Allie Baker

A

Welcome to my first post in the A to Z Challenge 2016!

Just to remind you, my theme for 2016 is Ernest Miller Hemingway (EMH).

Since today is “A” day, only one A will suffice, and that A stands for Allie. Allie Baker authored the blog entitled The Hemingway Project, the best blog you can find about all things EMH. Allie began her website in 2010 and her last post was about Larry Belcher, a longtime bull runner in Pamplona. She removed this post as it was supposed to be published in a periodical. I am not sure of the status of the article at this time, but I hope it gets published. The last post on her blog that you will see is “Hadley talks about Pauline and says something surprising,” dated October 2015.

Sadly, Allie passed away earlier this week, thankfully surrounded by her husband, Rich, and their sons, Andy and Matt.

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Allie was a big fan of EMH’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. She acquired a copy of some tapes made by Hadley and Alice Sokoloff in 1971 and 1972. Since Allie was previously a public librarian, she knew the ins and outs of libraries and scored a big coup when she acquired a copy of these tapes. I think everyone who visits The Hemingway Project on a regular basis enjoys getting to hear Hadley talk about her life with EMH in the US, Canada, and in Europe during their marriage. Hadley and EMH had one son together, known as Bumby when little and as Jack as an adult. Jack was the father of Joan, Margaux, and Mariel Hemingway. Hadley was the first of four wives of EMH.

If you are a fan of good writing and want to learn more about EMH, I urge you to read The Hemingway Project. Besides being a wonderful mother and wife, Allie was also an extraordinary writer. She had such talent and her writing was truly beautiful and inspiring. I cannot emphasize how often I would read a new post on her site and was awestruck at how lovely she strung sentences together that seemed to capture the essence of what she was trying to convey so wonderfully. Besides writing essays and articles about EMH-related topics, she also posted interviews she did with many scholars and others associated with the writer.

I was fortunate to first meet Allie in person at the 2012 Hemingway Conference in Michigan. I had corresponded with her for a couple of years before that, even chatting with her via Skype as she lived in Chile and then in Idaho. She contacted me via my blog, after noticing that I was a female aficionado of EMH’s as she was. I was thrilled to find someone as smart and talented and knowledgeable as Allie was that was also becoming a part of the Hemingway world. After meeting in Michigan, we planned a trip where I would visit her and her husband near Nerja, Spain, (where they would be living for a time) and then we would spend a week in Paris after exploring the Costa del Sol and Málaga. This trip came to fruition and will always be one of my special and cherished memories. We talked EMH, the Lost Generation, and literature to our hearts’ content. I got to see and experience one of the best parts of Spain, and then we had a week to enjoy Paris. Allie had been to Paris once before, but I was the more fluent one and more experienced one in Paris, as she had been in Spain—a wonderful balance.

Thanks for reading my A and first post in the 2016 A to Z Challenge and I hope you explore The Hemingway Project and see for yourself why I wanted to begin with Allie. I am going to miss my Hemingway friend and her sweet spirit that was one of the most positive and loving and funny ones that I will ever meet. A question I once asked Allie:

If you could interview Ernest Hemingway, what are some questions you would ask him?

Oh, wouldn’t that be fun! I would ask him all kind of things: Why he didn’t go back to Michigan more often and did he miss it?  Was he was ever able to credit his mother for any of his creativity and tenacity (even if only to himself)?  What he would do differently in his life if he had the chance?  Would he want to be a writer again in a next life?  Who did he consider his best friend?  What kinds of thoughts he had about God?  What subjects would he have liked to write about that he never got around to?  Did he felt exploited by his fame and at what point in his life did he grow tired of it?  I would ask if later in life he felt like an American or did he feel more identified with Cuba, not politically, but culturally, as an everyday citizen. I would certainly ask him about Hadley, too.

I hope Allie now has all her questions answered.

  14 comments for “Allie Baker

  1. April 1, 2016 at 11:04 AM

    April 1, here we go. I share close space with you on the list and so you are among my 1st blogs to read. And now, I’m following you. Something I am careful about in my selection. Look forward to your #Challenge subject, but a big factor in coming back….the clarity of your blog, easy to read, not all cluttered up with “stuff’ and hard to figure where you are supposed to go to do what. Congrats on the hard work it takes to create something worth reading and returning. Hope you will have time to visit me soon.

    • April 1, 2016 at 11:22 AM

      Hi, Stepheny! Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my first post for this year’s challenge. And thank you for the compliments. I will soon read your post. I actually cleaned up my blog not too long ago and got rid of some of the “clutter.” Cheers and you will hear from me soon! MDC

  2. April 1, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    Wow, Denise. This is just an amazing story. I marked Allie’s blog, but am so exceptionally moved by how you came to know her, correspond with her, and eventually meet in person in such a nice place — all due to your mutual love fro Hemingway and literature. Another example on how literature brings people together. So sad about her passing. But also thankful you shared this amazing story. A great start to the AZs this year!

    • April 1, 2016 at 12:14 PM

      Thanks, Silvia :-). Maybe we shall meet someday, too! Wouldn’t that be fun? I just love how literature and art and the humanities bring people together. Cheers, Denise

  3. randommusings29
    April 1, 2016 at 12:04 PM

    I’m so sorry to hear of Allie’s passing. Her blog sounds amazing and I hope her post still gets published
    Debbie

    • April 1, 2016 at 12:16 PM

      Thank you, Debbie. Allie was a special person. Come back again during the A to Z!

  4. April 1, 2016 at 7:17 PM

    Denise, wonderful tribute. I only knew Allie by email, but her death leaves a large gap in both Hemingway studies and in lives.

    • April 1, 2016 at 7:22 PM

      Thanks, Peter. Yes, a very large gap, indeed. Even just corresponding via email was a delight, I am sure.

  5. John E Sanford
    April 1, 2016 at 8:07 PM

    I met Allie/Wendy at 3 Hemingway Conferences: 2 2 in Ketchum, Idaho & 1 in Bay View, Mich. We shared northern Michigan summer roots, multiple cancers, love of poetry & prose, family & the creative spirit. I reluctantly submitted to her interview & was surprised how much fun it was & how well it turned out. She seemed like family. I will miss her. John Sanford

  6. April 1, 2016 at 8:41 PM

    Hi Denise,

    What a wonderful tribute! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

    • April 1, 2016 at 8:51 PM

      You’re welcome, Roscoe. And thank you. 🙂 Cheers, MDC

  7. Rich Simpson
    April 3, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    Thank you Denise for your tribute to Allie. It is difficult to put into words how grateful our family is to you and all of Allie’s amazing Hemingway friends. It was a joy to be with her during this wonderful time in her life as she developed The Hemingway Project. Her enthusiasm for learning was contagious. We miss her so much.
    Best Wishes,
    Rich, Andy, and Matt

    • April 3, 2016 at 10:15 AM

      You guys are so welcome. I am so grateful for having spent time with you and seeing such love in a family and Allie certainly will be in my thoughts for the rest of my life. And I am so grateful that you guys took such wonderful care of her. xoxo, D

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