An 'Ernestine Hemingway Festival' might be just the fundraising ticket


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

The Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park just held an event called Salut Hemingway: A Toast to a Movable Feast where the attendees ate French-style Hemingway repasts. I don't know what a Hemingway repast is. I suppose they ate stuff you can shoot with a gun while on a safari?#34;like lions, rhinos, zebras, monkeys, ants, and voles smothered in bechamel sauce.

Many people think hunting seems hunting unsportsmanlike. If you believe that, I suggest you try hunting a vole with a 6.5 Mannlicher rifle. Hemingway used big bore rifles like the Mannlicher to kill lions, elephants and such; but if you want to challenge your marksmanship, try hunting voles with one. Voles are nimble, slippery beasts and offer hunters tiny targets.

Margaret Macomber used a Mannlicher 6.5 to kill her husband in Hemingway's story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." If I remember correctly, she shot him accidentally. However, literary critics question Mrs. Macomber's excuse of just an accident because upon seeing her husband drop to the ground with a bullet in the back of his head she never said oops.

But enough of big bore rifles, literary murders and voles?#34;perhaps the next event the Hemingway Foundation holds could have more of an Oak Park theme. Hemingway lived here until the age of 18 although you wouldn't know it from his writing. He seemed never to mention it or base anything on it in his fiction.

We can blame his mother Grace for that. Hemingway called courage "grace under pressure" but because of pressure under Grace he ejected Oak Park from his memory. As a young boy, she dressed him like his older sister Marcelline, called him Ernestine and tried to make him into Marcelline's twin. That's probably a damned sweet reason to forget you lived in Oak Park, especially if you look at yourself as a swilling, swaggering, safariing, warfaring kind of guy. Ernestine somewhat conflicts with that image.

As a tribute to Ernest Hemingway ignoring Oak Park in his writing, the Hemingway Foundation should consider an Ernestine Hemingway Festival. Attendees would dress up like Ernestine Hemingway, garb themselves up in turn-of-the-century women's fashion?#34;beard or moustache optional?#34;and box each other, the winner receiving a trip to Idaho. Referees would conduct the boxing matches by a strict interpretation of the Marquise of Queensbury rules, meaning no bra-strap snapping, no bodice-wrenching, no hemline-biting, no hairdo-ruining, and no bootie blows.

In recent years, feminists have criticized Hemingway as a sexist hondo. The Ernestines would nullify the feminist critics, and the boxing would satisfy the fans of the traditional Hemingway. In addition, those who have searched Hemingway's text with "gaydars," searching for evidence of his androgyny also would welcome such an event.

Oak Park has the infrastructure for an Ernestine festival. In addition to the local Hemingway Foundation, it has the store Transformations on Oak Park Avenue, which could supply all the Ernestines with the clothing and the accessories they need?#34;except the boxing gloves.

The Hemingway Society is having financial difficulties. An Ernestine Hemingway Festival would attract people who normally don't attend Hemingway events and do more to alleviate their fiscal burden than an ordinary Hemingway festival. The event couldn't solve all their financial problems, but it might lay the groundwork for some rich, sympathetic lesbian to come along and hand over a mondo-chunk of money.

Byron Lanning
Oak Park Blog:

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect