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Monday, November 29, 2010

Magical Monday: Strange and paranormal of Key West, the Hemingway house

The week before Thanksgiving my husband and I took a vacation to the Florida Keys. I found lots of magical, strange, and creepy people, places, and things. Not so unexpected since Key West ranks on every top ten most haunted list of US cities.

We biked all over the island seeing many sites. Being a cyclist, that was great fun for me, but my husband bravely survived peddling nearly thirty miles during the week. On our trip to the Southernmost point of the US, we passed the former house of Ernest Hemingway. For this week’s Magical Monday feature I’ll explore some interesting and paranormal stories of his home. 

The legendary author called Key West his home from 1931 until his suicide in 1961. This main house is now a museum dedicated to Hemingway and the way he lived. Everything was preserved the way that he and his family used it. Reportedly, his ghost has been spotted all over the grounds, accompanied by the sound of a typewriter when he is inside the main house.

Hemingway lived and worked there for more than ten years. The Spanish Colonial style home was constructed of native rock hewn from the grounds and boasts the first pool built in Key West. The pool, built in the late 1930's, cost $20,000. This price prompted him to take a penny from his pocket, press it into the wet cement of the patio, and announce jokingly, "Here, take the last penny I've got!" His penny is still there.

His friends Charles Thompson, Joe Russell (Sloppy Joe), and Capt. Eddie "Bra" Saunders, together with his old Paris friends became known as the "The Key West Mob". They’d go fishing in local waters to the Dry Tortugas, Bimini, and Cuba for days or weeks looking for tuna and marlin. Everyone in the "Mob" had a nickname; this was how Hemingway became known as "Papa". 

Now, the Hemingway Estate is home to approximately sixty cats, direct descendants of the sixteen cats he kept when he lived there. Apparently Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain presented the cat to Hemingway. Many of the numerous cats that inhabit the grounds still possess the unusual six toes. Strange, but normal for the eclectic and magical world of Key West.

I'll have more Key West adventures to share soon.


N. R. Williams said...

Interesting. The house looks like a box. Perhaps that is more common in Key West. Is it punishment to become a ghost when you commit suicide? I guess that is a question for God. AS a writer though, I always wonder about this kind of thing.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Rosalie Lario said...

I've always thought Key West to be a magical place. You can practically feel the history there. The Haunted Ghost Tour is one worth taking!

Marsha A. Moore said...

Most legends indicate suicide is a reason one's soul is forced to roam as a ghost, so maybe that is Ernest's fate. Interesting idea, Nancy.

Rosalie, we did go on the ghost tour and it was great. I had one very unusual personal experience during that I'll blog about soon.