Oak Park, Chicago – I like Ernest Hemingway. So years ago I made my pilgrimage to his birthplace. When Hemingway was born in 1899, his Victorian style home was lit only by gas lamps. No radio. No television. Hard to imagine in our time. The boy, Ernest Hemingway, grew up surrounded by books, arts, music, and his grandfather’s storytelling. Not hard to imagine how he had been groomed to become a great storyteller. “His childhood was filled with cheerful moments,” the docent leading the tour told me. A different time in a different world. I tried to imagine what it was like for the boy. I climbed the stairs in the old Victorian home, touching the balustrade that Hemingway’s boyhood hands must have touched. Creaky floors. Smell of old wood. Sunlight cascading through narrow windows. I wondered how from this happy beginning Hemingway had gone to his dark and desolate ending. How strange. What time has in store for each of us is no one’s telling.
I also made my Hemingway pilgrimage to his home in Key West, and to the Hemingway Museum in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, and to the village of Fossalta di Piave, Italy, where the young Heminway was injured. I have yet to visit his home in Cuba. And also his home in Ketchum, Idaho, but am not so sure if I want to visit that place where he had committed suicide.
Do you have a favorite writer to whose roots you’ve made pilgrimage?