Featuring Hemingway's only full-length play, The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War brilliantly evokes the tumultuous Spain of the 1930s. These works, which grew from Hemingway's adventures as a newspaper correspondent in and around besieged Madrid, movingly portray the effects of war on soldiers, civilians, and the correspondents sent to cover it.
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December 31, 1937
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Excerpt from The Fifth Column by Ernest Hemingway
Chicote's in the old days in Madrid was a place sort of like The Stork, without the music and the debutantes, or the Waldorf's men's bar if they let girls in. You know, they came in, but it was a man's place and they didn't have any status. Pedro Chicote was the proprietor and he had one of those personalities that make a place. He was a great bartender and he was always pleasant, always cheerful, and he had a lot of zest. Now zest is a rare enough thing and few people have it for long. It should not be confused with showmanship either. Chicote had it and it was not faked or put on. He was also modest, simple and friendly. He really was as nice and pleasant and still as marvelously efficient as George, the chasseur at the Ritz bar in Paris, which is about the strongest comparison you can make to anyone who has been around, and he ran a fine bar.
In those days the snobs among the rich young men of Madrid hung out at something called the Nuevo Club and the good guys went to Chicote's. A lot of people went there that I did not like, the same as at The Stork, say, but I was never in Chicote's that it wasn't pleasant. One reason was that you did not talk politics there. There were caf ' s where you went for politics and nothing else but you didn't talk politics at Chicote's. You talked plenty of the other five subjects though and in the evening the best looking girls in the town showed up there and it was the place to start an evening from, all right, and we had all started some fine ones from there.
Then it was the place where you dropped in to find out who was in town, or where they had gone to if they were out of town. And if it was summer, and there was no one in town, you could always sit and enjoy a drink because the waiters were all pleasant.
It was like a club only you didn't have to pay any dues and you could pick a girl up there. It was the best bar in Spain, certainly, and I think one of the best bars in the world, and all of us that used to hang out there had a great affection for it.