Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

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Back Into the Woods – Podcast #201

Link to my original telling of this story: Lost in the Mountains – Pamela Hollingworth – Podcast #155

Please note that the text below is an automated transcription. As a result, it may contain errors.

00:00:00 Steve Silverman

I’m often asked what my favorite stories among all those have ever told, and the truth is, I really don’t have a particular favorite.  But if I had to name one of my top ten, the story Lost in the Mountains, which was podcast #155. I recorded that about two years ago. That would definitely rank up there.

Now, if you’re not familiar with that story, let me just tell you it’s the incredible true story of five-year-old Pamela Hollingworth, who got lost in the heavily wooded White Mountains of New Hampshire back in September of 1941. When she got lost, she was totally unprepared for what she was about to face.

It would get below freezing each night. It rained almost every single day, and all she had on were corduroy bib overalls, sneakers, and socks. That’s it.

In what would be the largest search and rescue mission ever up until that point in the state of New Hampshire, thousands of volunteers scoured the mountainous area in search of her. And with each passing day, the chance of her being found alive seemed to diminish greatly. In fact, most of the experts concluded that she could not have survived.

Yet miraculously, Pam would be found alive after eight days in the wilderness, and she had lost a significant amount of weight, she had extremely frostbitten feet, yet she would make a full and complete recovery.

Now I should tell you that I wrote that story while my wife and I were vacationing in a cabin about 20 minutes outside of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. As a result, the Internet, it was incredibly spotty and I was only able to stay online for minutes at a time. And I had already determined that Pam and her parents had passed on, but I was unable in my brief spurts of Internet access to determine what happened to her brother, Ted, who happened to be 9 years old when the incident took place.

Well, to my surprise, this past Valentine’s Day I received an e-mail from Ted’s daughter, Tori, and she told me that her father was indeed alive and well. And within minutes she had put me in touch with him.

So, as a special treat, I thought it’d be interesting to have Ted not only tell his version of the story, but also to come on and let you know what happened to Pam after this incredible story faded from the headlines.

So, without further ado, let’s take a listen to my interview with Ted Hollingworth as he takes us back into the woods.

I am Steve Silverman, and this is the Useless Information Podcast.

00:02:42 Steve Silverman

So, Ted, thanks for joining me today. I thought we’d start by you just telling a little about yourself to my audience.

00:02:48 Ted Hollingworth

OK, well, I started life working with my father in the construction industry, so I became a field engineer after I was graduated from Dartmouth College, and I went in the military for my 6-year obligation. And I was in the 351st Missile Battalion, it’s just part of the Cold War. Stationed in Cleveland and then began, because of my experiences in the military, I became a public speaker for my battalion in the Cleveland and that area on North American defense.

I began to get a taste for teaching, so when I went back to civilian life, my father suddenly died. My life changed, so to make a long story short, I decided to go back to Boston and go to graduate school. It was a toss-up between Harvard and a PhD in history, or a place called Emerson College and a Master’s degree in communication.

After about a 30-minute meeting with the chair of the Emerson department, I said, this is it. This is the guy. This is my thesis. Let’s go. So, I stayed with Emerson, 54 years, teaching a wide variety of courses and starting the internship programs. And I think probably the country.

And then I was teaching a lot of other places, too, and Harvard picked me up and in the extension school to teach a course in management, a new program, kind of an MBA program. And I taught there 36 years and worked with a lot of other colleges, and then was recruited by the Mitre Corporation, which is a think tank that will spin off of MIT. It’s like Rand on the West Coast. It’s a brain factory, it’s 700 MIT grads, and so forth. And stayed there for about 45 years. Nineteen of those years, I worked every summer full-time and then part-time during the academic year and so forth. But I did stay doing training for them after that and then focus on Harvard and so forth.

I used to travel about 60,000 miles a year. And I had a top-secret clearance, which was great because I got to work for 17 years with the man who broke all the Nazi codes in World War Two at Bletchley Park, Gordon Welchman, and we became extremely close friends, up until he died.

And so I’ve been very fortunate.  I’ve had a lot of really amazing things happen to me. I didn’t create them. I just happened to be there at the right time.

Ted Hollingworth and his daughter’s cat Coco watching a wood-burning fireplace fire in 2023.

00:05:32 Steve Silverman

Of course, we had spoken before and you’re just giving a very brief overview of what you’ve done. It’s just an incredible resume that you have. But of course, the real reason we’re here today is because your daughter contacted me, your daughter, Tori. She contacted me. I actually checked this this morning. She contacted me on Valentine’s Day and mentioned that I should get in touch with you to talk a little bit about your sister’s story.

And I recorded this podcast, I guess a little bit, probably about two years ago now. And it is one of the most popular stories I’ve done in recent years. So, I’m just so happy you’ve come on to kind of tell your version of the story.

00:06:11 Ted Hollingworth

Well, it’s a great it’s a great story, Steve, in itself. And I just happened to be the guy who was there and probably know more about it. Now I think all the rest of them are deceased, but it’s a staggering story and I’m always happy to talk about it because of the story that it is, and I think when you hear it in a more detailed way, you’ll realize why I feel that way.

00:06:35 Steve Silverman

Of course, everything I did was from the reporters, from newspaper accounts. So, you know, you have a real insight into it. The newspapers like to put a spin on things if they can. So, I hope I was fairly accurate in what I wrote. But I’m curious to see if there are mistakes that I made or really to see what you can add to this. Yeah, because you know so much more than I could get from those print resources. So anyway, so why don’t we start? I guess we should just set the scenario. This is September 28th of 1941, just a few months before Pearl Harbor is bombed. So why don’t you take it from there?

00:07:14 Ted Hollingworth

First of all, it was very dry at that particular time in New Hampshire and in New England in general. And my father, my mother, my grandfather on my father’s side, my grandmother on my mother’s side, and my sister and I, we got into the family Chevy to take a drive up to the White Mountains to have a cookout.

And the White Lakes area, as we got up there, because it was so dry, there was a fire hazard. So, all of the public parks and all of the woods, you know access to the woods and everything, they were, you know, verboten. You could not use any of them. They were blocked off. So, we kept on going and we came to a place called White Ledge camping picnicking area in Albany, New Hampshire, which is at the base of Middle Sister Mountain, which led to Mount Chocorua.  So, it’s right in that North Conway area, but there’s a brook running down beside it and the sign saying you can camp here, which meant you could have a fire, you could cook your meal.

So, we pulled in there and it was a small park, I would say probably a maximum of maybe 35 other people there, and so forth.  Some camping, some just stopping for a moment as we were there.

00:08:40 Steve Silverman


00:08:40 Ted Hollingworth

Now you have to remember also another variable here which is Pam and I lived in a very small country town called Dunstable, Massachusetts, with about 350 people. And our nearest neighbor was about 1/4 of a mile away. So we were, we were kids raised in the country.

00:09:02 Steve Silverman

Why don’t you quickly throw in, you know, cause people listen from all over the world. Why don’t you say how far it is from Boston or something like that?

00:09:09 Ted Hollingworth

It’s probably about 30 miles outside of Boston, maybe 35, 40. Just below Nashua, New Hampshire. It was a very big town years ago, but New Hampshire kept splitting it up into different smaller towns. But again, about 350 people, our nearest neighbor, about 1/4 of a mile away. Which means we were alone as children, so we were used to being alone, used to taking care of ourselves. Very well trained by our parents about how to deal with water, how to swim. You know, how to find your way home. All of these kinds of things. So that I think was a very important variable as far as Pam’s attitude when she was lost.

And we were at this picnic place and there was a brook running right next to this called Hobbs Brook, which was draining Middle Sister Mountain up there at the time.

Now at this time, Pam had a little fancy bottle that she wanted to fill with water. So, I went down to the brook where she wanted to fill it. And, you know, she was very independent, very strong-minded and she said she wanted to fill it, so she needed to walk up the book a little bit. And we weren’t afraid of it. The brook was very mild, very easy. And I said okay, you can see our car up here, you can see it. It’s on the ridge. I said that’s where you go because I’m going to go back. This is not unusual. She’d leave me when I’m down the brook. You know back home or whatever.

And so I went back and everybody was quiet. It was around noon time. They were napping or reading, and so on. My mother and father were voracious readers. So, I sat down to read something and suddenly my father looked up and he said, “Where’s your sister?” And I said, “Well, she’s just down at the brook. She’s just filling the bottle there.” “Don’t you go right down and get her.”

So I went down. I looked for her. She was gone. So, I came back, I said, “She’s gone, dad.”

And what was amazing, within 10 minutes there were ten people looking for her. Within 30 minutes there were 35 people looking for her. Everybody in that little campground was looking for her.

Within 30 minutes, my father called the sheriff, the local sheriff, Taylor, and he called the Forest Service. He called the Selectmen in North Conway. They called the fire department. They ring the fire alarms, you know, to call everybody, to look. And within a matter of minutes, there were probably that evening a total of at least fifty people looking for.

00:11:46 Steve Silverman

Obviously, this is the days before cell phones. So, where was the nearest phone for your dad to call?

00:11:52 Ted Hollingworth

It’s about 7 miles up the road.

00:11:54 Steve Silverman


00:11:56 Ted Hollingworth

And there was an old building there, kind of musty, and it became kind of a rallying point. They ended up moving that to the town hall in Albany because it became a very big operation, a huge operation.

00:12:11 Steve Silverman

And I guess we should mention that you were nine years old and your sister Pam was five.

00:12:16 Ted Hollingworth

I was nine years old. She was five. We both turned our ages that June. And again, as I say, and it’s very important, both very secure in the woods. Not afraid of anything. So, it wasn’t a fear thing. There was never any fear thing at all.

Eventually, there were two governors involved, Governor Blood of New Hampshire and Governor Saltonstall of Massachusetts. Edith Nourse Rogers, who is our representative from my district back in Massachusetts, was fabulous. She came up several times. She donated to the reward, and she called in everybody. She called Basil O’Connor in Washington, who was the head of the Red Cross at the time, and he took all of his staff from Massachusetts and New Hampshire and sent them there and so forth. But there were sheriffs, CCC, fire departments, thousands from Lowell as volunteers, plus local volunteers, Army men at the time, enlisted men, the Red Cross. A pilot named Wiley Epp who had his own airplane, who volunteered to fly over, and so forth.

And one of the individuals who was a volunteer, his name was Clyde Stimpson. And he said I have a phone. It’s about 7 miles from here. And what are your wife and you going to do tonight? And he said, well, we don’t know. He said, well, come, come with me. And so he housed my mother and father and then me for a while, for two weeks. And one morning when it was very frosty, my father got up early. He looked out the bathroom window and he was on the top of my father’s car, wiping the frost off so he wouldn’t feel bad.

But the kind of backing that we got at the time. And just give an idea. There were army kitchens there. There were Red Cross canteens, there were local fire department kitchens. Ladies’ Auxiliary kitchens, the CCC kitchens. And so forth just to feed the people.

The Red Cross in one day doled out 5,000 cups of coffee. As this thing really began to grow and grow. And the military was there, and they brought in all kinds of things. They have miners’ lamps, they brought in the big spotlights. They were 500,000 candle power, so they could put them on at night, so the searchers could find their way back.

They also brought in a speaking truck, you know, the loudspeaker trucks. And my mother and my father could drive through. They drove the trucks calling out, you know, “Pammie, this is dad, you know, if you’re here to hear people around you go to them,” and so forth. I guess it was heart-wrenching for anybody who just listened to the voice. You know he spoke so much he could hardly speak.

00:15:15 Steve Silverman

So where were you while this is going on?

00:15:18 Ted Hollingworth

Now that’s an interesting point because there was a volunteer, we didn’t even know who he was, at that first night, and he volunteered to drive my grandparents and me back to Massachusetts. And he did. He dropped off my grandfather in Lowell. He dropped off my grandmother and me in Dunstable. I actually went back to school. At the time, right, it was a three-room schoolhouse. You wait for the bus, you know, and go up and so forth.

00:15:47 Steve Silverman

And when you went back to school, was everyone aware of what had happened?

00:15:51 Ted Hollingworth

They were aware of it. They had no idea, as we did not, that it was going to become such a big deal.

00:15:57 Steve Silverman


00:15:58 Ted Hollingworth

And so I think what the most fascinating thing to me was the number of people that responded and so forth, and all of the things that they did.

Now what I’d like to do is kind of read a little bit to you, if you don’t mind, because I have a lot of this stuff written out.

00:16:19 Steve Silverman

Sure, we’d love it.

00:16:21 Ted Hollingworth

And it talks about, you know, the people coming in and the CCC and they were setting up. They’ve set up tents. They put up a tent city. You know and the whole area there where she was lost, like that little park, became a living, breathing city. They had police officers to screen the people coming in. They had somebody assigned to the one spigot of water there to make sure they didn’t get it contaminated and so forth. And this just kept growing and growing and became again a bigger and bigger city.

It rained almost every single day. And they would get dozens and dozens of false leads. You know, for example, somebody said, you know, there’s an ex-con up here, and he’s known for molesting children. And I saw him in the area. While the police would go. Massachusetts police and New Hampshire. They finally caught the guy, actually, in the streets of Boston. And he had a perfectly good alibi.

But then they found another guy up here. He’s walking around and he’s a former con, so the police brought him in and so forth. And then people would come in and contact and say I saw a little girl down by the side of the road the other evening playing and so forth. Well, they moved the whole search over there. And they kept getting these leads that were wrong and they were taking all of the, a lot of the searching to across the street. And my mother and father both insisted I know Pam. They said she would look for help if she got to the road. So, she didn’t just cross the street. So forth.

But they had the army in there and the sheriffs and everything. They had the right to search every house within 4 miles. And they had airplanes going up above and anything that wasn’t recorded, they’d go in. And the military would go in. They’d have guns, loaded guns, and they would go into these abandoned places and dig everything up, and so forth. And they would send a mile of men through the woods, lined up on the side of the road at fingertip length. And go right up straight through the woods, so forth.

But they had again all kinds of misleads. There was one other woman who gave them a lead and so forth. And she they said, OK, we’ll meet you in the in the hotel, in the center of town. Little did she know, but every single man in that room was an undercover policeman. But it proved out she was wrong, so forth.

But people would come and volunteer, you know, a couple of guys came in and said we have a blind greyhound. It can find anything. Of course, they were inebriated, so they kind of gave them a map and said go ahead. Hours later, they said they went down the road, smoke coming out from under the dog. Where they were dragging your dog along and they were 7 miles in the wrong direction.

But they did have some funny things happen. They had people up as high as 67 to 72 years of age looking. There was a guy named Fox.  Albert Fox from Dracut, Mass. He was a farmer. He’s 67. And then there was another guy. There was a Boy Scout. He was 15 years old.

And there was one guy that I think he was a Boy Scout and he cut his knee, you know, chopping through the underbrush. The underbrush was so thick you couldn’t get through it. They were finding traps that had been there for 100 years. From the, even the trappers lost them up there. And the people who lived on the other side of this territory, they covered about 10,000 acres of land. They said there are animals running through their yards because there was so much activity on that mountain.

You know, these kinds of things were happening all the time. One guy I know had a heart attack and he came from Lowell. I think my father took care of him until he died because I remember going to the tenements, which my father did on holidays, and bringing armloads of groceries and so forth, and going into this guy’s apartment. And seeing the two little girls sitting at the table having a cupcake for Christmas and so forth, and my father would leave stuff.

Eventually. We did get over 5000 letters. And it took my mother and her two sisters and her best friend over a year-and-a-half to answer those because they answered a lot of the letters, There were 5000 letters, but the 350 packages with books and dolls and cutouts, everything else, which my mother and father donated completely to the orphanages and all.

But I think probably what we should get into this is what happened the final day.

00:21:21 Steve Silverman

So why don’t you say how many days have gone by. We should also mention that it was below freezing multiple nights and raining.

00:21:29 Ted Hollingworth

Yes, as I said, she had bib overalls on, corduroy. She had sandals with a strap across and socks, two blue ribbons in her hair. Period. It went down to 21 degrees. [-6.1º C] That’s not a frost. That’s freezing.

00:21:48 Steve Silverman

Sure, a deep freeze.

00:21:49 Ted Hollingworth

The first night out it got very cold. The second night out it went to 21 degrees and that’s when everybody who knew the woods began to panic because they said the way she’s dressed she could never survive. And what she did, by the way, in retrospect, she would cover herself with leaves at night. And then she would — because she couldn’t walk after probably the second night, as her feet froze.

And when they found her, I can go through that in a little more detail here. Okay?

00:22:23 Steve Silverman

Sure, whatever direction you want to take it is fine.

00:22:25 Ted Hollingworth

Okay. Well again, remember, it rained, you know, almost every day. And you had these dozens and dozens of organizations, and eventually, the estimate was about 6000 people got involved in this search. And the last weekend, they knew they were going to get a huge influx of people. So, I’m going to read to you that final Monday.

Monday, 6 October 1941, broke as a clear and mild day. At daybreak, the New Hampshire State game warden, Slim Baker, Major Franklin Spencer, Mr. Sanborn, Mr. Hollingworth, and two other searchers went straight to the spot where the footprints were found. The day before they found her footprints, which was the first indication that she even was in the woods. This was the first tangible evidence to date that she was or had been in the woods at all.

The ground was frozen. Slim Baker and Mr. Hollingworth crawled in on their hands and knees and lifted each twig off the prints, one at a time. Mr. Baker examined the prints very carefully, then told the size of the shoe and the weight of the child. He even estimated the height of the child because the prints led directly into a nearby tree with broken branches, which the person had evidently run into during the night. Later it was found that this was the only time she had moved after dark.

The entire remaining crew of close to 500 men could now be directed into that general area. The searches were back and forth through the footprint area with amazing speed and efficiency despite extremely tough going. The under-footing was very poor and even treacherous due to the many days of heavy rain.

But the early morning optimism wore slowly off as the search seemed to settle down into the same old routine, with no more clues to inspire.

As each crew reported in after covering their assignment, they were immediately sent again in the hope of covering all the ground possible before nightfall. Soon the Sun began to sink lower and lower, and as the late afternoon shadows reflected on the faces of every man, some gathered about in small groups as they returned to discuss whether or not they should advise Mr. Hollingworth to stop driving himself to death, but the large majority had decided to remain as long as they possibly could.

The CCC boys were starting to put wooden floors in their tents in the case they had to remain far into the cold weather. The Forest Service personnel, the conservation officers, and some civil authorities had come to the unanimous decision that they would stick with Joe to the end no matter what. In fact, they all arranged to use up all their vacation time, sick leave, and holidays put together if ordered off the job. And if that didn’t prove to be enough, those that did not have families decided to quit their jobs if necessary.

How can you lose with, you know, morale like that?

Meanwhile, far up Middle Sister Mountain, about 2-1/2 miles [4.02 km] from camp, a group of 85 men were then heading back towards camp. This group of CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] enrollees were under the direct supervision of District Ranger Charles Mead, and Forest Guard Will Randall, Howard Ritter, Wilbur Thompson, TJ Rumazzo, and William Matson.

The group was following along a trail parallel to Hobbs Brook. The boys were shouting the child’s name, talking, and generally making quite a bit of noise. Ranger Mead blew his whistle, stopped the group, and stated that if the child was alive, she might yell, but they would not be able to hear her. He then asked to have one minute of silence. Quiet reigned for about 15 seconds, and then they suddenly heard, “Whoo, whoo.”

Everyone went almost berserk as they tore into the bushes. Matson and Rumazzo, after about a 5-minute frantic search, ran down to the bank of the stream. There, on the opposite side on her hands and knees, getting ready to crawl through the water towards the sounds, was what they’d been searching for over the past eight days and nights.

The time was exactly 5:05 PM on October 6, 1941.

One of the men asked her who she was, to which she responded, “Pammie.”

“And what’s your daddy’s name?”

“Joe. And I’ve been lost since Sunday.”

Now, immediately, when they radioed that back to the base camp, the whole place is thrown into pandemonium. As soon as the announcement came over the loudspeaker system, everybody yelled and shouted and whistled and shook hands and cried and prayed and hugged each other.

There were now just two big questions: How was she and where was Mr. Hollingworth?

Mr. Hollingworth was off in the woods with another search unit when the news hit the base camp. Robert Toulouse, the Forest Service radio dispatcher, radioed quickly to the unit, “Calling Joe E.H. Is Joe, E.H. with you?”


“Get this clear. Return to camp. We have good news.”

Mr. Hollingworth darted so quickly down the trail that no one in the group could even come close to keeping up with him. And yet he did not know whether she was hurt badly or not. In fact, no one in the base had any idea.

When he arrived at the camp, Major Spencer had a command car and driver all ready to pull out. Major Spencer, Mr.Hollingworth, and the driver tore down the road and right up the Middle Sister Trail with a 4-wheel drive pulling the extremely maneuverable vehicle.

They passed scores of cheering men who stepped off the trail to let the car pass. Within 10 or 15 minutes, they reached the rescue crew, and Mr. Hollingworth jumped out, picked up his little girl from a makeshift stretcher that the boys had made from birch trees and their jackets.

“Hi, Pam.”

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Were you scared?”

And she said, “No. I knew you’d find me, Daddy.”

With that answer, Mr. Hollingworth lost all the horror of the entire event. And then it went into a pandemonium with celebrations.

00:28:52 Steve Silverman

I can imagine.

00:28:53 Ted Hollingworth

And my father insisted on having everybody lined up and shaking their hand personally. And he got together with all the Lowell volunteers and said now all of you got to stay sober because this is going to be wild here tonight. They had a lot of, you know, celebration and so forth.

And the next day it was all silent. They were very silent. They just quietly kind of folded their tents and they said — the word at the time was they figured they’d experienced a miracle, and so forth.

But back in the Memorial Hospital, the news was released to her condition. She had two frozen feet, a frostbitten nose, scurvy around the mouth, and had dropped from 45 to 28 pounds. [20.4 to 12.7 kg]

She refused to let her mother leave her side and insisted on having a light of some kind burning in the room at all times. In her sleep, she would wave her hands over her head as if pushing branches from her path.

The doctors agreed to wait 24 hours to determine if her left foot had any life left in it. When Pam was found, her sneakers had to be cut off because both feet had swollen so badly. Her right foot was a puffed-up mass of brown flesh, with some blisters measuring an inch high [2.54 cm]and an inch and a half [3.81 cm] across in diameter. The toes could not be distinguished on either foot. The left foot was swollen, even larger than the right, and it was a very dark, almost black color. Fortunately, after the 24 hours were up, Pam could “wiggle her toes for her daddy.” This proved that there was enough life left in both feet to eliminate the chance of amputation.

And after that, another few, you know, scratches and scars. She was in remarkable, good physical condition and in high spirits.

She wanted an ice cream soda, and you know, and scrambled eggs because she couldn’t give her anything of broth for quite a while.

00:30:59 Steve Silverman

Were you there at that point or was it still a few days before you got there?

00:31:02 Ted Hollingworth

Yes, I was. I was shipped back immediately. So, I was with my father all the time at the end, For example, we were on the stint at the Stimson’s House one night and the whole front yard was full of reporters. And they said they demanded that they get a chance to take her, take pictures, and they also demanded that they get to interview her.

And my father said absolutely not. And they said, well, okay, we’re going to claim this was a hoax. And you did it so you could make money. And they had letters from different people saying that probably is what happened. She couldn’t have lived.

Well, he had letters also from the commanding officer and from the hospital and everything else. So, he said I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You will select one person to take a picture, one person to take a picture. No interviews and I’ll meet with you twice a day, indefinitely at the hotel for briefings. Which he did, and they let this one guy in. I even remember his name and he took that famous picture of her in the bed. And so on.

And my mother, you know, my father called my mother immediately when he got back to base camp. She was back in Lowell, Massachusetts. She was so struck by the news she handed the phone to my aunt to verify it.

So, a friend called the Lowell police. The Lowell police came over and gave them an escort out of the city, and then telegraphed all the way up to North Conway that she’s coming. So, every town, the police wave them through. So, they went out, state police and everything they brought them through and so forth.

But, interesting thing. After that a lot of a lot of things began to happen.

You know, for example, my father was approached by people in Hollywood, Shirley Temple, so forth, to make Pamela books and cutouts and all these kinds of things.

You know, this was during the Depression.

Remember that that money was a big deal at that time.

I think the reward got up to like $2,500 [approximately $51,000 today], which was probably a year’s pay for most of the people who were out looking.

And so my father had all this, you know, inundation of offers, so he went to my mother and he said, “I had all these offers, you know, we can make a lot of money.” And she said, “What did we pray for?” And he said, “To get her back alive.” And she said, “Well, what did we get?” And he said, “Just that.”

And he went out and turned it all down. They never got a dime out of the whole thing. They never got paid for anything. They couldn’t have it. Anyway. That, you know, kind of ended that.

And actually, in my mind, I think really the most — Of course, Pam was the key person in this, and that was. That’s the big deal.

But my father, in looking back, was unbelievable in his commitment and leadership. And getting these people committed to where they were putting, you know, giving up their jobs and putting, you know, fireplaces, not fireplaces, stoves in the tents. They were staying. They were going to stay with her.

But regardless and so forth. It was that was amazing.

Another very key person was Edith Nourse Rogers.

She read it into the Congressional Record, of course, and so forth. And it was considered, then, certainly in the history of New Hampshire, the most amazing search with the outcome in the history, probably one of the most. Because a lot of these end up, you know, they find the person, but usually they’re deceased. This kind of thing.

00:34:59 Steve Silverman

Do you think there was any discussion among your parents that maybe she didn’t survive?

00:35:03 Ted Hollingworth

No, they were very open with me. We’d had — We had a very — We’re a great family. We talked to each other. Okay. Well my mother — My grandfather died, leaving my grandmother the three girls under ten. Broke. And my grandmother had to work in the mills and the waitress on the weekends. My mother actually raised her two younger siblings because she was, she was unusually, you know, mature for her age and so forth. You know, maybe if they even had an inkling of it, they didn’t talk to each other about it. And I don’t think — I know my father wouldn’t allow the thought in his head. So, my answer to that would be I don’t think so.

00:35:49 Steve Silverman


00:35:50 Ted Hollingworth

I have no evidence of that at all.

00:35:53 Steve Silverman

Yeah, because if you read the press accounts at the time, a lot of experts were saying too many days had gone by. It was too cold, too wet. There’s no way a girl without her, you know, without much in the way of clothing, protective clothing could survive. But they make it clear in the press reports that your dad was like, let’s keep going, let’s keep going, let’s keep going.

00:36:13 Ted Hollingworth

Well, I remember when one incident there was an old, retired sheriff up there and he got to talk to my father, he said, “We got to get bird dogs in here because they can smell human dying flesh, dead flesh.” And my father turned and said, “You know, I feel sorry for you. We’re going to find her and she’s going to be alive.” So, he wouldn’t — The thought never entered his mind. You know, he was that kind of a person, you know?

When the city of Lowell had a war bond drive to buy a destroyer, he’d be in charge. They’d buy two. He was the president of the Community Chest, you know, and so forth. He was a treasurer and president and treasurer for 25 years of the Lions Club. You know. He was a very committed civic leader. Very committed and so I think that’s one of the reasons that he had that kind of backing.

You know, they saw him. They say Joe’s been — Tom Clayton, who was the broadcaster they said, you know, Joe’s given a lot to this city, we need to help him out. That kind of thing.

That actually received an enormous amount of coverage at that time, and I think without any question what knocked it off the front page was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Because we still had reporters hanging around the house and things like that until, all of a sudden, the war took over.

00:37:42 Steve Silverman

One thing that the press did focus on was that your dad made a decision. Your parents made the decision to move her out of the local hospital in Conway and take her back to Lowell. So, can you expand a little bit on that?

00:37:56 Ted Hollingworth

Yes, she was in the Memorial Hospital in North Conway when they took her. Actually, when — remember, they came down the mountain on the Jeep with my father holding her. He passed her to my uncle. He said, “You go to the hospital with her. I’ve got to call my wife Blanche.” Which he did.

And so, she was in the hospital there. And again, there were a lot of reporters from Pathe News, RKO News, United. You know, I’d get to school, and they’d say I saw you in the movie last night. It was a huge amount of press.

So, when she got to the point where she was — the feet were okay — they knew they were going to save the feet — we decided or my family decided, of course, to move her from North Conway to Lowell General Hospital. Which is where we came from.

Now the question was how do you get her out of there without getting inundated with the front lawn covered with RKO News, you know, everybody else out there. So what we did was — what they did is sneak her down into the cellar and then get her to a back door that nobody really paid attention to. Put her on the floor — back floor — and put a blanket over her in the car and then just drive off.

And my father left a letter to be read by the chief — the highest ranking person at the hospital — to all of them explaining what they did, why they do it, you know, if your this is your child, you do the same thing this thing. And so forth. But he said, don’t read it until we’ve had an hour’s head start.

But then they showed up, of course, at Lowell Hospital, and they were there and so forth.

And actually, when the war broke out, this was — I can’t remember exactly how many months it was after Pearl Harbor. The Treasury Department came out to Dunstable with all of their paraphernalia thing to have her make a pitch for buying war stamps. So, it was still there.

00:40:08 Steve Silverman

And your parents still had no interest in having her do that then?

00:40:11 Ted Hollingworth

That they just, they said sure she could do that for the war effort.

00:40:14 Steve Silverman

Oh, okay.

00:40:17 Ted Hollingworth

She’d get all dressed up and say buy war stamps or something like that.

00:42:24 Steve Silverman

This is going to sound like the craziest question. But when I was done with the story, there was a little mention that her red, her shoes were in a museum. And then it was sold off. Do you know what happened to those shoes? That’s all. It sounds like the craziest question.

00:42:38 Ted Hollingworth

It’s interesting. That’s a great question because I H Morris owned the shoe store business. And his son and the son’s wife were very good friends with my mother and my father. And he was a big game hunter. And so, he wanted to build this museum where all of the things that he had collected when he was a big game hunter, like, he had a solid gold door knocker that he got from the King of Siam, you know, at the time, you know, now Thailand and so forth. And he wanted her sneakers. You know the sandals, the sandals were cut off her feet and he put them under glass and so forth. And so they were there, you know, for years, and I read in the paper one day because I’m into the antique and fine arts business, that there was going to be an auction up there. And I say, oh, sure, I know that I’ve been up there. You know, and so forth. Something happened and I couldn’t make it to that auction, so they were sold at the auction. I don’t know where they went.

00:43:43 Steve Silverman

Yeah, that’s a shame. When I was all done doing my research, for some reason that one little question. What happened to those shoes? It just kind of stuck out in my mind, you know?

00:43:54 Ted Hollingworth

I think I still have the corduroy overalls. They’re worn out in the knees, and I think so I still have the letters, by the way.

00:44:04 Steve Silverman

Oh, I didn’t realize that.

00:44:06 Ted Hollingworth

I have a great big container full of — It’s almost half full of letters. And so forth.

00:44:13 Steve Silverman

That’s incredible. I just kind of assumed they’d be gone.

00:44:16 Ted Hollingworth

No, I have them. They’re in my garage. A heated garage, but my wife says, What are you hanging on to those for?” and I said I don’t know. But you know three cents stamps, you know, and so forth.

00:44:29 Ted Hollingworth

And some of these, you know, letters were amazing.

00:44:33 Ted Hollingworth

This package came and it had a Hershey bar in it and an orange that was pretty well rotted by the time it got to us, and it says for the little girl who had no food. And it was as humble as that all the way to a big, beautiful, you know doll, or something like that.

I remember that first night when I was up there after she was found, the post office, they called and said, “Please Mr. Hollingworth, you go to come down here and get these packages.” This is like a couple of days. And so we drove down, and as I told you, it’s a Chevy sedan, 4 door, with the big back seat and trunk, packed full.

00:45:13 Steve Silverman

And cars were big back then.

00:45:14 Ted Hollingworth

They were big and there was – I mean the trunk was full, the back seat was full, they were on my lap, and so forth, and they just kept coming.

As a matter of fact, I just got a notification from Smith College, that one of Pam’s surviving members of her class had donated money in her name for their alumni drive. And there used to be two of them and I think one of them is deceased now.

She was an interesting — very, very charismatic. She had electric blue eyes and she could walk into the dullest party in New York and immediately it would come alive. And she had friends that would be friends forever. So, wherever she left, she always carried these, you know, friends with her. So, she was very, very, very popular.

A question I always get asked is “Did she ever get married?” And I always said, well, she had more proposals than anybody east of the Mississippi. But she was very picky. And she was like, well, this guy drinks too much, you know, or something like that.

00:46:22 Steve Silverman


00:46:24 Ted Hollingworth

And but. She did date some — She had one of her boyfriends was from Basel, Switzerland. You know, he was about six-foot-seven or eight and he had a PhD in optical physics, I remember that. And his father was the head of the communications for the Swiss army when Hitler was going to invade. And guess who his father’s roommate was when he was a young man in Paris? Picasso. So, the house is filled with Picassos and Monets.

But my mother and sister went over to visit them. This is after my father died. My father died at 58 from acute coronary thrombosis. Smoker, a heavy smoker. My sister died at 54 [Ted later corrected that she passed away at 56], but she was a big smoker also.

But they went over to — my sister took my mother and went for a little tour of Europe because my sister majored in Italian when she was at Smith College. Lived her junior year and worked, went to the University of Florence. She can speak perfect Italian. And they were over there at the house. The shortest member of the family was 5’11”. I think the mother. Yeah, all the counters are big up. My mother was 5’4”. She said it was like working with your fingers up in the air all the time, and so forth.

00:47:47 Steve Silverman

So, she studied Italian. What did she do with her life when she became an adult?

00:47:51 Ted Hollingworth

Actually, she was a really terrific actress. She actually went to New York with the idea of becoming an actress, but when she found out what she had to do in that business as a woman to succeed, she wouldn’t have anything to do with that.

She became the editorial director of the Arthritis Foundation, corporate communications director of Lane Bryant, first female. And she — they used to give out awards like $50,000 to several people every year, you know, for doing great things and she would go with the person two or three days and then write the articles on that.

She was vice president for Creative Services for the Cancer Society — she was the first female vice president of the American Cancer Society, and Communications director of the United States Committee for the United Nations Children’s Fund.

So, she spent about half her life in the for-profit side and the other half on the profit side.

And the head of the UN at the time we knew. And he was a single guy and he would have her go as his escort a lot when they had big affairs because she spoke perfect Italian.

She was a very successful New Yorker. And was just getting interested in retiring. She was down at her — we bought a house together for our mother on the Cape. And then the day before she was going to leave to drive back to Florida, she died. And she had an enlarged heart. And again, probably from the smoking.

It was an absolute stunner. She died, actually, before our mother did. So, it was really tough for my mother.

00:49:42 Steve Silverman

Yeah, I can imagine.

00:49:44 Ted Hollingworth

My mother died about a year later.

00:49:47 Steve Silverman

Now, how old were you when your dad passed?

00:49:50 Ted Hollingworth

In my 20s. I don’t remember exactly how old I was. 1960, I believe. But when he died, but it was an absolute shock. He was driving my mother and my grandmother, my mother’s mother, and my cousin’s grandmother for ice cream. And he suddenly said, “Blanche, I’m going blind. Take the wheel.” She reached over and grabbed the wheel and brought the car over. But he died of an acute coronary thrombosis right there. I mean, if you have to go, that’s the way to go. He was still very young. He looked great.

00:50:31 Steve Silverman

So, I also wanted to ask you, you had told me there was a Gene Autry story. So why don’t you tell about that?

00:50:36 Ted Hollingworth

Oh, that’s a great story. Thank you for reminding me.

You know, this was probably November after she was found. She was lost, of course, in September into November and we were back in Dunstable. And she was home. Okay. So we were back home and so forth. And my father got a call out of the blue and said, “Hello, Mr. Hollingworth.  My name is Gene Autry.” And everybody knew who Gene Autry was at that time, and maybe even still do, it’s surprising. But he said I would like to come and see the little girl who — meet the little girl who was lost.

And now this is in California, you know, and we’re on the East Coast. That tells you, shows you the coverage this was getting. And so, my father said okay, but he was very leery. He thought it was a publicity stunt. So, he said I’ll meet you, and when you come into Boston and you can follow me back to Dunstable.

So, they flew in and Autry with one of his buddies, Jimmy Wakely, who was also a great musician at the time. They came and my father said, okay, just follow me and he drove them all over the place to make sure nobody was following and nobody was. So, he pulled into the yard, and I was there, and Pam was there. My mother had her all dressed up. And he came in and they were two of the nicest men I have ever met in my life.

Autry was fabulous and he brought in a stack of records, probably a foot and a half high, probably everyone he’d ever made. And he was known as the Singing Cowboy, you know, and he said, “Would you like me to sing for you?” And she said, “Yes.”

And remember, she’s 5. And he said, “What would you like me to sing?” She said, “You Are My Sunshine.” So, he said, “Okay,” and he was sitting on the couch. He got his guitar out, and he said, “Why don’t you join me?” So, they both sang together “You Are My Sunshine” and so forth. It was absolutely wonderful.

And then when he was leaving, he turned and he said to my father and to my mother and to Pam and to me, he said my next rodeo in Boston. And he had a big one every year in Boston, you and your mother and your father and your brother are going to be my guests. And you’re going to sit in my box in Boston, at Boston Garden. I’ll send you the tickets. So, they left.

Japanese attack, Pearl Harbor. 1946. We get a letter through the mail from Gene Autry with four box seats. And we went to that, of course. We went down there, and he was fabulous. Came out to meet us, took his, took us to his dressing room, let her sit on the back of his horse. You know, all he was just great. And it was an event I will never forget in my life. And he didn’t make one single move to get publicity out of that. No photographers, no reporters, nothing. So, I have huge respect for that man.

And as you probably know. I was reading an interview with him years and years ago when he was in his prime and he said, “Well, I’m not a very good singer and I’m not a very good actor, but I know numbers,” and he was eventually one of the 400 wealthiest people in America.

00:54:21 Steve Silverman

Pretty incredible. And you know, today he’s not very well remembered. Probably he’s best remembered for his Christmas songs like, you know, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and so on.

00:54:29 Ted Hollingworth

Yes, that keeps every year.

00:54:32 Steve Silverman

They always say if you’re going record a hit song, it should be a Christmas song because it, you know, every year you’ll get royalties from it.

00:54:39 Ted Hollingworth

That’s right.

00:54:39 Steve Silverman

But yeah, I mean it — he was a superstar in his day.

00:54:43 Ted Hollingworth

Oh, yes. Yeah.

00:54:44 Steve Silverman

So, it’s amazing that he’d go out of his way and, you know, sees your sister before the war, and then five years later, the war is over, and he still remembers her and invites the family.

00:54:57 Ted Hollingworth

He remembered that. We were flabbergasted.

00:55:01 Steve Silverman

Now, did the family ever hear from him after that, or was that the last time?

00:55:05 Ted Hollingworth

No, that was it. That was it. Well, we made no effort either. I mean, you know, it was wonderful and everything else, but we didn’t want to bother him.  And I think he recognized we were just, you know, normal people and he saw himself as kind of like a normal guy. And so, we’ll just go on with our lives. This has been great. But it’s over.

00:55:30 Steve Silverman

So, I don’t have many more questions. I do have one. Did anyone ever blame you? I mean, you went with your sister, and you left her by the side of the creek. And then she got lost in the woods. Did anyone ever blame you?

00:55:45 Ted Hollingworth

Not one single bit. As I was saying, you know, we were very confident. We’re not afraid of the woods and everything else. He wasn’t worried about her and the brook and everything else because he knew it was – he checked it out. And it was very shallow, that kind of thing. But he was concerned that, you know, shouldn’t leave her there. Just go and get her. This is all maybe 50 yards.

00:56:13 Steve Silverman


00:56:15 Ted Hollingworth

And so evidently, what we figured out later is she went up the brook and she cut up a little too soon. And so there was some brush there and she probably walked within 10-15 feet where the family was.

00:56:34 Steve Silverman


00:56:35 Ted Hollingworth

It was all quiet because it was after dinner, you know, and they’re reading newspapers and things like that.  She just walked by. Ironically, the two people who went in that direction to look were my mother and me. And we just didn’t go far enough.

00:56:52 Steve Silverman

As the years went on after this, did she think about it or is it just something she put out of her mind? What do you think?

00:56:58 Ted Hollingworth

I would say that it did not bother her. Okay? We could talk about it. We could ask questions. Which we didn’t do very much anyway, because it was done and so forth. It was a super happy process, a very difficult thing for my parents to go through.

But every time it came up — You know, for example, here’s something from the Boston Herald. This was the 25th anniversary. And this was, it says, “6,000 Hunted and Found Pam 25 Years Ago.” And then they had the picture here of my father, Pam, and my mother, after she got out of the hospital. And that’s her in New York City, when she, 25 years later. These things would come out. She’d be interviewed and they talked to, and she was very calm and just factual and — She wasn’t scarred by it, if that’s what your point is.

00:58:02 Steve Silverman

It’s just an amazing story. I do come across lots of these stories because I’m always looking through old newspapers and stuff, and most of the time they don’t end well.

00:58:14 Ted Hollingworth

And they died. They’re dead.

00:58:16 Steve Silverman

And I mentioned this to you when we spoke last week. Is that I kind of came into the story in the middle. I just kind of stumbled across it. And I didn’t expect her to survive. I was just kind of pulling all the information together. It’s like, wow, she lived, you know, it was not what I expected to happen.

00:58:35 Ted Hollingworth

Well, this is why you have the picture of me reading the Lowell Sun. 6-inch headlines.

00:58:42 Steve Silverman

Yeah, I have that on my website.

00:58:44 Ted Hollingworth

And I think that everybody was shocked. They not only found her, but she was alive. And that she recovered. You know, for eight days and eight nights down to 21 degrees, no food. But she stayed near the brook, which saved her life because you can’t survive very long without water.

00:59:06 Steve Silverman

Yeah. I just want to make an observation. And you’re 91 years old. Is that correct?

00:59:12 Ted Hollingworth

That’s correct.

00:59:14 Steve Silverman

You were nine years old when this happened, and I noticed as you read the account of your sister’s rescue, when she was found, when your dad was notified, and just now, you still get kind of, you know, you can see your throat tighten up. It’s still emotional to you.

00:59:28 Ted Hollingworth

Oh, yes.

I’ll tell you something interesting and I may have told you before, but I’ve taught a lot of classes. You know, when I’ve taught one class, I taught, I think I taught 30 times at Harvard. It was a very, very popular class. We got the, you know, distinguished teaching award and everything else in it, and it produced some amazing people like the President of Columbia, South America. You never knew who was in the classes in those particular days, and at the end when my whole staff would do their presentations and then I just get up. Instead of giving a speech, which they all know I could do that by this time, I just said I want to read something to you. And that whole room of up to 90 people sometime, from every culture you can imagine all over the world, and some PhDs, some doctors and researchers. Not everybody, but complete spread of the whole human spectrum at that particular time, and that room would become dead silent until I finished and it was still silent when I stopped.

I mean, they were just like as wrapped up in that as if they were in the search, just reading the last half of the final, you know, chapter and so forth. And everyone which they talked to me said that’s the most incredible humanistic story I’ve ever heard, regardless of where they came from.

01:00:57 Steve Silverman

Yeah, it’s an incredible, incredible story. I have to say, when I was done writing it, I was thinking this would make a great movie, you know?

01:01:05 Ted Hollingworth

Make a great book. Because movies — they mess them up, as you know. But I would say, you know, I’ve chastised myself for years that I haven’t — I’m good at reading books, and I’m good at editing other people’s stuff. For me to have the patience to sit down and do that kind of concentrated work, it’s just not my kind of thing.

01:01:30 Steve Silverman

Well, Ted, I just want to thank you for being so generous and telling this story. It’s one of my favorites. Of all the podcasts, the stories I’ve written in the 30-plus years I’ve been doing it, it’s one of my favorites. And I’m just so happy you were willing to come on and share your telling of it, to share it with my audience. And I do appreciate you doing that. So, thanks.

01:01:50 Ted Hollingworth

Thank you very much, Steve. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m delighted to see that you’ve kept what I think a great story alive.

01:01:58 Steve Silverman

You’re very welcome. Well, I guess we should say goodbye. So, let’s say goodbye. Bye!

01:02:02 Ted Hollingworth

Goodbye. Ciao.

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