I can be a bit of a sucker for ‘stars’ probably because I grew up watching the likes of Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton and Steve McQueen. Their lives off stage were as interesting as the characters they portrayed, so it’s not surprising that when it came to authors ‘Papa’ would captivate me. If you are readers and what blogger isn’t? Then I don’t need to rant about his books, you know who he is.
Go back over a hundred years to WW1 and Ernest was a young, bored volunteer ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Italy, so he offered to deliver chocolates and cigarettes to the front line. While chatting with some soldiers a mortar explosion left him with 237 shrapnel fragments in his leg, he then carried a seriously injured soldier to safety whilst under machine gun fire and was shot in the knee. The Italians awarded him the Silver Star for valour. The stone was set 🙂
He was a hard drinker and maybe that contributed to his list of misdemeanours, but during his life he managed to pull a skylight down upon his head, break his leg in a car accident and shoot himself in the legs trying to kill a shark. He was badly burned helping to fight a bushfire, he survived two plane crashes (one of which supposedly killed him) emerging with first degree burns, internal bleeding, ruptured kidney, ruptured spleen, ruptured liver, a crushed vertebra and a fractured skull. He was by no means safe from disease and he survived anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery, skin cancer, hepatitis, anemia, diabetes and high blood pressure.
In WW2 he converted his boat the ‘Pilar’ to a Nazi submarine detector and embarked upon a search and destroy mission that lasted a year. He then joined the allied forces in Europe as a war correspondent and having disregarded his non-combatant attire (in violation of the Geneva Convention Guidelines for the press), formed a small unit of resistance fighters assumed the title of Colonel and liberated the Paris Ritz. Upon entry he greeted his old friend the barman and ordered 73 Dry Martinis 🙂 An investigation afterwards accused him of assuming the title of Colonel and storing arms in his room. To which Hemingway replied that it was a nickname given to him by the men and as for the arms he said he was just looking after them. Several friends gave character references and he was not only cleared but awarded the Bronze Star for bravery.
Ernest Hemingway was not always a gentleman, he was not always a good husband and certainly not always a good father, but most of his books came from his experiences so, like the man or not, he was a helluva writer and a helluva a man. So Happy Birthday ‘Papa.’ I, for one, will be raising a glass to you tonight. 🙂