An Afternoon in Oak Park

DSC_0265Recently when Mallory and I have been together, we’ve ended up talking about books and writing. So about three weeks ago, while waiting for our cheese and pepperoni at California Pizza Kitchen, she listed some of the classics she’s been reading lately and in the process mentioned Ernest Hemingway.

“Not a super good role model,” I told her. “He married a lot of women and drank a lot of alcohol.”

“I know, but I’d like to read one of his books. Maybe like The Old Man and the Sea.”

“A story of a Cuban fisherman fighting a marlin,” I told her. “I read it on a flight from Chicago to New York, so it’s not too long.  But wait, how would you like to visit his house and learn more about him? Maybe over spring break?”

So that’s what we did. We arrived at lunchtime, parked the car and then wandered around in the Hemingway Historic District. (A place well known to me because coincidentally it’s where I get my taxes done which has nothing to do with our trip nor anything to do with Hemingway.)

We looked around for a place to eat and found a small cafe, cozy and filled with a group of ladies celebrating “Margaret’s” birthday. We chose the salad bar and talked about the quaintness of the restaurant. Afterwards we wandered up to a bookstore that was quite proud of the fact that it was started by women, owned by a woman and only women worked there. Which didn’t necessarily make me anymore anxious to browse, but I will say the woman behind the counter was friendly, kind and helpful.

I mentioned to her that we were thinking of getting a cupcake at a bakery across the street, but she told us that we shouldn’t because they use “oil.” Instead we should go to the one down the street that used cream and butter. “Down under the tracks,” she told us.

So we walked “down under the tracks” and out the other side – but they didn’t have cupcakes, just cookies and pies. We each got a cookie and then meandered back up the street, enjoying the cityscape.

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Interestingly, the town’s couples were transforming the fence under the bridge into a Pont des Arts bridge – with padlocks signed and dated by the couples. Didn’t have quite the same effect as a bridge over the Seine River in Paris, but it’s an attempt. (And the bridge railing in Paris has been removed because the padlocks had reached a weight of 48 tons and there were fears that the whole bridge would topple over and hit a boat below. Look up the pictures on the internet – interesting.)

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Last time I was here, you went to the museum first where there were several pictures and exhibits of Hemingway’s books, but that is temporarily closed s they are putting a new museum behind the house so everything is in one place. (Before the two locations were separated by a few blocks.)

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The area is filled with sprawling Victorian houses and you can imagine life in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the upper middle class sat on their porches on warm summer nights.

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Get it? The Old Man and the Sea … the Young Girl and the Sign.DSC_0267

More about the inside of the house … and what we learned in my next post.

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