I remember meeting Allie Baker at the Hemingway Conference in Petoskey in 2012. She was immediately delightful, a rare melange of demure and fierce. We became instant friends and I told her I would be delighted to help with the Hemingway Project. We spent lots of time on the phone and email. Allie was an uncannily expert interviewer with a combination of insight and diligence that will make the Hemingway Project a permanent and invaluable part of Hemingwayana, a unique contribution.
Two Allie anecdotes, sort of.
1) When I was going through a seriously bad time, I called Allie. She was already battling cancer as hard as she could, yet she summoned the strength somehow to buoy me up and give me strength. It was selfless and incalculable, dear and unforgettable. It literally made me a different person and her selflessness will remain with me as her most endearing quality, utterly Allie.
2) Allie and her family spent time in Maro, right next to my favorite town of Nerja, both on the Costa del Sol, on the east of Malaga. We were never there at the same time but we talked often about those places and about our families being there together someday. Not long after Allie died, I was in Nerja. The weather was less than ideal and it rained everyday. From where I was staying, on the far eastern side of Nerja, I could see across the long beach the cliffs and the town of Maro. One morning I was looking across at Maro in the mist. And I could see Allie walking the cobbled streets of that town in sunshine, ushering in alegria (Spanish happiness) wherever she went, the alegria trailing her like a good dog, swallows surrounding her laughter in Allie-gria, Allie Francisca, la santa de Maro, the way I will always remember her. Then the sun dimmed and I saw Allie in the mist of Maro on the cliff above the Mediterranean. Allie in the mist in Maro. Allie in the mist. Allie in the rain. Then I couldn’t see Maro. (from my notebook, Nerja, May 8, 2016)
Allen Josephs, June 14, 2016
* Excerpted from Ernest Hemingway and Allen Josephs: Coming of Age in Spain, Hemingway.”