Dr. Hilary Justice (JFK Library).
A Childhood Timeline
July 21: Ernest Miller Hemingway was born the second child and first son of Dr. Clarence Edmonds (Ed) and Grace Hall Hemingway. Dr. Ed announced his son's arrival from the wraparound porch of the family home at 339 North Oak Park Avenue, in Oak Park, Illinois, playing a fanfare on his cornet.
The new baby was named after his maternal grandfather, Ernest Hall, who owned the home and shared it with the young Hemingway family. The Hemingway children (there would eventually be six) called him "Abba."
Summer: Shortly after Ernest's birth, Ed and Grace took him and elder sister Marcelline (born 1898) to Bear Lake (later renamed Walloon Lake) in Michigan. Ernest would spent at least part of every summer in Northern Michigan through 1920.
Summer: The Hemingways spent the summer at Windemere, their summer cottage on Walloon Lake in Northern Michigan.
April: The Hemingways took Ernest and Marcelline to the Ringling Brothers' circus at the Chicago Coliseum. The family toured the Ringlings' "World's Greatest Menagerie" exhibition, which included a herd of 30 elephants.
In the scrapbook Grace kept for Ernest until he was 18 years old, she wrote, "Ernest Miller went to Ringling Bro. Circus at about 21 months old, and enjoyed it hugely. He saw performing elephants and is never tired of having you tell him about them."
She describes his reaction to the menagerie: "he got too excited to hold in any longer."
Grace continues, "He loves to walk like an elephant and imitate all sorts of animals." He would awaken his parents "oh so early" in the morning, asking his father to "tell Ernie bout dat big elephant."
May 20: In the months leading up to Ernest Hemingway's second birthday, Pawnee Bill's Wild West show performed in Oak Park. Grace and Clarence took their children Marcelline (age 3) and Ernest (22 months).
Billed (and sold to progressive parents like the Hemingways) as a "Great Educational Exhibition," Pawnee Bill's Wild West show was an enormous traveling spectacle.
Prior to the day of the show itself, the troupe and its menagerie arrived on its own dedicated train. As the Oak Park Times promised, the show offered a daily "Strange and Startling Street Parade" of the show and menagerie to literally drum up business. As Oak Park Avenue was the village's major north/south thoroughfare, the parade route went right past the Hemingways' house.
He loves to play that he is Pawnee Bill...
Grace Hemingway Scrapbook for Ernest Miller, vol. 1
The Wild West shows' spectacles cycled and varied from year to year; one recurring Pawnee Bill spectacle was the bullfight.
April 29: Birth of sister Ursula (Ura).
Dr. Hemingway experienced a bout of depression, then called a "nervous condition."
Ernest received a Pawnee Bill costume and wore it incessantly until he grew out of it the following summer.
November 28: Birth of sister Madelaine (Sunny).
May 10: Death of grandfather Ernest Hall. Grace Hemingway inherited the family home.
Summer: The Hiawatha play (based on The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) opened at Petoskey, Michigan, performed by the Anishinaabe people of the Garden River First Nation. The play was performed in Anishinaabemowin, accompanied by an English narrator. The Hemingways would attend annually for the next several years.
September: First day of school. At the age of six, Ernest Hemingway started attending the Oliver Wendell Holmes School on North Kenilworth Avenue in Oak Park. One of his first assigned readings was an excerpt from Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha.
Grace Hall Hemingway designed a new family home a few blocks away, at 600 North Kenilworth Avenue. The North Kenilworth home was more modern than the Queen Anne Victorian on Oak Park Avenue. Its design shows some small influence of Oak Park-native architect Frank Lloyd Wright's "prairie school." The North Kenilworth Avenue house boasted an acoustically perfect music room in which Grace taught private lessons.
Dr. Ed Hemingway suffered another depressive episode and traveled to New Orleans for treatment.
Naturalists Carl and Delia Akeley began the installation of the "fighting elephants" display at Chicago's Field Museum.
Akeley's Field Museum dioramas (taxidermy presented in a recreation of an animal's natural habitat) gave the child Ernest Hemingway his first glimpse of the greater kudu that would prove so elusive in Green Hills of Africa.
Ernest Hemingway started following Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt's African safari in the Chicago papers.