News, Culture & Society

Caretaker of Ernest Hemingway’s FL home rides out storm

The 72-year-old caretaker of the Ernest Hemingway home in Key West refused to leave the historic building with the 54 cats who live there as Irma barrelled toward Florida, despite being begged to evacuate by the author’s granddaughter.

Jacqui Sands, who is the manager of the house, has elected to remain with the family’s 54 six-toed cats and other members of staff.

The house, which was built in 1851, is 16 feet above sea level, has 18-inch-thick limestone walls and three generators.

 

The 72-year-old caretaker of the Ernest Hemingway home (pictured) in Key West refused to leave the historic building with the 54 cats who live there as Irma barrelled toward Florida, despite being begged to evacuate by the author’s granddaughter

Volunteer Nicole Navarro also elected to stay at the author's former home despite the hurricane

The house is 16 feet above sea level, has 18-inch-thick limestone walls and three generators

Jacqui Sands, who is the manager of the house, has elected to remain with the family’s 54 six-toed cats and other members of staff (pictured is volunteer Nicole Navarro)

'As our staff member, Nicole Navarro was confirming all cats were accounted for, the cat Grace Kelly (pictured) took over roll call,' staff members wrote on the home's Facebook page Saturday night

‘As our staff member, Nicole Navarro was confirming all cats were accounted for, the cat Grace Kelly (pictured) took over roll call,’ staff members wrote on the home’s Facebook page Saturday night

Ernest Hemingway (right) stands with a fishing rod and a marlin, while Captain Joe Russell from Key West looks on

Ernest Hemingway (right) stands with a fishing rod and a marlin, while Captain Joe Russell from Key West looks on

‘As our staff member, Nicole Navarro was confirming all cats were accounted for, the cat Grace Kelly took over roll call,’ staff members wrote on the home’s Facebook page Saturday night. 

The post was accompanied with a photo of one of the cats peering at a list of names. 

Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel Hemingway, even begged Sands to leave her grandfather’s home on Friday ahead of the hurricane. 

The actress told TMZ that she thinks it’s ‘absolutely wonderful’ that Sands is trying to take care of the cats, but despite it all she needs to evacuate. 

Mariel Hemingway (pictured) said Sands is an 'admirable person for trying to stay there and save the cats and the house,' but ultimately 'it's just a house'. 'Save the cats! Get all the cats in the car and take off!' Mariel told Sands on Friday

Mariel Hemingway (pictured) said Sands is an ‘admirable person for trying to stay there and save the cats and the house,’ but ultimately ‘it’s just a house’. ‘Save the cats! Get all the cats in the car and take off!’ Mariel told Sands on Friday

Mariel said Sands is an ‘admirable person for trying to stay there and save the cats and the house,’ but ultimately ‘it’s just a house’. 

‘Save the cats! Get all the cats in the car and take off!’ Mariel told Sands. 

The author’s former home serves as a museum where polydactyl cats – six toes – roam freely.

Some of the cats are said to be descendants of Hemingway’s own six-toed cat, Snow White, who was given to him by a local fisherman. 

‘That cat started his love for cats,’ Sands told the Miami Herald. ‘You can see pictures of Hemingway writing and a cat up (near) his typewriter. Cats gave him a sense of peace when he was writing.’

THE HEMINGWAY CATS 

Ernest Hemingway was given, Snow White, a six-toed cat by Captain Stanley Dexter in 1928. 

According to the Hemingway Home and Museum website, some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat. 

Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. 

Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people of his time, such as actor Rudolph Valentino, novelist Martha Gellhorn, dancer Isadora Duncan and Italian actress Gina Lolabrigida. 

Staffers at the museum have continued that tradition. 

According to the Hemingway Home and Museum website, some of the cats (pictured) who live on the museum grounds are descendants of the original cat, Snow White 

According to the Hemingway Home and Museum website, some of the cats (pictured) who live on the museum grounds are descendants of the original cat, Snow White 

Source: Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum 

Sands said she didn’t want to take the chance transporting the cats in stop-and-go traffic, in 90-degree heat.

On Thursday, the Jay Fairbank Construction company installed plywood hurricane panels on the museum as staffers prepared for Hurricane Irma.

The museum’s executive director Dave Gonazlez confirmed that they were ‘stocked up on food, water, supplies and medication for the cats’.

Gonazlez said that each building at the museum will have entrances for the cats in case they need to escape. 

The bathrooms will have chairs and benches as well as drains inside of them, keeping the cats from potentially drowning while they seek shelter, according to Chron.com. 

Gonzalez said he expects the Hemingway property to be fine during the hurricane, adding that it isn’t their first.  

Hemingway lived in the home from 1931 to 1940. He was in his 30s for most of that period. For Whom the Bell Tolls, To Have and Have Not and The Snows of Kilimanjaro were all written in Key West.

The author's former home serves as a museum where polydactyl cats (pictured) - six toes - roam freely. Some of the cats are said to be descendants of Hemingway's own six-toed cat, Snow White, who was given to him by a local fisherman

The author’s former home serves as a museum where polydactyl cats (pictured) – six toes – roam freely. Some of the cats are said to be descendants of Hemingway’s own six-toed cat, Snow White, who was given to him by a local fisherman

One adorable car was found sleeping on the bed at the home and museum of Hemingway 

One adorable car was found sleeping on the bed at the home and museum of Hemingway 

These dedicated staff members stayed to ride out the storm alonsidge Sands and safeguard the property along with its 54 famous six-toed feline residents 

These dedicated staff members stayed to ride out the storm alonsidge Sands and safeguard the property along with its 54 famous six-toed feline residents 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk