All great cities have an air of romance: think of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, Buenos Aires and the tango, Kansas City and ... cows. But Kansas Citians can hijack some of the allure of Spain, France and Africa by exploiting our town's cameo appearances in Ernest Hemingway's works. Papa was just eighteen when he arrived in October 1917, eager to start his first job as reporter with The Kansas City Star
. (The paper reveals prime Hemingway-tour information at kcstar.com/hemingway.
) Sure, he left after about six months to join a World War I ambulance corps in Italy. But when out-of-town guests turn up their noses at barbecue, take them on a Hemingway tour. Start at Union Station, where Ernie rescued an unconscious smallpox victim, taking the patient by taxi to the hospital. He wrote it up under the headline "Throng at Smallpox Case." Then stop by the old General Hospital site at 24th and Cherry, where Hemingway got material for his charming chronicle of the graveyard shift's parade of shooting, stabbing and fistfight victims titled "At the End of Ambulance Run." Look in on the Star
's offices at 17th and Grand, where a main-entrance display memorializes the leathery man of letters. Head south to 3629 Warwick Boulevard, the home of Hemingway's aunt and uncle, and 3733 Warwick, where Hemingway boarded during his Star
tenure. Cross the state line and check out 6435 Indian Lane in Mission Hills, where Hemingway stayed with his pregnant wife in 1928 while writing his classic A Farewell to Arms
. Tell guests that Jake Barnes, a journalist in The Sun Also Rises
, was a Kansas Citian. And then quote Hemingway's 1933 story "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen": "In those days the distances were all very different, the dirt blew off the hills that now have been cut down, and Kansas City was very like Constantinople.''