After his interrogation, and before the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, there is no doubt that Ernest Hemingway was a changed man, and thereafter did associate himself more and more with the ordinary GI, sharing in his deprivations, his fox holes, and by associations, his dangers too. And it wasn’t only the interrogation that had brought about these changes — although they were significant — but the fact that his 21 year old son, Jack “Bumby” had been posted missing in action since October 28th, 1944. Hemingway was beside himself with worry.
John (Jack) Hadley Nicanor Hemingway was born on October 10th 1923, in Toronto. And by all accounts Jack’s mother, Hadley, brought the baby into the world laughing her head off, which had nothing to do with the midwife’s jokes, but to the fact that Hadley had been administered perhaps a tad too much laughing gas (Dinitrogen Monoxide) to ease the pain. Hemingway commented in a letter he wrote to Gertrude Stein (who became Jack’s Godmother) a day or two later that, “Hadley says the whole childbirth business has been greatly over-rated.”
Jack Hemingway spent his early years in the swirling, ex-pat infested Paris of the 1920s, with glorious holidays in the Austrian Alps where Hadley, and Ernest were probably happiest. To get a true feeling of those years read yet again Hemingway’s, A Moveable Feast, which includes this description of Hemingway arriving by train to join Hadley and Jack:
“ When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her. She was smiling, the sun on her lovely face tanned by the snow and sun, beautifully built, her red hair gold in the sun, grown out all winter awkwardly and beautifully, and Mr Bumby standing with her, blond and chunky and with winter cheeks looking like a good Vorarlberg boy.
“ ‘Oh Tatie,’ she said, when I was holding her in my arms, ‘you’re back and you made such a fine successful trip. I love you and we’ve missed you so.’”
On the train journey Hemingway had already decided to leave Hadley, and Jack.