Monday, January 16, 2012

Ernest Hemingway and Harry S. Truman in Key West

Once we had Key West on the Roadrunner Travel Schedule, I started reading about famous people that lived here.  A couple of months ago, I began some of the classics by Ernest Hemingway.  I started with 'A Farwell to Arms', then read 'The Old Man and the Sea'.  I also read 'The Sun Also Rises' and am a good ways into 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.  Somehow I missed that assignment in high school and am now just catching up.

I also recently finished 'Truman' by David McCullogh.  I really liked that book too.  My respect and appreciation for what he did during his life and presidency rose considerably.  In fact, shortly after his death, he was ranked as the 5th most admired president.
Can you guess those ahead of him?

To further our historical interests last week, we went to see the Ernest Hemingway House and the Little White House here in Key West.

Ernest Hemingway heard of Key West while in Paris and first visited in 1929.  His wife's uncle bought the house for $8000 in 1931.  Hemingway and his wife Pauline lived there nine years.
It is said it was during his time at Key West that his writing was the most prolific.  While in Key West he finished 'Farewell to Arms' and wrote a number of poems, short stories and novels.

The tour of the Hemingway House was very good.  We had a guide who really knew some great details and history of the home and about the life of Ernest Hemingway.
Gladly, we were able to take pictures throughout the house.  There are about 40 six-toed cats who live there and one was taking a siesta while we made our way through a bedroom.
While Hemingway was traveling, his wife had a $20,000 swimming pool built which was the only one in the Florida Keys at the time.

Most of the furnishings in there as they were in the 1930's.  It was a large home on one acre and restored for living similar to that time.  
Behind the house was an old carriage house that was remodeled into a studio/apartment where Hemingway did his writing.  The tour was very good and well worth it.

Later in the week, we got tickets to the Little White House.  The building was originally constructed in 1890 for US naval officers and was built right on the waterfront.  Later the Key West harbor was dredged and more land was added.  Sadly, government buildings were built in front and the view of the water was gone by the time Harry Truman visited for a much needed rest.
Harry Truman had been vice-president only three months when he was sworn into office on April 12, 1945.  He had an excellent work ethic throughout his whole life and kept up a fast pace and worked long hours while president.

After 19 months in office he was in need of a rest and went to Key West.  Over his presidency, he returned many times, eventually spending 175 days there.
There were no photographs allowed in the house.  I liked the way the furniture from the 1940's remains in the house.  The living room and family room (though I don't think they called it that) were very roomy for an old home.  It also had a separate formal dining room near the kitchen.  The bedrooms upstairs were fairly small but they had a lot of windows for a good breeze.  The tour took about 30 minutes and again we had a guide who sprinkled stories and anecdotes throughout the tour.

So there are two stops on the tourist agenda you might want to consider.  Both give some historical impact to the city and are well done.

That is all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...


  1. For some reason, all I'm getting are the pictures, no dialogue at all.

  2. I think I meant to change the color of the Post Title and I changed the color of the text. I would be interested to know if I corrected it?

    Thank you

  3. i was able to read all the text as well...

  4. We love visiting places like this! David McCullogh is one of my favorite authors. His book on Ben Franklin is wonderful and is all his other books. Thanks for the great tours!
    I could read all the text! Marsha

  5. Hope you get to see Truman's home in Kansas. Very interesting tour and a very interesting man. I agree with you about McCullough, I think I've read all his books, each one better than the last.

  6. A couple great books about the Hurricane in 1935 at the Keys...
    "Hemmingway's Hurricane", by Phil Scott
    and "Last Train To Paradise" by Les Standiford...Great stories of the hurricane in the Keys that took a train right off the track...You know by now that I'm a history geek. We were at Key West but never toured those homes...We were with our daughter and new son-in-law on their "honeymoon", and all they wanted to do was eat oysters and drink Margueritas!

  7. I love David McCullough's writing. I'm a fan of history and historical novels, and McCullough never disappoints.

    Loved reading about your visit!

  8. We loved reading about your history tours. It is on our list of places to go and things to do.
    Roger and Joyce

  9. Great tour and pics of the Hemingway house along with the history of the place.

    Interesting info on Harry Truman too as I never knew he vacationed in the Florida Keys.

  10. Looks like it would be a wonderful adventure to go there!! I have a friend there and will go someday...but for now thanks for the tour!!

  11. I have a wood carved picture of Hemingway that supposedly once hung in Trumans white house. I inherited from my mother in law who purchased it in the 1980's at auction. Any idea what it may be worth or who would be interested in it?


  12. Has no one inquisitive enough to ask if HT and EH ever spent time together at K W?