Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘author’

Malabar Farm, Home of Louis Bromfield

Malabar The Big House

The “Big House” served as home to Louis Bromfield, his wife and three daughters.

Enter Pleasant Valley to find Malabar Farm, the dream of Louis Bromfield. Tour his “Big House”, visit animals in his barn, or follow the self-driven auto tour of Shawshank Redemption film sites. Spend a day or a weekend.

Malabar Smokehouse

Bricks for this smokehouse came from the Mansfield home of Henry Wallace, vice-president of the United States under Franklin Roosevelt.

Louis Bromfield, Pulitzer Prize winning author, was born in Mansfield. After a variety of experiences, he returned to that area for what he considered the perfect place to live. Two things he loved all his live were the farm and words.

Malabar Desk

Often Bromfield wrote at this desk while looking out the window at his farm.

It seemed he had trouble early in life finding that magical work that would please him. He went to agriculture college, studied journalism, served in the Army as an ambulance driver, journeyed through France and eventually came back to the United States to work at writing for several newspapers.

Malabar Gift Shop Books

The gift shop had a fantastic selection of Bromfield’s novels.

Following those experiences, Bromfield began writing novels, which won him high acclaim. His first book, Green Bay Tree, was a big success. His novels were always based on the people and places he knew well. He used a quilt pattern by taking one piece from here and another from there and fitting them all together. He turned his life into stories. All thirty novels were best sellers and several became motion pictures.

Malabar Pulitzer Book

His novel, Early Autumn, earned Bromfield the 1927 Pulitzer Prize.

His third novel, Early Autumn, won the 1927 Pulitzer Price for Novels. This financial success gave him opportunity to take his wife and three daughters to Paris for a few years and also visited India for a few months. How they all enjoyed life in Paris, but when threat of WWII was in the air, Bromfield brought his family back to the United States.

Malabar Portrait

This portrait of Bromfield and his wife, Mary, reminded them of their happy times in France.

In 1939, Bromfield settled back into his old hometown area of Pleasant Valley, where he purchased three farms, totaling one thousand acres. Since he enjoyed the Malabar coast of India, the farm was called Malabar, which means “gently rolling hills and valleys”.

Malabar Grand Piano

Bromfield’s daughter, Hope, played this piano for the wedding of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Starting with the original farmhouse, he added several additions for a total of 32 rooms, including nine bedrooms and ten bathrooms. This “Big House” became the perfect place to entertain his guests from Hollywood. If you came to visit, Bromfield insisted you help with farm work. That’s how Shirley Temple learned how to milk cows and Jimmy Cagney to run a vegetable stand.

Malabar Wedding 001

This sketch by Tom Bachelder captured Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall cutting their wedding cake after being married at Malabar Farm in 1945.

A close friend was Humphrey Bogart, who asked Bromfield if he could get married at Malabar. Arrangements were made for Bogart and Lauren Bacall to have their ceremony there with 700 guests attending.

Malabar Bromfield at desk

This old photo shows Bromfield at one of his desks, where he did some of his writing.

Every room of their house contains shelves of books, nearly 4,000 total. Bromfield is said to have only slept two or three hours a night so that gave him extra time to read and write novels. His daytime hours were most likely spent pursuing his interest in agriculture.

Malabar Louis and Prince

The painting shows Bromfield with his favorite Boxer, Prince.

Over seventy dogs lived at Malabar during Bromfield’s life there and eighty percent of them were boxers. His favorite boxer was Prince. There’s even a picture of a ghost boxer dog still hanging around.

Malabar Guide, Alana and Jeep

Our guide, Alana, tells about the restored Jeep that Bromfield used around the farm.

His ideas as a conservationist changed the face of agriculture in Ohio. He needed to enrich the worn-out soil so planted soybeans and plowed them under to add nitrogen to the soil. Hillsides were planted around in strips to avoid erosion, and he promoted the idea of rotation of crops. His decision to use the spreading multifloral rose as a fence still angers farmers today.

Malabar sign

Malabar Maple Syrup Cabin

Over 650 maple trees are being tapped along the road to Maple Syrup Cabin.

In 1972, the state of Ohio accepted the deed to Malabar Farm and pledged to uphold its beauty and preserve the ecological value of the farm. Everything inside remains as it was when the Bromfields lived there. Then in 1976, Malabar Farm became an Ohio State Park.

Malabar Restaurant

Built in 1820 from bricks made on site, the Schrack Place has become Malabar Restaurant.

There’s no charge to enjoy the trails with rocks and caves, and the tour of “Big House” is only $5. Check out their calendar at www.malabarfarm.org for many exciting activities. Don’t forget the educational Welcome Center.

Malabar Shawshank Trail

Follow the self-guided auto tour of authentic Hollywood sites from the Shawshank Redemption movie, which was filmed in part on Malabar Farm.

If you enjoy a country drive on scenic back roads, Malabar Farm might be the perfect place for an adventure. Perhaps we’ll come back for a ghost tour in the future.

Malabar Farm is located in Richland County about seven miles southeast of Mansfield. Their address is 4050 Bromfield Road, Lucas, Ohio. Using your GPS would be a great idea as there are many country roads to travel.


Cruisin’ down the Ohio River with Mark Twain on the Valley Gem

Valley Gem heads down the Muskingum River to its confluence the Ohio River.

Valley Gem heads down the Muskingum River to its confluence with the Ohio River.

Riverboat’s a comin’!

Nothing excited Samuel Clemens more than his time on the riverboats.  The sound of the paddlewheel hitting the water thrilled him, while the changing landscape gave him opportunity to see deer and even Injuns, while sitting in the pilot house.

Some say Clemens received his pen name, Mark Twain, from this passion for the river, since Mark Twain means “mark number two”. The second mark on the water measuring stick signified  twelve feet of water – a safe depth for boats to pass easily.

Breakfast Cruise on Valley Gem

Breakfast Cruise on Valley Gem

Spending time on the Valley Gem, with the charming impersonator of Mark Twain, delighted all passengers. They also enjoyed a tasty breakfast buffet as they cruised the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. Mark Twain, portrayed by Stephen Hollen, greeted everyone with a hearty welcome as they stepped aboard the Valley Gem at Marietta, Ohio.

Immediately his sense of humor became apparent as he strolled from table to table encouaging everyone to try the marinated road possum and grits. His enjoyment in that role quickly ignited the crowd into a happy mood.

View behind the paddle wheel

View behind the paddle wheel

The cruise was a smooth two hour ride up and down the river. Many enjoyed going to the top deck to get a better view and feel the breeze. The paddle wheel created quite a spray so those standing near it received a generous sprinkling. After some fresh air, passengers returned to the main cabin to listen to Mark Twain spin his yarns.

Twain then told of his being born in 1835 at Florida, Missouri – population 99. Growing up,  he was given a big spoon of cod liver oil every day. He remarked that his tongue and body were so slippery, he could have eaten broken glass and it would have passed.

Twain visited everyone.

Twain visited everyone.

At 13, Samuel Clemens became a printer’s apprentice and soon joined his brother Orion’s newspaper, where he discovered he enjoyed writing stories.

A few years later he headed to St. Louis, Missouri for another newspaper job but got sidetracked by falling in love …with the river.

For two years he served as an apprentice receiving $500 at the end of that period. Training was not as easy as it might sound. In order to get a license, pilots had to know the 2,000 miles of the Mississippi like the back of their hand. Even at nighttime, pilots were required to remember the placement of every sandbar and the name of every twist and turn, like Eagles Fork or Johnsons Landing. But Mark Twain said during those years, “I had the time of my life.”

After becoming a full-fledged riverboat pilot, he was paid $250 a month. The only other people in the United States at that time that made $250 a month, besides river pilots, were the vice-president of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Riverboat pilot was much more profitable than writing fiction!

When riverboat travel became impossible in 1861 due to the Civil War, Mark Twain returned to the world of the newspaper. His adventures led him across the United States from coast to coast as well as to Europe and the Middle East.

After his travels, he settled in Hartford, Conneticut with his wife and family in 1873. That is where he wrote stories based on his memories of growing up in Hannibal, and enjoying the Mississippi River. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn came to life through his pen.

Mark Twain says thanks to each passenger as they leave.

Mark Twain says thanks to each passenger as they leave.

The journey was closed with Mark Twain telling his favorite story, “Golden Arm”. It was the story of a rich family from Hannibal, who always came to the landing to see the riverboats arrive and hear the calliope. Mark Twain even sang a Riverboat Song and had the audience join in on the chorus:

Down the river, Down the river, Oh down the O-hi-o.

I’ll not tell the story though, perhaps the next time he visits Marietta you will get a chance to hear more of his delightful tales.

Later in life Mark Twain uttered this comment: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ ”  And Mark Twain was not disappointed.

The Valley Gem is located next door to the Ohio River Museum at 601 Front Street, Marietta, Ohio, one block from Ohio State Route 7, and minutes from I-77.

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