|Key West, 1946, Via Steve Newman.|
"Certainly," said Chapman. "Indeed I knew him personally toward the end of his life."
"Did you then? How was that?" Keats wondered.
"Well, it was in Key West, of course. I was tutoring the children of some friends of his, in music and rhetoric, and he often popped in of an afternoon on a visit, after he'd finished his day's writing, and would stop by in the schoolroom to cast a critical eye on the lessons, though in fact he was hardly critical. And he admired my taste in vintage clothing."
"Naturally. I was well acquainted with all the town's thrift shops, of which there are many, and I was pretty well dressed in those days, on practically no income. I possessed some extraordinary hats, for instance."
"Hemingway was interested in vintage clothing?" Keats raised his eyebrows a notch higher.
"Not especially. But he was concerned about luggage, you see. He was planning a trip to Idaho, for some mackinaw fishing, or lake trout, and was in despair about his suitcases, which were in a state of disrepair. But while remarkably generous in many respects, and a wealthy man, you understand, he was deeply frugal on certain subjects, and luggage was among these. He hated the thought of shelling out hundreds of dollars on a suitcase. So he asked me to take him around the shops to see if he could find something suitable on a second-hand basis."
Keats put another log on and stood up to stretch. "And did he?"
"Did he what?"
"Did he find something suitable?"
"Ah! Unfortunately not. I did my best, but in the end Papa got a brand-new bag."