Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Northern Michigan Once Again – Part 6: Hemingway Sites

On this trip Up North in Michigan we visited some Hemingway sites.  In 1899 Ernest Hemingway’s parents bought a piece of property on what is now called Walloon Lake, a few miles south of Petoskey.  On this property they had built a cottage at which their growing family was to spend all or most of summers for well over 20 years.  Hemingway himself was brought north when he about two months old for a week while his parents arranged for construction, and he would then spend 19 full summers in the area. 

Walloon Lake, from a spot near the Hemingway Cottage
A few years after buying the property on Walloon Lake, Hemingway’s parents bought a small farm on the opposite shore which was named Longfield Farm.  The Hemingway children helped work the fields in the summers, supplementing the labors of a tenant farmer.  The family had some of the production shipped south for the family’s dinner table in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park.

From a spot near the Longfield Farm site,
looking east across Walloon Lake to the Hemingway cottage site
After his wedding and reception in 1921 at Horton Bay on nearby Lake Charlevoix, Hemingway and his new wife Hadley were driven down Sumner Road to the above spot on Walloon Lake across from the family cottage, steps from Longfield Farm, from where Hemingway rowed himself and his bride across the lake to the cottage, where they spent their honeymoon (sick with bad colds for the first few days).  It was a good pull, for the distance from one shore to the other is considerable.

Seemingly before he even was of school age, Hemingway loved to fish in the trout streams of northern Michigan.  A favorite spot early on was Horton Creek, which flowed into Horton Bay in the nearby lake now called Lake Charlevoix. 

Horton Creek, looking north from the bridge
on the Charlevoix-Boyne City Road 
In his mid-teens, Hemingway began spending more time at Longfield Farm, working it during the day.  Many evenings he would walk the three miles or so west to the shore of Lake Charlevoix and the little hamlet of Horton Bay (sometimes called Hortons Bay or Horton's Bay by Hemingway and others), where he would hang out at a small inn and restaurant called Pinehurst and at the General Store.  Next to the General Store is a building that became the Red Foxx Inn, now a quaint bookstore and memorabilia shop welcoming visitors and Hemingway fans on Fridays and Saturdays.  Both buildings were in use in Hemingway's time, as they are to this day. 

The Horton Bay General Store, with the "high false front," as Hemingway described it in a story;
the Red Fox Inn building sits to the right in the photo
In Horton Bay Hemingway he fell in with a small crowd that summered or worked in the area, most notably the Smith siblings Bill and Katy and their friend Carl Edgar (with whom he would later live for a while in Kansas City).  The Smith family would figure quite large in his life. 


Hemingway would sometimes sell the trout he caught to Liz Dilworth, who with her husband Jim owed and ran Pinehurst, where for a few years Hemingway often ate and slept.  The "resort" property consisted of two small buildings – Pinehurst and Shangri-La – located just south of the Charlevoix – Boyne City Road, about 100 yards up Lake Street from Horton Bay on the north shore of Lake Charlevoix.  In 1921, the reception after Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson was held here.    

Pinehurst in Horton Bay; Shangri-La stands to the right out of the photo
In the last few summers Hemingway spent up north, Bill Smith had a car and the group traveled around the area, to trout streams and to local towns Petoskey, Charlevoix and Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix, and Walloon Lake Village on Walloon Lake.  In fact, for a short time Hemingway lived in rooming houses in Petoskey and in Boyne City.  In Petoskey, one can drive by 602 State Street, just off the downtown area, and see the well-kept up home that was once Mrs. Potter's boarding house where he lived for almost three months in the fall of 1919.   

Hemingway famously set many of his short stories in northern Michigan, most of them semi-autobiographical featuring his fictional alter-ego Nick Adams.  The Nick Adams Stories span the protagonist’s life from a young boy living with his parents to a young man with his own son.  Many of them are set in the northern Michigan of Hemingway’s youth, notably along the shores of Walloon Lake and around Horton Bay on Lake Charlevoix.         

Horton Bay, from the foot of Lake Street, looking southwest;
in the distance is the finger of land that juts into Lake Charlevoix to form the bay  

From Hemingway's very autobiographical short story Summer People, published posthumously, which describes a clandestine love affair with a young woman named "Kate" who in real life was Katy Smith, who would introduce Hemingway to his first wife, indirectly introduce him to his second wife, and through Hemingway would meet the man who would become her husband, John Dos Passos:
Halfway down the gravel road [Lake Street, now paved] from Hortons Bay, the town, to the lake there was a spring.  The water came up in a tile sunk beside the road, lipping over the cracked edge of the tile and flowing through the close-growing mint into the swamp.  In the dark Nick put his arm down into the spring but he could not hold it there because of the cold.  He felt the featherings of the sand spouting up from the spring cones at the bottom against his fingers.  Nick thought, I wish I could put all of myself in there.  I bet that would fix me.  He pulled his arm out and sat down at the edge of the road.  It was a hot night."     
The spring in Horton Bay, still there today beside the road
The spring is still there and I put my arm in it and it was cold indeed.
R Balsamo

[Note: Click on the "Hemingway" link below to see related posts; Also, click on any above photo to enlarge it] 

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