Anita Thompson, widow of the late writer and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, has returned a set of mounted elk antlers her late husband stole from the home of Ernest Hemingway in 1964.
The young Thompson visited the remote Idaho hermitage to which Hemingway withdrew in the final years of his life to pen an elegy and armchair psychological analysis of the author’s decline, when the mystique of the stirring, hard-drinking, machismo receded after a decade of bad writing and heroic quantities of booze. The essay, “What Lured Hemingway To Ketchum?” later appeared in the first volume of Thompson’s papers, “The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time.”
Always one to appreciate the finer points of bad behavior, Thompson made off with the antlers during his visit, which were mounted above the entrance to the mountainside chalet. He later hung them in the garage of his Woody Creek, Colo., homestead Owl Farm, equal parts literary forum and demolition doomscape.
“He got caught up in the moment,” Anita told Brandon Wenerd of BroBible. “He had so much respect for Hemingway. He was actually very embarrassed by it.”
Anita had long considered quietly returning the set — she loaded the mount into her Toyota Prius in early August and drove it to the Hemingway home in Ketchum, Idaho, which is now administered by the Nature Conservancy.
“They were warm and kind of tickled, they were so open and grateful, there was no weirdness,” she said. “Still, it’s something that was stolen from the home. They were grateful to have them back. They had heard rumors.”
Anita also conveyed that the incident inspired an uncharacteristic bout of guilt in her husband, which grew as time passed. He was later inspired to post an admonition to his front door defending the integrity of his cabin.
“Please don’t steal from this home, by the management,” it read.
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