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Love and Folly: Hemingway’s “Trophy” Gift

Ernest Hemingway's Folly Ranch Loving Cup

The trophy as I saw and photographed it on my visit to The Wyoming Room while writing Cockeyed Happy.

In 1928, Ernest Hemingway and his friend Bill Horne arrived at Folly Ranch, a dude ranch in the Bighorn Mountains owned by the Donnelley family. As Horne, a Princeton alum, wrote of their arrival at the ranch in a first-person piece for the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1979: “On a plateau 8,000 feet up, we reached our destination, the Folly Ranch, owned by Eleanor Donnelley. At least 16 lovely girls, mostly Eleanor’s Bryn Mawr classmates, were waiting to greet us—including my future wife, Frances “Bunny” Thorne. The place turned out to be heaven, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, with a swell cook, Folly the collie, and some active trout ponds.”

Bunny Thorne and Ernest Hemingway at Folly Ranch

Bunny Thorne and Ernest perch on the running board of his Ford in 1928.

Several romances blossomed on the ranch that summer: Eleanor “Darn” Donnelley met Pardee Erdman and they married later that year; Bill Horne met Bunny Thorne, and they married in 1929, spending their honeymoon at Folly Ranch from August 24 to September 8.

As a thank you following his stay, Hemingway gifted to the ranch in 1929 a pewter bowl he’d had engraved with the words “HEMINGWAY-HORNE TROPHY, Folly Ranch Loving Cup, 1928 Darn-Pardee, 1929 Bunny-Bill.”

The Wyoming Room book and The Folly Ranch Loving Cup

The Loving Cup as pictured in the Judy Slack/The Wyoming Room book based on her research.

The trophy now stands on display in The Wyoming Room at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, a gift to The Wyoming Room from Eleanor and Pardee’s daughter Lynn Diego Saez-Falcon on August 23, 2011. The bowl is part of a Hemingway archive chronicling Hemingway’s time in the Sheridan/Big Horn area of Wyoming, gathered by librarian Judy Slack – whose research proved a valuable resource for my own research in writing Cockeyed Happy: Ernest Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers with Pauline. A photo of the cup and its story is also included in the book that Judy published, Ernest Hemingway: His 1928 Stay in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.