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11. The Ram - TravelStorys

Hemingway in Idaho's High Desert

Location Trip Time Travel Type
Idaho 1 hour

11. The Ram

Look for a tan-colored building with green trim and try to spot the sign for the Ram restaurant and bar, which has been welcoming resort visitors since 1937. Legend has it that "The Hokey Pokey" dance was created here by Larry LaPrise, one of the members of the Ram Trio, a local musical group that provided tunes for the many apres-ski parties for nearly thirty years. Some say that it was at one of these bashes in the 40s that "The Hokey Pokey" was born. The Ram was also one of Hemingway's main haunts during his early visits to Sun Valley in the late 30s and early 40s. He and Martha frequently enjoyed quality food and drink at the Ram with friends. Their companions included Gene Van Guilder, a young and talented Sun Valley publicist, and Lloyd Arnold, who was a photographer for the Union Pacific Railroad. Gene and Lloyd had been behind the original idea to invite Hemingway to come to Sun Valley, and became his fast friends. They took him in those first few days to canoe Silver Creek, shoot trap at the Gun Club, and ride horses on the mountain trails around Adam's Gulch. After reading an encyclopedia borrowed from Lloyd, Ernest reportedly said to him, "a hell of a lot of state, this Idaho, that I didn't know about." Lloyd's wife, Tillie, who ran a camera shop in Sun Valley Village, asserts that Ernest was never happier than when surrounded by good friends and good food. As he once said to her, "there is no place better for conversation than with your feet under a table and a place for your elbows to rest." She remembers that though Papa loved many activities, there may not be any he loved as much as a "long, stimulating, after-dinner conversation": "Of course, he loved to tell his own stories, but the really remarkable thing about him was how good a listener he was– how he genuinely wanted to hear what others at the table had to say." Papa's inclination to listen combined with his love of storytelling meant that they would often "talk late into the night." Bud Purdy, a rancher and close friend of Ernest's, remembered Papa's good-naturedness regarding his fans: "sometimes when we'd go into the Ram, there would be people wanting his autograph. He never brushed them off. He was always polite. I never saw him rude, ever." The Ram's effect on Hemingway is immortalized by a mention in his short story, "The Shot," in which he describes an antelope hunt in the Pahsimeroi Valley northeast of Sun Valley. You can read this article in the Library.

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