Here’s the Free Advice I Got From Ernest Hemingway in a Mexican Cantina

The way my brother ran into Ernest Hemingway in a random Mexican joint is now a favorite family tale.

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Back in 1953, my older brother Irvin, a jockey, was racing in Mexico. His horse’s owner was a retired Army colonel named Frank Irvine. One day, Colonel Irvine invited my brother quail hunting. They drove out into the middle of nowhere and bagged all the quail they could handle. Afterward, they stopped off for a beer at the first cantina they stumbled upon. Inside the tiny, dimly lit cantina was a man sitting alone at a table. The colonel called out, “Ernie?”

The man looked up. “Frank?”

Would you believe it—they were old friends from the war. Then it got weirder.

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“Ernie, meet Irvin Guiney; Irv, this is my old friend Ernest Hemingway.”

They sat for a while drinking and talking. Hemingway questioned Irvin about being a jockey: what it felt like, what it sounded like, what the thought processes were—everything.

I’d always wanted to be a writer and loved hearing how Hemingway’s brain worked. So thanks to my brother, I got a writing lesson from Ernest Hemingway.

MORE: 12 Ernest Hemingway Quotes That Will Inspire You to Live Boldly

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Originally Published in Reminisce