Ernest Hemingway was always a dog guy.
But something happened in Key West, Fla., that changed him: A local fisherman gave him a six-toed cat.
“That cat started his love for cats,” said Jacque Sands, the general manager of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. “You can see pictures of Hemingway writing and a cat up (near) his typewriter. Cats gave him a sense of peace when he was writing.”
Today, assumed descendants of that six-toed cat, named Snow White, as well as about a dozen employees of the museum will hunker down in Hemingway’s onetime home to ride out Irma. Transporting the cats in stop-and-go traffic, in 90-degree heat, was not an option, Sands said.
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“You cannot survive this,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents Saturday morning about the expected 12-foot storm surge.
And the National Weather Service issued this advisory one day earlier:
Forecasters think Irma will make landfall in Florida as a Category 4 with 140 mph peak winds.
But Sands said she, the approximately 50 cats and the other employees will be OK.
“I’ve been in this house in a (Category) 4. ... It’s one of the most fortified buildings on this island,” she said.
Hemingway lived in the home from 1931 to 1940. He was in his 30s for most of that period, and they were his most prolific years as a writer. “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “To Have and Have Not” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” among other works, were written in Key West.
He spent the mornings writing and toured the island city in the afternoons.
Years before, he briefly worked for The Kansas City Star as a cub reporter in 1917 and 1918.
Using Hemingway’s later writing as a basis, it’s clear that his time in Kansas City was one of the most important periods of his life. His experiences during that short period were recast and presented in at least five of his novels, four of his published sketches and half a dozen of his short stories. And there were other unpublished stories, specifically about his days in Kansas City, that were lost in 1922 in a train station.