2013 Winner: Stephen Terry
I’ve had a full beard for most of my adult life, and it was red before I shaved it off when my daughter was born in 1994. After a couple years, I decided to regrow it - Only instead of the red color, it grew back red and white. As time went on and the beard changed from red to white, friends repeatedly encouraged me to enter the Hemingway Look-Alike contest. However the timing of the contest was bad, as my wife belongs to a social organization that sponsors a large charity ball the same weekend. This went on for several years until 2007, when out of kindness; they moved the charity ball so I could come to Key West for the contest. While disappointed about not making it to the finals in the first three years, I really enjoyed the comradery; what a friendly bunch of guys! Made some friends along the way and received some good advice from those with more experience than myself on standing out from the crowd. The best advice from one of the Papas – “Put the mike right up against your mouth when you talk into it - Eat the mike!”)
Took in everyone’s advice and then in 2010, I made it into the final 24 for the first time. What a day! My wife was watching from Joe’s Tap Room – as I entered the room she screamed “You’re going to get the best sex of your life tonight!” probably a little louder than she intended. A number of the Papa’s were there and everyone had a laugh. But many remembered it the next year. It was time to take it more seriously (but not too serious) after that. I needed an advertising budget.
In 2011, I got involved (along with Wally Collins) with the Hemingway Colloquium in Havana through Brian Gordon Sinclair. What an experience – a room full of academics with Wally and me. But I came to appreciate I was amazed at the amount of interest that was generated by our presence. We were able to present a paper at the colloquium written by a gentleman from the US who could not get a visa.
2012 was the first year of the heavy, black wool sweater. As one can imagine, wearing a heavy wool fishing sweater in an open Key West bar on a hot July afternoon is not for the faint-hearted. But I survived the day and lost a few pounds to boot.
Went back to the Hemingway Colloquium in Havana in 2013, only this time we took down a large group of HLAS members. Ada Rosa made everyone feel most welcome and I think everyone had an enjoyable experience. The press published a number of good photos and interviews while HLAS received some very positive exposure. It was only a couple weeks later that it happened – they called my name.
I have little recollection of the first 30 minutes after winning the contest. Congratulations, cameras, questions, interviews… it was all a blur. All I remember was a woman shouting “Let’s get outside… we’re losing the light.” I was fortunate to have a great group of friends and family there, one of which taped much of the contest. The greatest thrill of winning the contest came the next morning while getting photographed in Papa’s study behind his house. I found myself sitting in front of Papa’s typewriter and realized what a privilege it was to be there. It has been a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Best advice – Get to know the Papa’s and make friends with your fellow contestants. If you don’t win, maybe one of your friends will and that is just as good. Enjoy the journey…