Life and Death Drama Plays Out Over Phone

Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 11:51

We old timers like to reminisce about the “good old days.” But honestly, a lot of things in those days weren’t so good. The story that follows demonstrates that. It was printed in the Knik Arm Courier on Nov. 22, 1961:


Death was the ultimate victor in a real life drama that was played over a party line here last Thursday.

When Mrs. Shirley Thomas of Eagle River went to use her phone, she discovered that someone on her party line had the phone off the hook.

Mrs. Thomas said that she could hear what sounded like labored breathing and asked if someone was using the phone. She then heard incoherent mumbling and could make out the words about a heart. When she asked the person what his name was she was able to understand the name “Erickson”.

A check in the phone book informed her that there was a Harold V. Erickson on her party line. Mrs. Thomas pleaded with Mr. Erickson to hang up the phone and she would attempt to call for help, but he appeared to be unable to do that.

Mrs. Thomas then attempted to dial “O” for operator, but with Eriskson’s phone off the hook, she was unable to get through. She then hit upon the idea of dialing “110” for long distance and was able to reach the long distance operator. She then explained that there was an emergency and asked the operator to connect her with her daughter who lives in Peters Creek. When Mrs. Thomas was connected with her daughter she told her the situation, and the daughter, Mrs. Ray Michlig, immediately informed Dr. Marshall Simpson.

Dr. Simpson rushed to the Erickson home and after administering emergency treatment, transported Erickson to the Providence Hospital. Erickson, however, had suffered a fatal stroke, and died at the hospital later that evening.

Erickson’s wife, Dorothy, is a teacher at the Eagle River School. The funeral will be held in Superior, Wisconsin, where Mrs. Erickson has relatives.


This column is provided by the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. Reach them at [email protected] or by calling 688-4706.

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