Hemingway: France and Football and Fascism

The European Championships kick off in Paris today under a cloud of fear and uneasy anticipation as Islamic terrorists and hooligan elements from around Europe are threatening to disrupt the games. Here in America football or soccer is known for it’s tendency to cause trouble and it’s ability to incite violence but there is another side to the story. The French started the World Cup in 1930 and when Uruguay won 2 of the first 4 World Cups Europe took notice and football became ‘the worlds game’. Since then the game has started civil wars(Yugoslavia) and ended them(Ivory Coast), it paved the way for reconciliation after WWII and has been the catalyst for the integration of people of color into many European countries. Recently France, one of the elder statesmen of the world’s game has gone through a very difficult period. There was the attack on the office of Charlie   Hebdo, a publication that carried on the great french tradition of satire to affect social change. Next there were the coordinated attacks in Paris which included two bombs at the national stadium during a game between France and Germany. More recently flooding has devastated Paris causing the evacuation of the lower floors of The Louvre.   In 1998 France hosted it’s first World Cup in 60 years. It was again a difficult time France, the economy was sluggish and as is the norm immigration was blamed. The influx of Carribean and North African immigrants was seen as not only a threat to the economy but also to the French way of life. On the football side of things not much was expected of Les Blues, or the French National Team, a team which for the first time included as many Frenchmen of African or Carribean descent as Frenchmen of European descent. Well this motley crue exceeded all expectation going all the way to final and beating the mighty Brazil 3-0 in Paris. France had finally won the tournament they started 68 years earlier, Zinedine Zidane, the Marseille born son of  Algerian immigrants scored 2 goals and his image was projected onto the Arch d’ Triumph, people of France form all walks of life poured into streets to celebrate. Football had unified France and inspired feelings unity, patriotism and joy not seen since the liberation of Paris in 1944.

What does this have to do with Hemingway? Well Hemingway was there at the liberation of Paris. He was with British and American troops as they entered the city, he famously went directly to the Ritz to liberate his old stomping ground and it’s Champagne supply. He had spent much of his twenties in Paris. After returning to America after WWI he rejected the excesses of the roaring 20’s and went back to France to mingle with Fitzgerald and Stein and passing his time on the left bank of Seine, falling in love and floating freely through a Europe that was intoxicated with simply ‘not being at war’. For an example of this from the work, read the fishing section of The Sun Also Rises. Like football, Hemingway is often associated with violence. He was involved in 3 wars, and loved bullfighting, boxing and hunting and these sensational activities generally get all the attention. People forget Hemingway was first an artist and a prolific one at that. He loved the common people, and joined in their celebrations in Africa, France, Cuba, Madrid and Cooke City, he always believed that to get to know a country or a people you didn’t visit the museums and the state buildings you went to the bars. This is what he did in Paris in the 20’s and while doing so fell in love France and her people and with love itself. This part of his life is documented in A Moveable Feast. After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris makeshift memorials sprung up, it was not the military bases or the state buildings that were hit it was a cafe, a theater and football stadium. It was not France that was attacked it was her way of life. At the makeshift memorials people left flowers, bottles of wine, poems and copies of A Moveable Feast. The people of Paris did not want weapons, border security and prayers, they wanted their lifestyle to survive. No one represented this lifestyle as well as Hemingway. Hemingway spent his life fighting fascism. The hooligan elements, the Islamic fundamentalists and far right extremists that seek to disrupt the European Championships all represent a streak of Fascism. A need to force a chosen way of life onto other people, to control them and to impose a way of thinking, religious or political upon them. The way to do this is through fear, hatred and violence. In 1938, after spending 2 years supporting the loyalist cause in Spain, Hemingway returned to America to urge the U.S. to enter the war to counter the threat of Fascism. In a speech to the Writers Congress at Carnegie Hall he said:

Really good writers are always rewarded under almost any existing system of government that they can tolerate. There is only form of government that cannot produce good writers, and that system is Fascism. For Fascism is a lie told by bullies. A writer who will not lie cannot live and work under Fascism.”

There is a cliche that captures the French spirit and also explains our enduring fascination with Hemingway. We love Hemingway not because we are bullfight aficionados   or boxing fanatics but for the same reason the people of France love him still. It is not because of his political affiliations or writing style. We love Hemingway because of his ‘joie de vivre’ or exuberant enjoyment of life. While ‘joie de vivre’ might not get all the headlines  or attention we must remember that it is what truly unites us and no matter what happens in France our love of life must prevail. So thank you France for throwing a giant party under difficult circumstances, thank you for the Statue of Liberty, thank you for inventing the World Cup, thank you for putting Hemingway up for those important years, and most of all thank you for your ‘joie de vivre’.



Hemingway and ‘Pilot and Index’

Just got back from a great Spring Break, now ready to get back to work on the book and trying to generate a little interest in the tours we’re offering this summer. (Google Hemingway’s Yellowstone)
Now, anyone familiar with the NE corner of Yellowstone and the Cooke City area will be familiar with Pilot peak or ‘Pilot and Index’. For those of you not familiar, Pilot Peak is Matterhorn shaped Mountain that lies on the Wyoming/ Montana border. It dominates the landscape and is the enduring image that represents this part of the world. For anyone who has spent significant time in Cooke City it is probably their favorite mountain.


Well it turns out, Pilot Peak was one of Hemingway’s favorite mountains as well. In his final published story, which is set in 2 bars, he names the bars ‘The Pilot’ and ‘The Index’. While he was an avid hunter, he managed to shoot a Bighorn Sheep only once. This hunt took place on the the slopes of Pilot and Index. Hemingway also hunted elk and black bear way up Pilot Creek. In a 1939 article for Vogue he remembers the great mountains this way:

Up the river were the two peaks of Pilot and Index, where we would hunt mountain-sheep later in the month, and you sat in the sun and marvelled at the formal, clean lined shape mountains can have at a distance, so that you remember them in the shapes they show from far away, and not as broken rockslides you crossed, the jagged edges you pulled up by, and the narrow shelves you sweated along, afraid to look down, round that peak that looked so smooth and geometrical.”


Hemingway returned to these slopes in 1932 to try to duplicate his 1930 sheep hunt with friend Charles Thompson. They hunted for nine days with no luck. In a letter to Henry Strater, Hemingway describes the hunt as hell, and tells how he had to take his shoes off at one point, and ended up falling nine times anyway. Pauline Hemingway who accompanied them much of the way had her Stetson blown off her head and into the Clark’s Fork Valley.  After this hunt Hemingway would return Pilot Creek with Huck Mees, a local legend and shoot a massive black bear.EH5593P_lowres


Huck Mees was one of the many men Hemingway hunted with during his five visits to Yellowstone High Country. To get an idea of how bad ass these guys were check out this Link:

Yellowstone High Country Tours Hemingway Exhibit

We are very exited about some new memorabilia we have acquired for our Hemingway Exhibit at Yellowstone’s North East Entrance. Our Exhibit is at The Range Rider Lodge in Silver Gate, Montana. The Range Rider was built in 1937 and was visited by Hemingway and his wife Pauline in 1938 and ’39.  According to Ralph Nelles who helped build the Range Rider and tended bar there for it’s first couple of seasons, the Hemingway’s never missed a Saturday night.  RangeRiders image                                   Our tours start at The Range Rider Lodge.

We have just acquired a copy of Vogue Magazine from February 1939. Hemingway wrote a reflective piece for Vogue entitled “The Clark’s Fork Valley, Wyoming”. It is a beautifully written account of his five summers at ranch about 15 miles east of the Range Riders. After appearing in 1939 this piece essentially disappeared for the next 60 years, before appearing in Hemingway on Fishing, and in Norton’s Portable Western Reader.  Montana’s own William Kittredge chose this story to represent Hemingway in the mammoth collection because it represents his style so well.  In doing so he acknowledges Hemingway’s place among America’s western writers by placing this piece between Steinbeck and Norman Maclean.  We have also acquired a letter sent from the L–T to Hemingway in 1931, describing Huck Meese’s first ascent of Pilot Peak a big thank you to Dink Bruce for this one. These along with the 1952 Life Magazine with Hemingway on the cover that we got courtesy of Mary Lewis, will make great additions to our exhibit.

Fun at our Hemingway Exhibit
Fun at our Hemingway Exhibit










vogue covervogue covervogue cover



True at First Light

A big thank you to the Hemingway Family and Paula Bestwick at the Bozeman Library for putting  the ‘Movable Feast’ fundraiser at the Ale Works. The event was a big success and plans for a Bookmobile are moving forward. It was great meeting Patrick Hemingway, he was very gracious and supportive. Patrick edited and wrote the introduction for True at First Light, the last novel printed under the Hemingway name. It is an account of the writer’s second and final trip to Africa in 1953-4. Patrick was with his father on that trip and went on to spend first half of his adult life in East Africa.

In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon and you have no more          respect for it that for the lovely, perfect weed fringed lake you see across the sun-baked salt plain. You have walked across that plain in the morning and you know that no such lake is there. But now it is there absolutely true, beautiful and believable.                                                                             Ernest Hemingway



        On page 305 he writes about entering a store in Laitokitok, Kenya:

         “and I liked it because it was like the general store and post office in Cooke City, Montana.

         “In Laitokitok they did not have the cardboard boxes of obsolete calibers that the old-timers bought two to four cartridges from each season in the late fall when they wanted to get their winter meat. They sold spears instead.”

Hemingway had not been to our area in 14 years but somehow he was able to look at spears for sale in a general store in the middle of Africa and say ‘I like this place it reminds me of Cooke City’. His memory of the old-timers buying a couple of bullets in the fall demonstrates an understanding of the area that few passers through would be able to claim.

Cooke City General Store Montana - Photo by Pat Bonish-L

The Cooke City General Store is sits just outside Yellowstone’s North East Entrance and is open June through September. It is a Historical Landmark and has not changed much since Hemingway was a regular visitor. Drafts of To Have and Have Not and Death in the Afternoon.


A Moveable Feast

Great news everyone! A Moveable Feast– A ‘book mobile’ fundraiser will take place at The Ale Works in Bozeman on Feb 25th. http://bozemanlibrary.org/news/news.php?newsID=576

The Hemingway family will be at this Carribean themed event. A good cause and a chance to talk about Hemingway’s connection to Montana and the Yellowstone region in particular. Two of Hemingway’s three sons chose to live in Montana and two of Hemingway’s most well known protagonists hail from Montana; Robert Jordan the hero of For Whom the Bell Tolls is from Red Lodge, Montana and Thomas Hudson from Islands in the Stream is a rancher from Montana. This is a great chance to rub shoulders with some Hemingway heavyweights, enjoy some good food and drink and delve a little deeper into Hemingway’s connection to the Yellowstone area.

I hope the mixologists at the Ale Works can put together a ‘Death in the Afternoon’ If not maybe you mix one these at home, simple really– prepare absinthe as you usually would- in a glass with cold water dripped over a sugar cube held on an ornamental spoon, but instead of water use Champagne. Have 3 or 4 of these and see where the night takes you.

This drink has a very ‘Paris’ sound to it, but since most of Death in the Afternoon was written at a ranch just east of Cooke City, MT I think it will fit the occasion.

Full Van for Wednesday Tour.

IMG_1883Great trip on August 6th, thanks everyone!  A great blend of folks interested in the hunting and fishing side of things and folks more concerned with the literary side of things. I think a couple of the guys might be ready to try the ‘McGinty’ in our local waters(remember guys, it works best after heavy rain, so now’s the time.) IMG_1881Found a great spot for lunch too! Old Ranger building at Crandall served as our picnic table and even has an outhouse out back for emergencies.  Hemingway borrowed a car from the Ranger here in 1930, after suffering lacerations on his face and leg after his horse ‘Goofy’ bolted into the woods.  He took the car into Cody where he was stitched up by a converted veterinarian named Dr. Trueblood,  the good Doctor prescribed him a bottle of Oscar Pepper whiskey for the pain(prohibition).  After retuning the the car, Hemingway headed up Crandall Creek and shot his very first bear.  The rest of the whisky was used to get through the skinning of the bear which had picked up a sizable amount of maggots from the dead mule that had been used to bait the cattle killing bear. Upon his return to the ranch, Hemingway offered to buy ‘Goofy’.  Ranch owner Lawrence Nordquist suggested there were far better saddle  horses in his stable available for purchase.  Ernest growled through his newly askew stitched up face, “I don’t want to ride him, I want to shoot him for bear bait.”    Carlos Baker Biography P. 274

EH letter after accidentAfter the incident Hemingway sent this letter to Louis Cohn complete with a self portrait. Under the picture it say’s “New punctuation on face.” 

Tours are up and running.

Hello everyone,

We would like to thank the Snider/Buller family, Alice,Emily and Ken, Ted Reeves and his group of teachers, and yesterday’s crew of Kieth, Andrea, Maya, Laura, Eric and Ondrej, for getting us rolling.                                      This is the time the Hemingway family would arrive in the Yellowstone High Country.   Like many people today, they would wait until the river’s came down and became fishable.   When fishing single fly’s Hemingway preferred the Grey Palmer and especially the McGinty.  phy_McGinty_y375The McGinty is a bee/yellowjacket imitation that probably would pass for a beetle or hopper.  It works on top of the water but is probably most effective just after it sinks.  It is commonly believed that the McGinty was invented by Chicago Bartender Charles McGinty in 1883 who tied and sold them to his customers.  Around Chicago they were used primarily for Bass, but trout of every kind will take them as well. Trout guru, Lafontaine, contends that these only work well after a rain storm.  The Grey Palmer is a color variation on the Soldier Palmer.cdc_grey_palmer_imageOne day, in August of 1930, Hemingway and his buddy Bill Horne caught 49 rainbows using these two flies.  Hemingway had fished with moderate success in between rainstorms up until then. As the rain subsided the two had a banner day, suggesting that Lafontaine may have been on to something. When fishing two flies the writer preferred a worm fly with shrimp dropper but his go to rig was a leader pre-tied with three flies: for these he used the McGinty for the top, a cock-y-bondhu(old Welsh fly) in the middle, and a Woodcock and Green as the tail fly.  These three-fly rigs were very common at the time but are now illegal to use in Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone.  In the Green Hills of  Africa there is a passage describing the landing of three fish at once on one these pre-tied set up’s. This passage also appears in Hemingway on Fishing.  Jack Hemingway, in his introduction to this collection points out that his father’s conversion to the fly did not take place early. this can be confirmed by reading “The Big Two Hearted River,” “The Last Good Country,”  and The Sun Also Rises.  Hemingway’s first son also maintains that his father’s  entire trunk of fly-fishing tackle was lost by the Railroad express on the way to Sun Valley, Idaho in 1940, meaning that almost all of Hemingway’s fly-fishing for trout took place right here in the Yellowstone High Country.images