Hemingway and Key West

Ernest Hemingway was a different animal, an iconic figure in Key West from 1931 onward, when he and his second wife Pauline bought a house on Whitehead Street and shared a rich but turbulent relationship that ended in 1939. Hemingway moved on, but Pauline’s and Hemingway’s legacy remained because she decided to stay and sustain a legacy that she might or might not have ever expected although I suspect she did, for whichever reasons. The original Sloppy Joe’s bar, now Captain Tony’s, was one of Hemingway’s haunts, and both the bar and his house are major tourist destinations, as is the current Sloppy Joe’s, also a vibrant place to visit and still Hemingwayesque. No one debarking the cruise ships has any problem finding these places. Several dozen cats descending from Ernest’s and Pauline’s original tribe fairly well own the Hemingways’ Key West house. It’s also worth mentioning that Jimmy Buffet began finding his way at Captain Tony’s. Buffet even wrote a song about a night he spent with Captain Tony called “Last Mango in Paris,” which speaks to the visceral reality of living in paradise and grabbing that golden ring and swinging on it if one is lucky enough to find it.

Photo By: Eric Stephenson