I’m minding my own business, sir! How many people do you think actually do that by choice? Does it bother you? Of course it bothers you. A clear conscience is always supposed to bother a cripple-minded idiot like you.
Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Short Stories (Finca Vigia Edition)
Image: Ernest Hemingway
wrote The Old Man and the Sea at the
Finca Vigia outside Havana. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
It’s been a year since the U.S. and Cuba began normalizing
relations. Tourism, business and cultural exchanges are booming. And there is
another curious benefactor of those warmer ties — Ernest Hemingway, or at
least, his legacy.
The writer lived just outside of Havana for 20 years, and
that house, called the Finca Vigia, has long been a national museum. But years
of hot, humid Caribbean weather have taken a toll on the author’s thousands of
papers and books. A Boston-based foundation is helping restore those weathered
treasures, and who better to lead that effort than the original dean of home
repairs: Bob Vila, of public television’s This
He tells NPR’s Carrie Kahn that he has a personal connection
to Cuba. “I’m American-born Cuban,” he says. “My Havana-born
parents emigrated during the latter part of World War II, and I was born in
Miami, raised there and partially in Havana up until the revolution in
Don’t you be any more bitter than you have to be. Remember we all should have been quite dead before we were twenty and so we are as ancient and as little understood as people can be. We overstayed our welcome and you having brains and being a fighting man would always be suspect in your Army. I have never known a fighting man with a good brain to ever come to any good end.
Ernest Hemingway, from “a letter to GENERAL E. E . DORMAN-O'GOWAN, La Finca Vigia, 23 December 1954,” Selected Letters 1917-1961 (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981)
I never had so damned much time to think in my life, especially nights on the water and here when I can’t sleep from having lost the habit, and have thought about you with great pleasure and admiration and how wonderful you were and are.
Ernest Hemingway, from “a letter to HADLEY MOWRER, L a Finca Vigia, 25 November 1943,” Selected Letters 1917-1961 (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981)