This Time was a Longer Road from Research to Publishing


But more importantly, it also adds and expands upon Hammond's personal life along with the much sought-after list of the inventor's patents. That patent list was no small feat to compile as it required research into a great many foreign patent offices for cross-reference.

Dandola's reason for tackling a second volume was because he constantly had been asked more and more questions by readers and by visitors to the museum. As he explains, "People would visit the castle, come away with more questions than are supplied there, and seek out somebody to ask. I'm that somebody."

As the internet has begun listing more avenues to explore, Dandola found those answers. As a result, he has acquired files and photos which rival those of the museum itself and he has corresponded with sources all over the world. Dandola is the recognized expert on Hammond.

The initial Hammond biography debuted in 2002. The incident which eventually prompted Dandola to expand it occurred a year later. It was a phone call from Charlene Steele, proprietress of The White House Bed and Breakfast just down the road from Hammond Castle Museum. Dandola and his wife had become close with Charlene and the Hammond bio was on sale at The White House. A woman from just outside of Seattle, Washington, was visiting Gloucester because she had grown up there. When she spied the biography, she added some important information about her father who had been Mrs. Hammond's first husband. The information about Mrs. Hammond's first marriage was always vague and any insights were far too precious to let pass by. It turned out that the story being told by the museum was entirely wrong. At that point, an update to the bio was out of the question so to make sure that the information was readily available, Dandola included it in the second edition of his The Ghosts of Hammond Castle, which was being prepped at the time. He considered that the new information was, in fact, an escaped ghost which had gone misreported for decades.

From that one incident, more information floated in over the years—especially after Dandola included Hammond and the castle as characters in several mystery novels.

Although Dandola was introduced to Hammond Castle because of his love of things medieval, it turned out that there was another link the author shared with the inventor. Dandola has a unique familial connection to Hammond through inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Edison lived and worked for the last fifty years of his life in Dandola's hometown of West Orange, New Jersey. Dandola's grandfather worked as a personal messenger boy for Edison during the same years Hammond was Edison's protégé. What's more, both Hammond and Dandola's grandfather shared a friendship with Edison's youngest son, Theodore.

Dandola's initial work on the book had been completed for two years but he was forced to await final details which were promised by several outside sources here in the United States.

"One of the most exasperating problems is hearing from people who purport to have information and then don't follow up so that I'd have to chase after them," the author explains. "Then there's those who have items which, after making contact, suddenly worry that those items might have been obtained illegally. The castle suffered from a great many thefts in the late 1960's through the 1980's. It's a policy of Hammond Castle Museum—wrongly, I think—not to buy back stolen items which routinely turn up in local antique shops. I'm only interested in trying to fit together pieces of the puzzle when it comes to Hammond's life and possessions. I'm a biographer. I'm not the antiquities police."

Researching a biography entails a great deal of detective work. Once a hint of new information is dangled in front of a biographer, he can't help but chase down its accuracy. It becomes a sort of obsession. So he waits until he can gather and resolve every clue until it can finally see print.

Now that it's finally published. Living in the Past, Looking to the Future: The Biography of John Hays Hammond, Jr., Addendum is 318 pages and includes a great many vintage photos. To order,
click here.

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Copyright © 2020 by John Dandola, Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Second Volume of the John Hays Hammond, Jr., Biography Finally Sees Print
PRLog  (Press Release) — February 11, 2020 — Inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr., is a local legend in Gloucester, Massachusetts because of his quirkiness in building himself a castle to serve as both his residence and laboratory. The castle is now a museum beckoning tourists throughout the year. But the sheer  number of Hammond's patents is certainly nothing to scoff at (more than five hundred and fifty in the United States and an estimated eight hundred worldwide). Most of those patents were in the fields of remote control and naval weaponry.

The second volume of Living in the Past, Looking to the Future: The Biography of John Hays Hammond, Jr. debuts on February 12th —the fifty-fifth anniversary of Hammond's death. This new volume matches the style and size of the original biography so that the two are a matching pair. Author John Dandola chose to catagorize this second volume as an "addendum" as it  corrects some minor information which recent research was able to clarify.
A Further Note

Dandola has run across similar delay problems before when preparing histories—especially when writing those about his hometown of West Orange, New Jersey. Simply put, offering items and then holding out thwarts proper research for absolutely no reason. The only exception would be a case of rival historians tackling the same subject.

Just within the past year when Dandola was asked to update his West Orange Fire Department history, a man came forward with a photo from circa 1910 of the horse-drawn engines posed with the firemen. The owner of the vintage photo was amenable to making a copy of the photo for inclusion in Dandola's book update and, as a result, the owner of the vintage photo would gain the identifies of all the men. But when no copy was forthcoming, Dandola was forced to pursue the man only to be given the excuse that he was working nonstop and couldn't find time to get a copy made.

"I can understand the ‘working nonstop' part." Dandola says, "but the guy has to go food-shopping or supply-shopping at some time and there's a CVS and Walgreen's on every other corner throughout the United States. It takes about fifteen minutes to scan and print the photo. After six months of reminding him, I gave up. I'm fairly certain that he suspects the photo in his possession was stolen. It may very well have been but I only wanted a copy of it for the book with no questions asked. People withholding such things prevents the full scope of knowledge about a subject. Outside of my expertise, it makes their item or items rather worthless in terms of content and context because I'm the one who can authenticate things. These owners never figure on that."

As with the Hammond biography, Dandola has become the expert on the history of his hometown fire, police, and recreation departments. If, thirty years ago, Dandola hadn't made copies of old photos in the possession of the recreation department, those images would no longer exist because the department discarded the originals. The loss of history is a loss to everyone.