Just Discovered: Ernest Hemingway's Earliest Known Short Story, Written at Age 10

Courtesy of Sandra Spanier
Courtesy of Sandra Spanier

Ernest Hemingway was a born writer, as seen in a newly rediscovered work by the iconic 20th-century scribe. As Atlas Obscura reports, Hemingway’s earliest-known short story—a 14-page tale he wrote when he was just 10 years old—was recently found in the possession of family friends in Key West, Florida, where the author lived in the 1930s.

Written in a stained brown notebook—which was stored inside a Ziploc freezer bag and safeguarded inside an ammunition box—the untitled story from 1909 recounts a fictional trip to Ireland and Scotland, complete with descriptions of Hemingway’s journey to Europe by train and the ocean liner RMS Mauretania.

Courtesy of Sandra Spanier

The narrative is established through a series of diary entries and letters to Hemingway’s parents. The author's precise attention to detail—ranging from the number of propellers on his ship to local landmarks, like Blarney Castle, that he encounters during his stay—initially makes the work appear to be a true-life tale. (The freezer bag the notebook was stored in was also labeled “September 8, 1909, EH diary to Europe.”)

But according to Sandra Spanier, a Penn State professor and general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, Hemingway didn’t make it to Europe for the first time until he was much older. Plus, he never made the exact journey through Ireland and Scotland that he describes in the notebook.

"It’s a fascinating find, showing the young Hemingway’s interest in getting the details of place exactly right (even as he makes up the characters and incidents)," Spanier tells Mental Floss.

Courtesy of Sandra Spanier

The short story was found among the collection of Telly Otto “Toby” Bruce, Hemingway’s friend and former employee, who inherited a portion of the prolific author’s personal archive from the writer's fourth wife and widow, Mary Welsh Hemingway. The collection of manuscripts, photos, and memorabilia is today managed by Bruce’s son, Benjamin “Dink” Bruce, and is occasionally used for local exhibits and scholarly research.

In May 2017, Spanier and historian Brewster Chamberlin were combing through Bruce’s papers in Key West in preparation for the publication of volume four of the 17 total volumes that will comprise The Letters of Ernest Hemingway. While their eyes were peeled for missing letters from 1929 to 1931, they ended up finding the notebook, which also contains snippets of poetry and grammar notes.

It’s unclear whether Hemingway was writing the short story as a school English assignment, a literary contest submission, or simply for his own pleasure. Still, Spanier says that the find is “amazing; a real landmark piece of writing,” she told The New York Times. “It’s the first time we see Hemingway writing a sustained, imaginative narrative.”

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Tenino, Washington, Is Loaning Residents Wooden Money to Boost Its Economy

Pixabay, Pexels
Pixabay, Pexels

Like many places around the country, Tenino, Washington, has taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of writing checks to residents in need, the town is printing its own money on wood in an effort to boost the local economy, CNN reports.

Any Tenino resident living below the poverty line can apply for a wooden currency loan. To qualify, they must prove they lost money as a result of the pandemic, but as town mayor Wayne Fournier told The Hustle, “we’re pretty open to what that means.”

One wooden note is worth $25, and qualified candidates can receive up to 12 of them per month—the equivalent of $300. The dollars look unique, with a retro design and a Latin inscription that roughly translates to “We’ve got this handled.” But the special money serves a larger purpose: The notes are only valid at local businesses, which ensures spenders keep the cash within the local economy instead of giving it to major retailers. When a transaction has been made, business owners can take the currency to City Hall and exchange it for real U.S. currency.

This isn't Tenino's first time enduring economic hardship. By 1931, America had entered the Great Depression, and the town's local Citizens Bank had frozen all accounts. Tenino responded by printing its first run of wooden dollars that year. That original program, which was funded by the local Chamber of Commerce instead of the town government, allowed residents to exchange up to 25 percent of their bank deposits for the wooden notes.

Today the bills from the 1930s are collector's items. The town had that part of its history in mind when it launched its new alternative currency program; the wooden dollars circulating today were even printed using the same newspaper press used to make the wooden money 90 years ago.

[h/t CNN]