Fifty Years After His Death, More Details of His Life are Explored
Although the son of a wealthy mining engineer, Hammond earned his
own millions from the patents on his inventions. He built himself a
castle replete with drawbridge to serve as his residence, his laboratory, and a museum for his Roman, medieval, and Renaissance collections. The castle's eighty-foot towers house the pipes to one of the country's largest pipe organs. The home is situated so that it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean from a rocky cliff in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and it now continues on as Hammond Castle Museum.
The summer release date for the biography's second volume is because that is when interest in Hammond increases due to the seasonal opening of his museum.
"I thought I had covered all there was about the man," says Dandola. "But as polite and thorough as I was in seeking interviews, frustratingly, some information was volunteered only after the biography was in print. On top of that, I was continually being contacted through my web site by readers asking for more and more details. I kept finding myself in a position similar to teaching school and there was always a student who raised another question or another misconception I hadn't thought of exploring myself so I went back and re-examined the bio to see what needed expanding."
The new material includes a complete list of Hammond's patents (with descriptions) and a complete discography of the organ music recorded at Hammond Castle. It also delves even more into Hammond's personal life and dispels a number of outlandish rumors about the inventor.
"That needed doing," Dandola states quite emphatically. "The rumors have simply gotten out of hand. They're fun and they make for great copy but for the most part, they're ridiculous and the internet has only compounded the problem by repeating them to a worldwide audience. To be sure, Hammond was quite a local character. He was the man who, in the years prior to World War I, used to send full-sized unmanned ships out into Gloucester Harbor then he'd guide those ships by remote control from the cliffs like they were miniatures in a bathtub. It scared the be-jesus out of the locals who took to calling them ‘ghost-ships'. He earned and cultivated his reputation as something of a ‘mad scientist' but local gossip greatly exaggerated him, which is fine and to be expected on a local level. The internet, on the other hand, has caused far too many of those rumors to be passed along as fact."
Is the biographer willing to share any examples of those rumors?
"Sure, since this is being posted on the internet, maybe it will help curtail the widespread inaccuracies," Dandola responds. "The most prevalent rumor is that Hammond supposedly left instructions in his will for poison ivy be planted around his tomb to deter vandals. I have a copy of his will. In fact, I have copies of all of his wills as they were updated through the years. There is no such stipulation. In fact, the property was overrun with poison ivy before Hammond even purchased that parcel of land and poison ivy plagued the construction crews all during the building of the castle back in the 1920's. Lack of upkeep is what caused the poison ivy to grow out-of-control along the pathway to the tomb."
When he explains it, Dandola easily puts that internet yarn into a much more proper and believable perspective. He is also adamant about correcting a rumor about Hammond's now-fashionable association with Nikola Tesla.
"That's probably the second most repeated rumor," Dandola stresses. "Because of the re-emergence of Tesla's popularity in the past few decades, his devotees have claimed that Tesla lived at Hammond Castle during some of his final years. He did not. To be honest, Tesla was not the put-upon misunderstood genius he is now made out to be. He was a very difficult personality to get along with. As a young man, Hammond had idolized Tesla and tried to work with him but Tesla made it such an intolerable situation that the two parted ways. At the end of Tesla's life, out of respect, Hammond did help him financially—and, most likely, did so anonymously. We only know about Hammond's generosity because of an interview with one of his close associates. But Tesla never lived at Hammond Castle. He would have caused far too much friction."
There is a third inaccuracy about Hammond which Dandola considers putting a bit too much unnecessary shine on the apple.
"Hammond's doctorate was honorary. It is certainly arguable that he deserved it more than a great many who completed the university courses to earn such a degree but, because it was an honorary title, Hammond did not use it professionally. Unfortunately, the museum has been calling him 'Dr. Hammond' for decades and it is just plain wrong."
Dandola takes his job as a biographer quite seriously and he does indeed have the ability to dismantle rumored incidents and filter the components into fact.
As he himself sums up: "Most of the rumors have a certain amount of craziness attached to them because much of Hammond's life has been victimized by people fabricating connections or reasons instead of researching and then reporting reality. The museum staff is even guilty of that. Was Hammond colorful? Without a doubt. He possessed a dramatic flair so often lacking in many other inventors but because he wasn't dull and boring certainly doesn't mean he deserves to be remembered as a crackpot."
Besides being a biographer and historian, John Dandola is also a published novelist, a produced screenwriter, and a produced playwright. John Hays Hammond, Jr., has been featured as a prominent character in two of Dandola's mystery novels which are set during the 1940's. His web site is http://www.JohnDandola.com.
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Copyright © 2015 by The Quincannon Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
The Biography of Inventor
John Hays Hammond, Jr., Gets a Second Volume
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) — February 12, 2015 — Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr., who became known as "The "Father of Radio Control" because he was responsible for countless remote-controlled weaponry during World War I and World War II. Hammond was a protégé of both Thomas Alva Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and he also worked with Nikola Tesla. In observance of today's date, the Quincannon Publishing Group is announcing that a second volume of Hammond's biography by author John Dandola will debut this coming summer. The first volume of Hammond's biography, Living in the Past, Looking to the Future was issued in February of 2004 and has never been out-of-print. The second volume will keep the same main title adding The Biography of John Hays Hammond, Jr., Addendum as a subtitle. In future printings, both books will be combined into one.
John Hays Hammond, Jr.,
and his castle