​​For Ernest Hemingway 1919 was a year of healing and changes. During the summer of 1918 he traveled to Italy where he served in World War I as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. One day while delivering cigarettes and candy to solders at the front, he was severely wounded. An exploding shell and machine gun fire left the doctors thinking that he would never walk again and would be a cripple. This near death experience left Hemingway both emotionally and physically shattered and, as he began his recovery, he fell in love with his nurse, Agnes Von Kurkowski. By December he was well enough to travel home to Oak Park where he continued his healing at his parents' home and dreamed of marriage to Agnes.

His time at home was difficult. He missed his girl, resented living at his parents' home, and longed to recapture the excitement he had experienced in Europe. He did several speaking engagements (including one at Oak Park High School where he captivated the staff and students with stories of the war). Then in early March he received a letter from Agnes in Italy telling him she had fallen in love with another man and that she was ending her relationship with Ernest. This left him devastated.

He looked to Michigan as a place to escape his parents' increasingly uncomfortable concern over his future plans and to heal his physical and emotional wounds. Anxious to recreate previous summers of sport and good times, he corresponded with a number of friends urging them to join him. These included his war time friend Jim Gamble who he pleaded with to spend time with him "up north.

Black River Once at Walloon Lake, he spent most of his time at Horton Bay and he went with friends on fishing trips to a favorite area called the Pine Barrens near what is today Vanderbilt, Michigan. There they camped and fished the Black and ,Sturgeon River Fishing pic1 fishing pic2

But perhaps the highlight of his summer was a trip he took with Jock Pentacost and Larry Barnett to the Fox River near Seney in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. This trip and that trout stream would eventually be the inspiration for perhaps his most famous and best short story, The Big Two Hearted River. In this story a wounded young man fishes deliberately and heals his body and mind.

In the fall Ernest stayed in Michigan and moved to a rooming house in Petoskey run by Eva Potter when both Windemere and Pinehurst were closed for the season. In Petoskey he made friends with local schoolgirls such as Grace Quinlan and spent time with Majrorie Bump, a girl who he had met at Pinehurst where she was a waitress. On one occasion he was asked to speak about his war experiences at the local library. Harriet Connable heard his talk and approached him about coming to live with her family in Toronto to provide companionship to her disabled son. Hemingway agreed and spent 5 months in Toronto before returning to Michigan. While there he also established contacts that lead to a job as a Toronto Star newspaper reporter.