Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Review Chicago to Oak Park to Berwyn Part II

Saturday, Oak Park, May 21, 2011
The next morning, I woke and checked the website for the Hemingway museum in Oak Park.  I made the mistake of thinking they opened at 8.  I had made plans to be in Berwyn by 10 that morning to meet friends who live there, but that’s when the museum opened.  I had to call them and tell them I was going to be late because I screwed up the museum time. 

Since I was up and ready to go at 8 am, I figured I’d check out and head into Oak Park.  That’s where I found the coffee shop I made a quick blog post from. 

That's looking up Oak Park Ave, outside the coffee shop.  It's the photo I couldn't upload on Saturday while I was blogging from the coffee shop.  I love the brickwork of the buildings, and the town has this really old time feel to it.

I was right at the door when the museum opened.

See, for eight years, once I found out I lived so close to Hemingway’s birth place, I had the desire to go to the museum and his childhood home.  I never made it.  The ex would never want to go with me.  It’s sort of funny, but when you are married, I think you are less likely to do things alone; you think or hope that your spouse will want to do things with you.  Getting the ex to do things was hard.  He never wanted to do anything.  It was only at the end of our marriage that he showed perhaps a slight interest in doing things, but by then, I’d spent 8 years in a bubble and had become happy and a bit content in that bubble, so I was less likely to venture out on my own to do anything.  I realize I lost a lot of myself by not continuing to do things I wanted to do, even if they were on my own, but isn’t that the point of marriage, having someone to do things with? Or maybe, it's just creating a false happiness.  And we all know what happens with that...


I studied Hemingway pretty extensively in grad school, but I didn’t get through all of his works, just select ones that my evaluator and I had agreed on, but over the years I have collected just about all of his books.  I am fascinated by his life and by his writing, and I was so mad at myself that I became one of the women who stopped doing things because I would have to do it alone.  When did I become so scared?  Is that what marriage did to me?  Ah, that’s a topic for another time.  So, there I was, on my own in Oak Park, and I wasn’t bothered by it, and enjoyed every minute of it.

The museum was put together very well.  It covered every aspect of Hemingway’s life and writing. Connie (no photo), operating the gift shop, was very friendly and seemed to know her stuff when it came to Hemingway.

I appreciated seeing photos of Hemingway through the years, and personal possessions.  Anything and everything you could imagine that showcases his life was in this museum.  I'd love to go back again before I leave the state, but with four weeks and counting, not sure I can swing it.  Seeing his photos and books and the highlights of his life from a young boy to on up really resonated with me the fact that I couldn't be happier with myself that I did make the trip.

See photos below.

Hemingway's high school report card

I have more photos if anyone wants to see them!

I didn’t spend too long there because I knew the kicker for me was going to be his home and was it ever.  

They only gave tours on the hour, and it was almost 11 am, so I hoofed it to the meter to put in more money and then back up the street a few blocks just in time to make the 11 am showing.  All the while, my feet were screaming in the second pair of sandals I selected for the weekend.  Two wonderful tour guides, in the photo, John and Julia (who was a guide in training), led me through the house.  They were the nicest kids.  Believe it or not, I learned so much, much more than I ever knew about Hemingway AND his family.  

When I had arrived, my feet hurt so much, and I made a comment about walking around and wearing the wrong kind of shoes.  Another nice guide (who’s name I did not get) said hey, take your shoes off!  I said, really? She said, sure!  I was OMG.  Not only was I delighted at the fact to remove my heeled sandals, but I almost well you know what a brick.  I got to tour Hemingway's house barefoot!  I danced in the foyer.  The tour guides laughed.

*side note: I seem to have this fascination with my bare feet, and the lack there of of NOT wearing shoes if I can help it.  I got married barefoot.  I ran around as a kid with no shoes on, ever!  Still do.  This tops the bare feet thing for me though.*

We began the tour and while many things in the home have been refurbished over the years, the foundation has worked very hard to try to recreate furniture and other things in the home to be how they were back in Hemingway's young days.  While he lived there just for a short time, but the essence his family left behind is just... powerful.  I won't bore anyone with the details of the home and such, but if you are curious just let me know.  Here are a few photos.

This is the sitting room, off the foyer.  The photo in the right hand corner is of Grace Hemingway, Ernest's mother.  It is placed just as it was when her father placed it when she moved in with him after her mother passed away, and before I think, she married Mr. Hemingway.  

Dining room table, replicated

Hemingway's birth certificate
Again, I have a lot more photos of the home.  Let me know if you want to see them!

There's just lots of coolness that goes with the home, the rooms, the family that lived there.  This weekend I'm off for 4 days in a row, and while I'll be busy packing last minute things, and job hunting (yes, still doing that) I might just create like a Hemingway blog or an extended post and toss in everything in more detail.

Oh, here's one last photo:

John and Julie, the awesome tour guides, in the library, with the stuffed owls 



  1. Now I see what I've been doing wrong — not enough stuffed owls!

    Great post.

  2. NICE, nice write up! I really enjoyed it. I think it's so cool that you went there - and all alone! Honestly though, I know what you mean. I would be interested in more pictures and information, this was really cool. Go barefoot!

  3. Interesting story about the owls, Mood... I'll relay it in my full post about the trip, which I think I will create this weekend. Thanks Derek for reading! All I need is one person interested LOL and I'll sit here all day uploading all my photos and writing down stuff. Might be a good portfolio piece too!


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