Hunter S. Thompson's widow returns antlers he stole from Hemingway in 1964
For years, Hunter S. Thompson had been sitting on a shameful secret. He had in his possession a pair of massive elk antlers that belonged to Ernest Hemingway — antlers that Thompson brazenly stole from Hemingway's Ketchum, Idaho home in 1964.
Thompson had long felt a deep connection to Hemingway, and he would end up becoming a large influence in his written work. It was in 1964 that Thompson decided to drive out to Ketchum, Idaho, to visit the house where Hemingway had lived and died. Hemingway committed suicide there in 1961.
Thompson was also there to write a story for the National Observer about Hemingway's legacy in Idaho. And when Thompson got to the home, it was empty. As he was leaving, he noticed a massive pair of elk antlers hanging above the doorway — and stole them.
"[Hunter] made such a long journey to go and visit, and he just couldn't help himself. And he was much younger then, and not as wise." Thompson's widow, Anita Thompson, tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch.
"When he would talk about it, he was embarrassed. Because Hunter is not a thief — he's just so caught up in the moment. We planned to take a road trip several times in 2003 and just quietly return them, but we never did," she says.
Unfortunately, the Gonzo journalist would never get around to making that trip to Idaho. On Feb. 20, 2005, Thompson — like Hemingway before him — shot himself.
Years later, Anita Thompson came across the dusty antlers in the garage. And she decided that enough was enough: She knew she needed to return them.
"The antlers were hanging above the 1972 red Chevy Caprice, so they're a beautiful compliment to the car — except they weren't Hunter's, so we had to return them."
She got in touch with the local library that managed the Hemingway House in Ketchum, as well as Sean Hemingway, the author's grandson, who was "so gracious, and pleased to have them back."
The plan was to drive the antlers up to the Hemingway House in Ketchum. But getting them there was a feat in itself.
"I had to return them to the home in my Prius. They fit in the back with the seats down. Putting them into the car, they were almost the same weight as I am," she says.
The antlers are now in the process of being delivered to the Hemingway family in New Jersey.
For more on the strange story of Hemingway's antlers, listen to our full interview with Anita Thompson.