Tag Archives: Ernest Hemingway

Fats Waller Redux

For those who remember our visit to the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida there is a good story in today’s New York Times about the house, Hemingway, and the six toed cats who live there.

“There was very little that was safe or conventional in Ernest Hemingway’s life. The great writer hurled himself into danger in three wars, managed to survive two plane crashes on the same big-game safari in remote Africa, and precipitated many domestic dramas with a variety of love affairs in the course of his four marriages. “Moderation” appears to have been one word lacking from his otherwise superb vocabulary, even when it came to cats.

Meet Fats Waller

Six Towed Cat Image

If it looks like this kitten is wearing mittens, its because he has extra toes. About half of the fifty cats that occupy the Ernest Hemingway house in Key West are similarly “polydactyl” and are likely descendants of the six-toed cat, Snowball, who lived here 75 years ago as the great author’s pet.

This was our second visit to the Ernest Hemingway House (you can read Shannon’s original account on her Novel Destinations blog) and even as a rerun, it was still one of the most enjoyable author houses we’ve visited. It’s not just the house and grounds that are interesting, or the hordes of cats that seem to run the place, but the tour guides are a cut above what you normally find in other historic places. Professional and highly entertaining, without employing over-the-top theatrics, our guides at the Hemingway House were among the best we’ve seen anywhere. And Fats Waller–the cat, not the jazz musician–lent a paw by accompanying us the entire time, providing his unique perspective on what it’s like to live the high life in the tropical estate where Hemingway wrote To Have and Have Not. Although he could have easily fit in Shannon’s way oversize pocketbook, I wouldn’t let her smuggle him out.

Ernest Hemingway House, Key West Florida

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