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Happy Hour: What Hemingway Left in Sloppy Joe’s Bar

June 26 @ 4:00 pm 5:00 pm CDT

Sponsored by the ESU Central Pennsylvania Branch

Shortly after Ernest Hemingway’s death in 1961, his widow, Mary Hemingway, was contacted by the owner of Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, asking her to retrieve the materials that Hemingway had stored there since he moved to Cuba in 1939. With the aid of Hemingway’s longtime Key West friends Toby and Betty Bruce, Mary sorted through mountains of papers and belongings, took what she wished, and left the rest to the Bruces in gratitude for their help.

These materials remained in the family’s possession, stored on their property in Key West, for decades until their son, Benjamin “Dink” Bruce, decided that they should be in a safer place where they could be of use to scholars. He asked the advice of Sandra Spanier, whom he had allowed to study the collection on site in her work as General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project. In 2021 the largest known collection of Hemingway materials in private hands came to the Penn State University Special Collections Library, where it was opened for research in 2022.

Dr. Sandra Spanier will talk about some of her adventures in scholarship (including the discovery of Hemingway’s first short story, written at age 10) and some of the other treasures in this trove of thousands of documents, photographs, and artifacts. This ESU Happy Hour is sponsored by the ESU Central Pennsylvania Branch. ESU Happy Hour programs are online, free, and open to all members and the public. Registration is required. All programs take place on Eastern Time.

About Dr. Sandra Spanier

Sandra Spanier is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, which is producing the authorized scholarly edition of the writer’s more than 6,000 letters, being published by Cambridge University Press in a projected seventeen volumes. She has a B.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an M.A. and PhD. degrees from Pennsylvania State University.

Spanier serves on the Editorial Board of The Hemingway Review and was a consultant to the PBS documentary film series HEMINGWAY, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. She has been active in international collaborative efforts to conserve Hemingway’s papers in Cuba and restore his long-time home outside Havana and is a founding member of the Board of the Finca Vigía Foundation, which works to preserve Hemingway’s legacy in Cuba.

In addition to Hemingway, her research has focused on American women writers. Spanier’s Kay Boyle: Artist and Activist (1986), was the first book about the life and work of Kay Boyle (1902- 1992), a distinguished and prolific writer whose work merits wider recognition. She also edited and introduced Boyle’s Life Being the Best and Other Stories (1988) and Process: A Novel (2001) –Boyles long-lost first novel, the manuscript missing since the 1920s until Spanier discovered it in an archive. Her authorized edition of Boyles letters, Kay Boyle: A Twentieth- Century Life in Letters, Selected Letters 1919-1992, was published in 2015.

Spanier has also written about journalist and fiction writer Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), who did not wish to be remembered as Hemingway’s third wife. She worked with Gellhorn to bring into print her previously unpublished 1946 play Love Goes to Press: A Comedy in Three Acts (1995; revised edition. 2010)—a comic battle of the sexes set during World War II, featuring two women war correspondents and the ex-husband of one, whom she had divorced on the grounds of plagiarism. The play, a hit in London in 1946 and a flop on Broadway in 1947, was produced to critical acclaim in 2012 by the Mint Theater in New York.

Cocktail: Daiquiri

Two versions from which to choose:


2 oz. white rum

1 tsp. grapefruit juice

1 tsp. maraschino liqueur

½ oz. fresh lime juice

Frappe (chip or crush) some ice, add to shaker, then add remaining ingredients. Shake well, then pour into a chilled cocktail glass.


3 ¾ oz. white rum

2 oz. fresh lime juice

2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

6 drops maraschino liqueur

Blend well with ice. Serve in a large, chilled goblet.

Suggested reading: Islands in the Stream (“Cuba”)