Close Encounter with Howard Hughes… Really!

Howard Hughes’ Limousine, 1959

Howard Hughes’ Limousine, 1959

In 1959, at 13, I flew TWA to Los Angeles after spending the summer in Paris with my father, who had lived there since the death of my mother in the sinking of the Andrea Doria. This was the first non0stop jet from between the cities.  At the Los Angeles airport my uncle Rory McCloud met me in an impossibly long, sleek, black limousine. As we pulled away from the arrival area, I noticed a rumpled sleeping figure with unkempt grey suit trousers, sneakers,  and wearing a black fedora pulled over his eyes. “We gotta stop at the studio” he muttered.   Abruptly he pushed the hat to the back of his head and gave me a dark bemused look. “Your uncle says we went to the same school in Boston. I graduated Fairchild in 1920 and I guess you’ll be 40 years behind me.  Hated the place. Kills the human spirit. Hotbed of cruelty and snobbery — someone once called it.” After glancing at my uncle Hughes grinned, continuing,  “So, Solomon, are you gonna be the future Prophet of the Mormon Church?”

I glanced helplessly at my uncle for a key to respond. Rory turned back from talking with the driver about the whereabouts of Jean Peters, the current Mrs. Howard Hughes, who, it appears,  had been drinking heavily throughout the day. My uncle said, “we certainly hope so Howard.”

[For more about a concerted project of Howard Hughes, Israel and the Mormon Church to complete Israel’s nuclear capability in the 1970’s, and for  Solomon Fairchild’s fateful quest to amend his troubled youth, and regain a long-ago love purchase “Falcons and Seagulls, a Utah Tale.”

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