hung in the balance for a few days in 2003. What would follow was made possible because of a visionary donor with a dream, the support of a small number of people willing to put their wallets where their mouths were, and a dean, who picked up the phone at a critical moment, and sold both the idea of building the collection and acquiring as a public legacy that one, beautiful Hemingway letter.

 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Toilet Paper Makes a Mess

 

by Frank Boles

Back in 2019, I wrote a blog about the famous CMU Toilet Paper toss at basketball games. The event, which I wrote began in 1986, received national attention. It turns out, the story is messier than my sanitized version, as Grant Skomski, the now retired assistant director of Residence Life, reminded me.

The first toilet paper toss took place sometime during the early days of the 1982-83 CMU basketball season. But the fad was short-lived. As Central Michigan Life reported on February 14, “What started out as a way to show school spirit turned into a quick trip to the Department of Public Safety for two students during Central's basketball game [on February 12] against Kent State University.” When the police arrived, the ten or fifteen Thorpe Hall residents tossing toilet paper ran but two failed to make their getaway, were arrested, and led away in handcuffs. The police suggested that a charge of disorderly conduct sounded about right to them, although the possibility of adding inciting a riot was not out of the question. In the end no criminal charges were filed.

The student newspaper joined the police in taking a dim view of the 1983 toilet paper toss. It editorialized on February 16:

“TP tossing must stop. While one select group of Chippewa fans see the Athletic Department's attempt to squelch a fad before it becomes tradition as flushing team spirit down the proverbial toilet—we think there may be better ways to channel their energies. It seems a group of Thorpe Hall residents have taken it upon themselves to make tossing rolls of toilet paper after the men's basketball team scores its first field goal the next best thing to the “oooh-waaah” cheer. Although we question the method the Athletic Department used in stopping this action—ejecting the 10 to 15 fans from the game—we do agree it had to be stopped.”

It is uncertain whether it was the threats of criminal prosecution or the disapproval of their peers that changed the behavior of the Thorpe Hall’s men, but what is certain is that nobody tossed any more toilet paper that year at basketball game or at games for several years thereafter.

In 1986, the times had changed. The toilet paper toss was back, and instead of arresting those throwing paper, the toss was garnering the school lots of good publicity. Dave Keilitz, who had become Athletic Director in 1984, was quoted in Central Michigan Life on February 13, 1987:

“It’s something which is unique. Right now, it’s a novel type of thing." Keilitz said. "We have great, great fans. We don’t want to dampen their enthusiasm at all. If everybody were to let fly with the one initial barrage after the first bucket, it’s no problem," Keilitz added. "What has happened in the last two games is it keeps coming."

The reporter and the CMU basketball coach agreed, “the toilet paper toss,” wrote the reporter, “has become something for Chippewa fans to be proud of. As CMU head [basketball] coach Charlie Coles has said, it’s something we do better than anyone else in the country.” The iconic photo of the event, which was published in People magazine, was taken by CMU photographer Peggy Brisbane during the Western Michigan game on February 18, 1987.

The event did lead to some peculiar problems. So many rolls disappeared from the residence halls, that the front desks suddenly had sign-up sheets tracking every request for a roll of toilet paper, and residence hall staff noted how often certain rooms seemed to need new rolls just before or after a basketball game. If penny-pinching administrators could track the use of toilet paper in a residence hall, students quickly realized there were still plenty of toilet paper in public restrooms. Game day, the restrooms in the Rose Arena suddenly had no toilet paper, with the same shortage happening in the bathrooms of the academic buildings. Students were quite enterprising when it came to finding free rolls of toilet paper, but if their hard work failed, local grocery stores usually had toilet paper on sale right before each game day.

Other MAC schools did not share CMU’s enthusiasm for the activity. On December 14, 1987, Central Michigan Life reported that the MAC adopted new rule, specifically aimed at CMU. “All MAC institutions shall take steps to prohibit the throwing of any articles onto the floor during basketball games...” The MAC cited safety concerns, and CMU did concede several pairs of glasses had been broken by flying “debris.” It is probably worth noting that the new rule was adopted unanimously by the MAC, meaning CMU’s representatives also voted for it.

The December 14, 1987 student newspaper went on to report that “Beginning Thursday, CMU officials are planning to halt the toilet paper-throwing ritual at Chippewa basketball games.” Since everyone knew simply asking students to stop would prove insufficient, “All rolls of tissue will be confiscated at the door. Any person who smuggles the toilet paper into Rose and tosses it will be escorted from the arena.”

If it was 1982 all over again inside Rose Arena, this time the afterglow is still fondly remembered by many to this day. As Dave Keilitz summed it up, “It was good while it lasted.”

My thanks to Grant, for nudging me to do more research.

 

Hemingway’s "The Woppian Way or The Passing of Pickles McCarthy"

blog by Michael Federspiel

intro by Frank Boles:
This blog is one of several we are posting in connection with the PBS documentary, Hemingway, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which will air April 5-7. Be sure to join us on March 31 at 6:30 p.m. for a special introduction to Hemingway when we join with WCMU-Television for an online event featuring Lynn Novick. To register for the March 31 event visit WCMU at wcmu.org/hemingway.

The Clarke Historical Library recently acquired a significant fragment of a story Hemingway worked on while he lived in Petoskey. Known alternately to scholars as
The Woppian Way or The Passing of Pickles McCarthy, the typed and heavily edited manuscript shows the young Hemingway, back from Europe and World War I, at the beginning of his career as a writer. Michael Federspiel, a member of the Clarke Historical Library’s Board of Governors and an expert on Ernest Hemingway’s life in Michigan, shared with me the story behind this item.

The latest addition to the Clarke Historical Library’s Hemingway Collection is a manuscript of a story he worked on in Petoskey in 1919. The four-page draft has many corrections to the typed text which are in Hemingway’s own hand. It was created at a significant time in the author’s life and has ties to another important document in the Clarke’s collection – a letter Ernest wrote to his father in October 1919.

In the fall of 1919, Ernest Hemingway was at a crossroads. He had graduated from high school in 1917, went on to spend a year as a Kansas City Star newspaper reporter, and then he joined the American Red Cross and traveled to Italy where he was severely wounded in July 1918. After recovering in a Milan hospital, he returned to America in January 1919 to further recover from his wounds while clinging to hope about a long-term relationship with a nurse who had cared for him. Then in March, he received a letter ending that relationship which sent him into emotional free fall. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, he spent the summer of 1919 healing physically and emotionally. That fall when his family returned to their Oak Park, Illinois, home he decided rather than go off to college or back to newspaper work he would devote himself to writing fiction. Using money received by cashing in an insurance policy, he remained in northern Michigan. As fall transitioned to early winter, he packed his typewriter and left Windemere, his family’s Walloon Lake cottage, and friends at Horton Bay and looked for a room in Petoskey. He found that room in a large white frame house on State Street owned by a widow, Eva Potter, who lived there with her son. Her daughter, a schoolteacher, worked out of town but returned on weekends. Potter must have welcomed the extra $8 a week Ernest would pay her to stay in the upstairs corner bedroom for two months.

We know something about his actions and thoughts at that time thanks in part to a letter already in the Clarke’s Hemingway Collection. It was written by Ernest to his father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway and dated October 28, 1919. He writes from Horton Bay that he has “a room located at 602 State Street where I wish you could forward my mail and anything else. It is small but heated and gives me a place to work…. Brought the typer [typewriter] and am departing with it and all my worldly goods to Petoskey on Thursday (November 1).”

Staying in Petoskey would be a new experience for Hemingway as his summers were typically spent almost exclusively at Walloon Lake and nearby Horton Bay with only occasional day trips to towns such as Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Boyne City. Additionally, Hemingway was a “summer person” and in Petoskey he would encounter year-round residents and businesses. During his two-month stay, he would meet new people, do public presentations about his World War I experiences, and work hard to write publishable fiction.

Some in Petoskey were wary of this unemployed unshaven stranger from Chicago who could often be seen walking around looking “rough” wearing old shoes a Mackinac shirt, and pants, but at the Potters he was warmly received. Mrs. Potter’s daughter, Hazel, remembered the boarder being “big and dark” and “typing away all the time.” Her mother, Eva, provided a pleasant home base for him. As Ernest told his mother in a December 4, 1919, letter, “My landlady here is awfully nice to me. Some days when I come in early in the morning I find a lunch laid out on my table with a Thermos bottle full of hot cocoa. Cake and salad and cold meat. And she sends up pop corn to me. Hot and buttered. She treats me great and in return I try to do things for her downtown and go around and pay her water, electric and telephone bills etc. She does any mending for me that I need too.” His Petoskey days settled into a routine of walks around town, meeting with new friends and, significantly, hunched over his “typer.”

Writing was nothing new to Ernest Hemingway. As a high school student, he had written both for the school newspaper and for its literary magazine and in Kansas City, he had experience as a professional journalist. But the writing which he now was practicing was different – his made-up stories had to appeal to the general public (and even more so, the editors to whom he submitted them). Hemingway had read popular magazines and had a sense of what they contained and tried to emulate the writers’ style and topics. It was tough going and frustrating as rejection notices were delivered to him.

Thirty-five-year-old Edwin Balmer, a future editor at Redbook magazine and publisher author, who lived in Chicago but summered at Walloon Lake agreed to help the aspiring writer. He agreed to critique what Ernest had written and on the back of one story manuscript, he wrote the name of several magazine editors who he thought might be interested in young Hemingway’s work. Abandoning his Kansas City journalistic style, Ernest focused on fiction publishable in popular magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post or Everybody’s Magazine and he valued Balmer’s opinion and his contacts.

One particular story, The Woppian Way, was getting a lot of Hemingway’s attention. Set in Italy during the War, it featured an Irish protagonist who gave up a promising boxing career to join the Italian army’s Arditi battalion. Hemingway likely started this story in Oak Park and brought it north with him as he struggled to get it just right. In that October 28, 1919 letter, he tells his father, “This afternoon I worked out the new front part of the ‘Woppian Way’ that Balmer wanted me to do and will have it in shape to start on its travels as soon as I am settled in Petoskey.” Hemingway even supported Balmer’s suggestion to rename the work, The Passing of Pickles McCarthy and it has since been known by both titles.

“Back in the days when we were eating of the fruit of the tree of watchful waiting, when people still cared where the Giants finished, before the draft had even begun to form the cave of the winds…there was a ringsman by the name of Pickles McCarthy. (Opening paragraph of The Woppian Way)

According to Hemingway biographer Carlos Baker, The Woppian Way / The Passing of Pickles McCarthy was an attempt by Ernest to follow the advice Trumbull Scott had given him in 1917 – write about things you have personally experienced. Hemingway tried to follow this advice as he bridged his high school writing to more sophisticated (and sellable) adult fiction. While the story’s plot is invented, the Italian people, places, and events were ones he knew firsthand. But, as Baker says, “He had not yet learned to discipline his prose, economize his dialogue, curb his powers of invention, or understand that scenes of carnage were not in themselves the ideal climax for the stories he had to tell.” Though completed, the story would remain unpublished.

Despite his serious effort and hard work, none of the stories Hemingway wrote that fall were accepted for publication during his lifetime. By January 1920, he was in Toronto where he was a paid companion for the handicapped son of a family he met in Petoskey and it was then that he began his affiliation with the Toronto Star newspaper. In September 1921, Hemingway maried his first wife, Hadley Richardson, at Horton Bay, and after short stay in Chicago the couple would move to Paris where famously Ernest would become part of the Lost Generation. Initially supported in Paris by his wife’s trust fund and money he made as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star, he abandoned trying to write for popular magazines and instead created revolutionary new fiction. This time he wrote about what he personally knew and had experienced and the settings for his new taut fiction were most often in northern Michigan. Nick Adams, his reoccurring protagonist, shared many of Hemingway’s own life experiences.

Now, 102 years after it was originally written, this draft of The Woppian Way has found its way to CMU’s Clarke Historical Library. How had it survived and how did it come to be at CMU? Most of those details are known and the story is an interesting one.


Hemingway was a borderline hoarder when it came to his writing. He kept virtually everything from complete early drafts of stories and novels to scraps of paper with story ideas or simple descriptive sentences. He mined these resources and often something created earlier was retooled and ended up in a published work later. After Hemingway’s death, his widow, Mary, initially had all his personal papers – letters, manuscripts, photos, etc. – boxed up and stored in a warehouse. When access requests from scholars became overwhelming, she donated the archives to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston where it remains preserved and available to the public. The collection there includes the evolution of many of his works – handwritten first drafts, typed with handwritten corrections drafts, and final drafts.

Two versions of The Woppian Way are included in the JFK Library’s Hemingway inventory. One is a 17-page typed, titled copy with no corrections. On the first page of it is written, “602 State Street, Petoskey, Michigan.” It is likely that this is what Hemingway considered the final version and was the one that was sent to potential publishers. The JFK’s other version is what the library considers “typescript fragments” and is nine pages of different sheets with pencil corrections and it is possible these are drafts worked on in Petoskey. If Hemingway kept these drafts, why isn’t the Clarke draft there too?

That Hemingway lived in many different places is well-known and scholars, and even those with casual interest, can identify Paris, Key West, and Cuba among his famous locales. With these and his many other moves, his possessions came along with him. When he married, the bulk of what he had remained at his parents’ house at Oak Park – likely including any correspondence or writing that he had. By 1931, Hemingway had moved back to America with Pauline, his second wife, and purchased a large house on Whitehead Street in Key West where he would live until 1940 when he moved to Cuba. In 1928, Hemingway’s father committed suicide and his mother struggled to support herself and maintain the large family home in Oak Park. In 1936, she sold that house and moved to a much smaller residence. It would make sense that at that time Ernest received his old things from Oak Park – including his earlier writings. In that they likely no longer seemed useful or relevant, they may have been put into storage. According to an article published at the JFK Library website written by Megan Floyd Desnoyers, in 1935, Hemingway left papers with Joe Russell, his friend and owner of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, in the storeroom behind the bar in Key West – a date that would fit that timeline of the Oak Park home sale. The Sloppy Joe’s website lists a slightly different version with the papers coming to Joe Russell in 1939, when Hemingway was preparing to move to Cuba. What is agreed upon is that after Ernest’s death, his widow, Mary Hemingway, consolidated his papers including those remaining in Key West. They were found in extremely poor conditions with rat skeletons among and in the boxes.

It is at this point Waring Jones, a skilled and determined Hemingway collector enters the picture. Jones, a Minnesotan, was a theatrical producer, newspaper editor, and book and art collector. According to his son, Finn-Olaf Jones, Waring went to Key West shortly after Ernest’s 1961 death to see what Hemingway material might be available. He discovered that boxes of materials had been left in a closet at Sloppy Joe’s and that Hemingway estate executors had sorted through them and had claimed what they wanted. They had then given permission to dispose of the rest and Jones took advantage of that decision and bought the remaining items sight unseen. It was likely at this time that those copies of The Woppian Way now at the JFK and the one at the Clarke parted company. It’s not known why the executors chose some things and not others, but some drafts went with them and some were left behind. After enjoying the Sloppy Joe’s material for many years, in 2001, Jones donated the bulk of it (along with additional material) to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park where it became part of the Foundation’s larger collection. It is now stored and accessible at the Oak Park Public Library.

While much of Waring Jones’ Hemingway collection was donated to Oak Park, some items were held out and put up for sale by his family using New York bookseller, Jeffrey Marks. It was by way of a listing he posted that the Clarke became aware of The Woppian Way manuscript’s availability. Recognizing its significance and potential value as a part of its Hemingway Collection, the Clarke combined money from its Michigan Hemingway Endowment, a private donor, and Friends of Library to secure the purchase. This item, created by a new struggling writer in Petoskey, Michigan, is now on site and available to see and use.