He’s Alive! Alive!

alive headline

March 1, 1922

Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.           W. Somerset Maugham

karloff

No, the title of this tale doesn’t refer to the 1931 film version of Frankenstein; but rather to the experiences of Harold E. Roy, DDS of New York.

Dr. Roy had been canoeing in the Hudson River during March of 1921, when he mysteriously disappeared.canoes  Broken bits of his canoe had been recovered, but there was no sign of the dentist, and it was assumed that he had drowned. Mrs. Roy struggled to adjust to the loss of her husband, but the grieving widow found it impossible to continue living in New York – reminders of her husband were simply too painful, so she moved out to Los Angeles to stay with relatives.

Nearly a full year passed when suddenly Dr. Harold Roy, the man whom everyone thought was dead, was miraculously reborn in Kansas City. It was as if a cloud had lifted – he remembered who he was, but had no idea where he was, what he’d been doing, or how much time had elapsed. He looked down at his clothes and found himself in rough workingman’s attire.  He emptied his pockets and discovered some Canadian money.  When he finally looked at a calendar, he saw that he’d lost an entire year of his life!

mark twainThen came the biggest shock of all – he found that he’d been reported dead!  The same thing had happened to Mark Twain in 1897 when it was erroneously reported that he had succumbed to an illness in London. Twain wrote to a friend and told him that: “…the report of my death was an exaggeration.”  

Dr. Roy wrote to the Swathmore Alumni Association President, David Dwight Rowlands of Sheboygan, Wisconsin and said:  “Dear Dave: Sit down here before I knock you down with the news I am writing you. This is neither a ghost, nor story writing, but my own hand; just me – Harold E. Roy, Swarthmore, ’09."

The dentist had a fairly recent scar on his head, and pain in his right temple, but otherwise seemed to be none the worse for whatever he’d gone through in the year that he’d spent as a dead man. Roy went on to tell his friend Dave that since he had regained his senses and returned to life, he had telegraphed relatives and located his wife at her new home at 317 South Olive Street in Los Angeles. Dr. and Mrs. Roy had been reunited, and the couple was happy to be together again.

However, while Dr. Roy was speedily recovering from his ordeal, poor Mrs. Roy found it difficult to adjust tovillagers her spouse’s unprecedented resurrection. Perhaps it was the strain of being constantly on the lookout for torch-wielding villagers.