“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago, October, 1920, 100 East Chicago Street, Chicago, Illinois

This’ll be another great party.

Free-lance journalist Ernest Hemingway, 21, and his roommate are headed to their friends’ apartment—which they call “The Domicile”—for one of their regular Sunday parties.

Chicago, 1920

Ernest has had a really good year. It began with him entertaining a local women’s group with stories of his experiences and injuries in the Great War [he embellished them just a little]. He was so impressive that a wealthy couple hired him to live in their Toronto, Canada, mansion as a companion to their disabled teenaged son.

The kid was a bore. But through connections, Ernie managed to get a position writing for the Toronto Star Weekly magazine. And after some unsigned pieces of his were published, he finally got a byline! In “Taking a Chance for a Free Shave” by Ernest M. Hemingway he told the tale of his trip to a local barber college.

Even when he went for his usual trout fishing trip up in Michigan this past spring, he was still able to have bylined pieces most weeks in both the Star and the Chicago Tribune. His parents weren’t happy that Ernest had no plans, and after a raucous beach party at the family lake cottage last summer—the neighbors complained—his mother had thrown him out, hand delivering to him a lengthy, nasty letter which said in part,

Stop trading your handsome face to fool little gullible girls and neglecting your duties to God and your Saviour…Do not come back until your tongue has learned not to insult and shame your mother.”

A bit harsh.

Ernest Hemingway and friends at the lake in Michigan

Soon after, Hemingway went out one night with his last $6 in his pocket to a high class, although illegal, gambling house in Charlevoix, Michigan, and walked out at 2 am with $59 from the roulette tables. That was enough to keep him going without having to ask his parents for money. Ernie packed up some of his things from home and moved here to Chicago with a friend from his days when he served in the Red Cross ambulance corps in Italy during the War.

Hemingway is getting by with free-lance work; although his journalism is selling better than the short stories he’s been submitting.

As he walks into the apartment of advertising guy Y Kenley Smith, 32, Ernest sees a tall, auburn-haired woman across the room.

After striking up a conversation with Hadley Richardson, 28 [he lies to her about his age], he learns that she lives in St. Louis, plays the piano, and is here for a few weeks visiting Kenley’s sister. She reminds him a bit of the nurse who took care of him when he was injured in Italy, who was also a bit older than he was. But, despite a year at Bryn Mawr College, and a trip to Paris, “Hash” as her friends call her, seems a bit younger than her age.

When he leaves the party, Ernest knows that he really wants to go back to live in Europe. And he knows that he is going to marry Hadley Richardson.

Hadley Richardson

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I am talking about writers’ salons in Paris and New York after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

My “Such Friends” presentations, the Founding of the Abbey Theatre and Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table are available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.