1984 Winner Bill Young

1984 Winner: Bill Young

Bill passed away in January, 2010 but will always be remembered as the ultimate fan of al things Hemingway.  Bill and his lovely wife, Judy, have traveled the world in Hemingway’s footsteps. 

From trips to Oak Park, Illinois, the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, to Spain for the Running of the Bulls, to Ketchum, Idaho and to Sloppy Joe’s in Havana and Key West, Bill was a true aficionado and the only look-alike winner that could actually say he had met Ernest Hemingway. 

Bill single-handedly began the Hemingway Look-Alike Scholarship program and generously lent his time, talents and resources to help the fund grow and prosper.  With his assistance and support the society has been able to assist students residing in and around Key West further their education in the fields of writing and nursing.

If Bill Young’s smile could talk, it would be saying, “Aw, come on, we won’t get in any trouble.”  And Judy would have been right there beside him, looking for an escape route!  Bill’s smile said it all.

Bill and Judy met in Nashville, TN, where both were attending Peabody College, and Bill later finished college at the University of Vermont as an Air Force cadet.  After college, Bill was an Air Force pilot, and Judy flew for Eastern Air Lines and was based in Miami.  Her folks lived in Havana and in the summer of 1950, Bill and a friend flew down to visit her.  It was then that he asked her Dad if he could marry her. They were married in 1951.  Bill and Judy spent 30 years in Hollywood, FL, where Bill was in the real estate business, and then they retired to their home in Key Largo.  Bill was always ready to help the Look Alike Society with any undertaking, and it was his effort, single handedly, which started and nourished the now successful Scholarship program of the Look Alike Society.

Bill loved everything Hemingway and did his best to learn all he could about the man.  Bill and Judy traveled to Ernest’s birthplace in Oak Park, IL, Walloon Lake in Michigan, where the Hemingway family vacationed, and Piggott, AR, home of Ernest’s second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.  They visited the offices of the Toronto Star, where Bill spent the afternoon talking with a reporter who knew Hemingway when he worked there.  And one of Judy’s fondest memories is visiting the home Ernest and Mary shared in Ketchum, Idaho.  The guide let them in and said he’d be back in a few hours to pick them up.  They had the place to themselves, so Judy took the opportunity to jump into Ernest’s bed!

Bill won the Hemingway Look Alike Contest in 1984, almost 30 years after he met Ernest Hemingway in Spain.   Bill was still in the Air Force, stationed in Madrid, and, on October 12, 1956, Bill and Judy went up to Zaragosa with two friends, Reed Pittman and Tom Snell, along with two girls from Brown University.  Here is what happened, in Bill’s own words:  “The next afternoon we were hanging around the lobby of the Gran Hotel waiting for it to be time to go to the Plaza  de Toro’s when suddenly Reed said, ‘My God!  Look who the girls have cornered.”  Across the lobby at the entrance to the bar stood the girls from Brown in animated conversation with Mary Hemingway.  And, a little apart and to their rear towered Ernest Hemingway.

As we followed Reed over to where they were standing a hush fell over the lobby.  Archibald MacLeish was correct when he said Ernest sucked the air out of a room when he entered it.”

After some polite conversation about “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and the blowing up of the bridge, the company parted.  Later at the bull fight, “Antonio Ordonez spread his ceremonial cape over the rail in front of where the Hemingway’s were sitting and when Ernest stood to acknowledge the honor, the entire Plaza de Toro’s rendered an ear splitting standing ovation.  The Spaniards adored him though none of his books had been published in Franco’s Spain.”

Later, Ordonez made a dramatic kill of his final bull, and the crowd went wild.  Ordonez was awarded an ear for his valor.  “After his triumphant circle of the ring he tossed the ear to Mary.  She wrapped it in her silk handkerchief and gave it to the girls from Brown.”

 “When we got back to Madrid, Reed took it to a taxidermist who made it into a coin purse trimmed with Mary’s silk handkerchief.

We saw Hemingway one other time that fall at a benefit bull fight in a pueblo south of Madrid, and when Reed told him about the purse, the response was, “Well, I guess that proves that you can make a silk purse out of a cow’s ear.’”

Bill was an excellent writer.  And a wonderful human being.