The writer’s legacy in the town that he helped transform
Photography Mark Oliver
Illustration Gina Scanlon
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On the morning of Ernest Hemingway’s death, long shadows tugged at a typewriter perched at the window where clear Idaho skies hovered over the Wood River Valley. Throughout his writing life, Hemingway had always visited Ketchum in the fall, when the impending winter carried a sharpness, and fallen aspen and cottonwood leaves perfumed the air with the bouquet of changing seasons. After much of a lifetime in Italy, Paris, Cuba, Spain and Africa, Ketchum had become home. Hemingway and his wife, Mary, left behind Caribbean fecundity for the arid West, a place where he had friends–actors, socialites and cowboys–from many years and many visits. This was his first summer.
Hemingway boasted never missing a sunrise, and the morning of July 2, 1961, was a glorious one. Sunlight spilled into the bedroom where he slept alone. Down the hall, in her separate room, Mary slept.