HEMINGWAY FISHING TRAVELS Using Hemingway's own maps and diaries of the period, Don Johnson found- then fished- in many of the same rivers, lakes and creeks as the famous author. JOHNSON: Those diaries contain things like.. notations of "Bananas, 7 cents" or "Saturday Evening Post, ten cents". On the next page you've got an annotation or thought that goes "Tough looking lumberjack, Indian woman.. old railroad station Macelona.. lumberjack kills woman, then kills self". This isn't the over-active imagination of a 15 or 16-year old boy. He knew, I think even then, that he was going to be a writer. And he was salting away ideas and stories for later. The Northern Michigan fishing trip by a 15-year old Hemingway would later inspire some of the Nick Adams stories- based on the Manastee River, Bear Creek, Walton Junction, the town of Mayfield, the Boardman and Rapid Rivers and Walloon Lake. JOHNSON: As a Hemingway aficionado, it gave me a sense of the man- of some of the places and scenery that had stimulated him. I've even sought out places like Horton Creek in Horton Bay, Michigan where some of the greatest Nick Adams stories take place.. Three Day Blow, The End of Something. Little streams like the Mini Ha Ha that no one even knew he fished I suspect, until we dug it out of the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library in Boston. Johnsonís greatest thrill was visiting the Fox River in the upper peninsula of Michigan. which was re-named The Big Two-Hearted River in Hemingway's classic short story. JOHNSON: You can go up there now and find the exact scenery he was talking about: the burnt-over pine plain, the pools on the bends in the rivers, the snags in the river, the old lumber dam. In July and August when it gets real hot, you can still see the grasshoppers that he talked about catching, hopping between the stumps of the pine trees. I tell you what I did do. Like Hemingway, I did cook up spaghetti and beans in the same plate. And I did have apricots for desert. And I made coffee "according to Hopkins" dumping the grounds into a pot and throwing water in and just boiling it. FLYNN: How bad was it? JOHNSON: It was pretty bad. (laughs) An 18-year old Don Johnson fell in love with the Hemingway style. JOHNSON: It was the sense of adventure he caught. The fishing scenes from The Sun Also Rises- some of the most moving, descriptive that I've ever encountered in my life. He has a way of capturing place.. the feelings of the indigenous people.. The true essence of what a river is and what one feels when one enters a river, the joy of catching a wild fish, the comradeship of friends- he catches it better than any other American writer I've read. Hemingway was a great all-around outdoorsman, a superb shot with a gun, and always very competitive. He was fishing almost every day in the 1930s and 40s- beginning in Key West, Florida, then moving to Cuba in 1939 to battle marlin and sailfish off the coast. And though Hemingway would never return to fish Michigan after he left in 1920, Johnson believes the writer's fishing heart always remained- JOHNSON: I think he became maybe a captive of his own persona on that Gulf Stream after a while. And that the lure of outlasting a large Marlin may have become common place and boring to him. He was a man, who once he experienced something, generally speaking, never went back and experienced that again. He always went on to new worlds and adventures. And oftentimes sadly I think, it always had to be larger. Though subject to debate, Johnson says it's the northern Michigan, Nick Adams- based stories where the author is at his best. JOHNSON: And even though An Old Man and the Sea is Nobel Prize winner, I don't think you get any better than the writing in The Sun Also Rises and The Big Two-Hearted River- recapturing, remembering what it was like to be young and alive with his friends in Northern Michigan and on those Michigan streams. He's got this wonderful quote from On Writing: "He loved the summer. It used to be that he felt sick when the first of August came and he realized that there was only four more weeks before the trout season closed. Now that way, he had it sometimes in dreams. He would dream that summer was nearly gone and he hadn't been fishing. It made him feel sick in the dream as though he had been in jail." Former member of the board of directors of the Hemingway Foundation of Oakpark, Illinois, Don Johnson. Bill Flynn, WXXI-1370.