Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Unusual Phone Call

Last week we received about nine inches of snow. It was truly welcome as our trails were starting to get a little bare. This was a wet heavy snow that is packing into some beautiful ski trails. Unlike most snows, however, we have not been able to just go out and pack the trails. The snow was so heavy that trees and shrubs were over laden and came down on all the trails. Since then we have had crews out with nippers and chainsaws clearing. At times it has been 4 guys for a day. Once a trail is cleared, it is groomed and tracked into a beautiful ski route. But we are not finished yet. The last two trails are Ham Lake and Lonely Lake. The guys hope to get them finished during the early part of the week. The ones that are now open are worth all the work that went into clearing.

You can imagine how many times we answer the telephone here at the lodge. So last Sunday night I picked up the phone and gave my line, “Gunflint Lodge, this is Sue.” Someone on the other end gave his name and then said, “Do you know Ben Gallagher?” Well of course I do. He is the man who bought an island in Magnetic Bay in the early 1920’s (before the road to Gunflint) and turned it into a lovely summer home. Bruce and I have lots of stories about Ben and his wife during the almost 50 years they summered here.

Imagine my surprise as I listened to this man tell me that he was working on a book about Ernest Hemingway (The Ernest Hemingway) and guns that he had owned. Investigating letters in the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library at Harvard, he came across some letters from Ben Gallagher to Hemingway. Apparently the two of them had known each other in Paris during the late 1930’s. Ben was working for a U. S. Bank in Paris and would hunt with his friend “Hem.”

One letter written in July of 1938 reads like Hemingway was planning to visit the island. Unfortunately a lightening fire destroyed the main cabin. Ben, his wife, Mama (with the accent on the last syllable), and the servants were leaving to go see what had happened and to start rebuilding. They hoped to have things in shape for Hemingway’s visit in September.

What brought the researchers to us was the ending of the letter. There Ben gives the address of where to write to him – Gunflint Lodge, Grand Marais, Minn. Roger Sanger, the caller, found us on the internet and decided to make a call. Probably only Bruce or I would have been able to help him.

We have all heard about everyone being three degrees of separation for anyone else. Well, I am TWO degrees of separation from Ernest Hemingway. So there!

1 comment:

Teresa said...

I love this story Sue!!! If the gentleman ever would like photos of "the island" I have "a few" (read - obsessively a few too many!). Love the island so always love stories about it and its connection to Gunflint Lodge! Thanks for sharing!