Aviator - Preface

Aviator (Illustration) American History Biographies Famous People Film Aviation & Space Exploration Medicine

Photograph of Howard Hughes, Jr. with his Boeing 100A, taken in Ingelwood California in the 1940s.  Image online courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress.


If you can help him
to forget himself,
get along better with boys
and perhaps teach him
to keep his hut in order,
I ask for nothing else. 

Allene Gano Hughes to Lt. Aures
Regarding her son, Howard R. Hughes, Jr. July, 1914


Allene Hughes was concerned about her son when she wrote to Lt. Aures, a stockade leader at Dan Beard’s Outdoor School in Pennsylvania. It was the month before World War I erupted in Europe, and young Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. - an only child - was twelve years old.

His mother always worried about him. It was a time - before preventive vaccinations pioneered by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin were available - when infantile paralysis (polio, the infectious disease which paralyzed President Franklin Roosevelt) was spreading among children in America and elsewhere

The President, who often stood while giving speeches, was rarely photographed in his wheel chair - as we see him (in 1941) with Ruthie Bie (whose sister, Wendy, was also a polio victim).

Howard, a somewhat sickly child, benefited from his summers at the Outdoor School. He would return home in much better condition than when he left. But at camp, Howard was around other children. Other children had germs.

In the summer of 1916, Howard’s father (Howard Robard Hughes, Sr.) wrote to Dan Beard:

I thought these clippings [reporting the rapid spread of infantile paralysis] might be of interest as the clippings show how easily the violent germs are carried even by a well person.

Fear of germs, and what they could do to him, had deep - ultimately paralyzing - roots in Howard’s life. 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Nov 04, 2016

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