Grabbing the phone, Shoup must have expected the worst. Instead, a tiny voice asked, “Is this Santa Claus?”
“Dads pretty annoyed,” said Terri Van Keuren, Shoups daughter, recalling the legend of that day in 1955. “He barks into the phone,” demanding to know whos calling.
“The little voice is now crying,” Van Keuren continued. “Is this one of Santas elves, then?”
The Santa questions were only beginning. That day, the local newspaper had run a Sears Roebuck ad with a big picture of St. Nick and text that urged, “Hey,Kiddies! Call me direct … Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night.”
But the phone number in the ad was off by a digit. Instead of connecting with Santa, callers were dialing in on the line that would ring if the Russians were attacking.
Before long, the phone was ringing off the hook, and, softening up, Shoup grabbed a nearby airman and told him to answer the calls and, Van Keuren said, “just pretend youre Santa.” —snopes.com