November 4, 2012 in City

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

By Correspondent

From our archives, 100 years ago

F.G. Ellis, a former streetcar conductor, jumped into the Spokane River from the Great Northern bridge span, in an attempt to commit suicide.

A Spokesman-Review story found it to be a surprisingly amusing event, as did a large crowd gathered at the riverbank. Apparently, Ellis changed his mind the moment his body hit the frigid water.

“First, the would-be suicide gave the famed ‘Caville crawl,’ according to spectators; then he did the Galveston lope, hand over hand,” said the story. “His next feat is described as the whirligig dive. Coming up, Ellis spouted water like a true amphibian.”

At this point, police Officer Dan Phelan showed up at the dead run with a “hook-ornamented pole” kept for exactly this kind of situation.

Phelan fished Ellis out of the water and rushed him to the hospital.

Ellis said his suicide attempt was inspired by his “disgust at his inclination to imbibe intoxicants with too great freedom and frequency.” He vowed never to attempt suicide again.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1862: Inventor Richard J. Gatling received a U.S. patent for his rapid-fire Gatling gun. … 1952: Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president, defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson. The highly secretive National Security Agency came into existence.

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