On the way to the village this morning I drove up behind a 1950 Chevrolet panel delivery truck. It was exactly like the one I lived in for three years except it wasn’t fire-engine red. As I drove along the narrow road that truck brought back a lot of memories.
In March of 1951, I was cooking dinner in my truck, after I had filmed in Sun Valley, Idaho for the first time. I was lucky because during the Harriman Cup races I had been able to show my first feature length film “Deep and Light” in the Sun Valley Opera House and earned almost $200 in the process with tickets selling for $1 each. I had filmed the Harriman Cup races and even talked Hannes Schneider into making a few turns for my then one-year-old film company. The pressure cooker was hissing on my Coleman stove in the back of my truck when I heard a lot of screaming and shouting. Annie, the pet antelope that ate every cigarette butt she could find, was running our way. As she was trying to round the corner to get away from everyone she did a back flip.
She ran into me, knocked the wind out of me and by the time I could talk, my volunteer employees were holding the antelope on the ground while she bled all over their clothes.
Annie, the cigarette-butt-eating antelope had ran into the bumper of my truck and had a nasty gash in her shoulder. She also had grease covering her body while we tried to get her out from under the truck.
Blood was pouring out of the wound and we couldn’t figure out where to apply a tourniquet to her shoulder without putting it around her neck and suffocating her.
Since my volunteers were already fairly bloody, an older kid held his hand over the wound and tried to keep it closed while I took my long tongs off of a ski and tied the antelope’s legs together. Next I wrestled her into my arms and headed for the hospital on the third floor of the lodge to try and get one of the doctors to sew her up. Dr. Moritz was in surgery and the nurse on duty refused to conduct an emergency repair job. She was a nurse I had known from the many evenings when I had painted murals on casts and was nice enough to sneak some stitching materials into my pocket. She drew a diagram of just where and how to start sewing on Annie’s shoulder and how to tie the right kind of a knot and sent us on our way. We staggered back down the hall but this time rode down in the passenger elevator.
The lodge guests in the lobby were very surprised as I walked out of the elevator carrying an antelope dripping blood. Outside the trail of blood led from the lodge front door to my truck. There we laid the wounded antelope down in front of my truck’s headlights and sewed up the wounded shoulder to the best of our ability. By now the thermometer had dropped to about 4 degrees above zero and my fingers were getting very stiff as I tried several times to duplicate the knot the nurse had shown me. Before my fingers froze, I stood up on the icy parking lot and stretched my bones as I untied Annie’s legs. She lay there gasping her cigarette butt breath for a few minutes, struggled to her feet and slowly staggered off into the darkness.
The following summer she was found dead near Dollar Lake with no gun shot wounds or apparent cause of death. A ski patrolman, who was working part time with the local veterinarian as his assistant, performed an autopsy and declared that Annie, the cigarette-butt-eating-antelope, had died of cancer of the stomach from eating too many cigarette butts.
Maybe it was the cigarette butts that killed her, but he did report that she had a shoulder wound that had been sewed up. I do know that in 1951 there were a lot of cigarette smokers dropping butts everywhere, to her unfortunate demise.
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