Sunday, January 24, 2016

Realms of Gold

Key West, 1946, Via Steve Newman.
"Are you familiar with the American author Ernest Hemingway?" Keats asked, lounging in front of the fire.

"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."

"He did?"

"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."

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