Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Clifford Irving's Hoax

Howard R. Hughes Jr.

Howard Robarb Hughes was born on Christmas Eve 1905 to Howard and Allene Gano Hughes at Baptist Hospital in Houston Texas. Howard Jr. would be the couple's only son, due to complications during the delivery. Following the birth of their son, his parents took him home to their modest house on 1404 Crawford Street on Houston's east side.

Howard Hughes as an infant
Howard Hughes as an infant
 

Howard Sr. wanted the best for his new family and give his family everything and anything they wanted. To achieve this goal, he believed he needed a great deal of money. Three years later Howard Sr. struck pay dirt with an innovative creation.

Howard Hughes: The Untold Story
Howard Hughes: The Untold Story
 

In 1908, Howard Sr. and his partner Walter B. Sharp perfected an already existing invention, which was able to drill into the earth and reach reservoirs of oil at depths no other machinery was able to reach at the time. According to Brown and Broeske's book Howard Hughes: The Untold Story, the men refused to sell their drill, known as the "rollerbit". Instead, the men formed a company known as the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company and leased the drill for $30,000 per well to oil explorers, such as Standard Oil. Within a short period of time, Howard Sr. and his partner become two of the wealthiest men in the country. Howard Sr. was finally able to fulfill his dream of being able to give his family anything they wanted.

Young Howard Hughes and Allene
Young Howard Hughes and Allene
 

Needless to say, Howard Jr. grew up in a life of luxury. From a young age he was pampered by his parents and doted on by his mother. Howard would often receive elaborate gifts and exorbitant sums of money from his father to make up for his frequent absence from home, due to his many business trips and outings with mistresses. Howard Jr. didn't mind his father being gone because he then was able to receive the sole attention of his mother. The two shared a very strong bond throughout Howard's youth. In fact, the relationship between the two was deemed by many to be unnaturally close.

Mrs. Hughes thought her shy son was superior to other children and treated him as such. As a result, Howard failed to form close bonds with other children and became increasingly dependent on his mother. The dependency was to last for many years.

Howard Jr. was an introverted youth who spent most of his time alone tinkering with mechanical bits and pieces in an attempt to create various things. It wasn't long before the boy's genius became apparent to those around him. Howard Jr. proved to be a gifted mechanical inventor. Before the age of thirteen he had already created objects, such as radios and a motorcycle from scrap pieces lying about his workshop.

Howard's passion for mechanics was evident in every aspect of his life. It was, in many respects, his first love and he was continuously constructing, inventing or reassembling any form of mechanical equipment or machinery that he could get his hands on. The skies were the limit and his father provided him with whatever he needed to conduct his experiments. His passion was only interrupted by bouts of illness, which he suffered intermittently throughout his youth and teenage years.

Howard's frequent episodes of "illness" were not as serious as he led others to believe. In fact, he was a hypochondriac in the truest sense of the word, vying for attention using every means possible. He became quite skillful at inventing symptoms that had no medical explanation, knowing that his mother would come running at his slightest cough, hiccup or complaint. Such behavior carried on until one day he really did fall ill with an unknown virus that ravaged his body and temporarily paralyzed him for approximately two months.

Eventually, Howard made an almost full recovery from the strange illness. However, he did experience partial hearing impairment as a result. Howard's doctor was suspicious of the symptoms the boy suffered because he had never seen anything like it. He believed that Howard was faking his sickness all along. According to Brown and Broeske, the doctor diagnosed the boy with "hysterical paralysis," which greatly worried his father. He thought his wife's constant doting on his son weakened the boy's emotional health and possibly even his physical constitution.

Howard Hughes Sr.
Howard Hughes Sr.
    

In order to prevent any long-term damage to his son, Howard Sr. decided it would be best to enroll his son at a boarding school, where he could mature into a strong, independent man. Howard Jr. acclimated quickly to the school and began to excel in his studies, yet he failed to socially adjust due to his intense shyness. Unfortunately, in 1922 after attending only one year he was withdrawn by his father following the untimely and tragic death of his mother. Less than two years later his father would also die from a heart attack. The deaths of his parents proved to be a turning point for Howard that would forever change his life.

 

Categories
Advertisement