LOUDONVILLE -- Louis Bromfield, local author and conservationist, was well known for hosting Hollywood elites at his farm, but he was also close friends with many literary figures.
During his years in Paris, Bromfield became a respected member of what was known as the "Lost Generation" of poets and writers, many of whom became celebrated for their works.
His parties were attended by Gertrude Stein ("The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas") and he joked with Erich Maria Remarque ("All Quiet on the Western Front"). Bromfield was also said to rub elbows with T.S. Eliot ("The Hollow Men"), Upton Sinclair ("The Jungle"), Pablo Picasso (artist), Edith Wharton ("The House of Mirth"), Ezra Pound ("The Cantos"), James Joyce ("Ulysses") and others.
He vacationed with F. Scott Fitzgerald ("The Great Gatsby") and his wife, Zelda. But according to Morley Callaghan ("The Loved and the Lost") the Fitzgeralds were offended when they called on Bromfield at his home in Senlis and he answered the door in slippers ... so they never came back.
He toured New Orleans with Edna Ferber ("Cimarron") while researching his book "Wild is the River," but she stole one of his stories before he could publish it and that episode destroyed their friendship. Ten years later she sent him the large, cast-iron stableboy figure she purchased with him in New Orleans as a peace offering -- it still stands in front of Malabar Farm today.
Bromfield helped mentor a young Ernest Hemingway ("A Farewell to Arms") whose first novel, "The Sun Also Rises," shares many themes with Bromfield's "The Green Bay Tree."
Hemingway later wrote that, "Bromfield has opened my eyes but there is no use my trying to write like him...as I haven't the education (or) the ease and social position."
Finally, E.B. White ("Charlotte's Web") memorialized Bromfield's home in a poem published in The New Yorker:
"Malabar Farm is the farm for me,
It's got what it takes to a large degree:
Beauty, alfalfa, constant movement,
And a terrible rash of soil improvement.
Far from orthodox in its tillage,
Populous as many a village,
Stuff being planted and stuff being written,
Fields growing lush that were once unfitten,
Bromfield land, whether low or high land,
Has more going on than Coney Island.
When Bromfield went to Pleasant Valley,
The soil was hard as a bowling alley;
He sprinkled lime and he seeded clover,
And when it came up he turned it over.
From far and wide folks came to view
The things that a writing man will do.
The more he fertilized the fields
The more impressive were his yields,
And every time a field grew fitter
Bromfield would add another critter,
The critter would add more manure, despite 'im,
And so it went-ad infinitum.
It proves that a novelist on his toes
Can make a valley bloom like a rose."
More information on the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum can be found at this link.