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PUBLICATIONS :: NYSM RECORD :: Daniel & Floyd Hungerford

cover Daniel and Floyd Hungerford: Rocket Power, Interstellar Travel and Eternal Life

by Geoffrey N. Stein

Chapter 8: THE FINAL YEARS

In 1961 Daniel Hungerford negotiated with Otto P. Kohl of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Local History in Hammondsport, New York as well as with William E. Dion of Wilbraham, Massachusetts about the sale of early aircraft and parts retained by the Hungerfords. In a letter to Dion, Hungerford mentioned a figure of $6,000 for all of the material, including incomplete airplanes, propellers, engines and engine parts. Hungerford added that Dion's offer to take a rotary engine and the JN-4 stored outside the Hungerford house would not be of much help since it did nothing to clear space in the shop “which we desire very much–.” And he said that while Curtiss offered much less, the museum promised “privileges and recognition in the museum that is almost equal to eating our cake and still having it and does not include the little 2–cyld [sic] engine Floyd and I built back in 1909–1910....”223

In the end the Curtiss Museum acquired much Hungerford material. Two rebuilt Curtiss airplanes, three Hungerford–built (or rebuilt) engines and a Curtiss engine from the Hungerford brothers are in exhibit galleries in 2013. Although negotiations over the prices paid endured into 1966, as described below, a file note at the Curtiss Museum dated March 1994 lists “Hungerford Donations” including the Jenny and Oriole airplanes, an ox yoke, a gas lamp, a joy stick, a “Club Prop” and “prop on the Le Rhone”.

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Keith Marvin, a Troy Record reporter and music critic from 1946 to 1974, wrote hundreds of automobile history articles, many about American automobiles of the 1920s and about license plates around the world.224 One obituary said Marvin contributed to “every antique automobile magazine published in the country.” Another article claimed Marvin's stories about the 1920s were “the only written record of a forgotten period”, while the Society of Automotive Historians and other organizations “bestowed their highest honors on him for his research and writing.”225 As a founder of the Automobilists of the Upper Hudson Valley, Marvin served for years as the editor of The Automobilist.

With the Automobile Quarterly in 1965, Marvin's pioneering “The Wizards of West Second Street” presented readers with the dramatic history of the Daniel and Floyd and their rocket car.226 While Marvin is credited, rightly, with researching and writing Hungerford rocket car history, he was, according to Hungerford, not the first to “call on us for a story.”

Harry Buel  [sic] – his father was the Editor of Syracuse Standard – took the actual picture and others of my brother Floyd S. and me away back in 1932 – or – 33. Harry put on a display about that time with a Rocket (fireworks rocket) procured sled with standard (pyrotechnic). Rockets – a bundle on each side of his airplane fuselage shaped –rocket – traveled about 100 feet on the ice on Oneida? Lake – crashed into the snow bank along his path. No damage.  Harry came here – he said to learn how we ignited the fuel in our Rockets. Same was done with standard AC spark plugs same as in our chevy car engine.227

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Ralph L. Hodge (1902–1977), a resident of the Capital District, knew about the Hungerford rocket car “in its earliest days of existence.”228 In the 1930s Hodge lived and worked in Elmira employed as a traveling salesman, a laborer and a machinist.229 Later having moved to eastern New York, he worked as a furniture refinisher and as a machinery operator at the Watervliet Arsenal.

Hodge and Marvin were acquaintances in the Albany area. Their conversations about the Hungerfords' rocket car were mentioned in a 1980 article by Jim Dix: 

Keith Marvin learned about the rocket car from Hodge. Jerry Hendy in 1980 wrote that Marvin a well known automotive historian...passed through Elmira in his 1924 Wasp on the Glidden Tour in October 1963. He heard of a strange car from his friend Ralph Hodge who was from Horseheads. While in Elmira he spoke to four people concerning the Rocket Car but he received the typical reaction – the Hungerfords were crackpots. He did learn the Hungerford's [sic] address....230

Back in the Capital District with the Hungerfords' address in hand, Marvin wrote a letter on December 17, 1963 asking about the car. On December 19 Daniel Hungerford gave the letter to Floyd who went “upstairs to read it and to rest. He never woke up....and somehow the older brother couldn't regard this timing as simple coincidence. Whatever it was, it convinced Dan that he should see us.”231 Hungerford finally responded to Marvin's letter in April 1964, writing that the coincidence of letter and Floyd's death meant, “There is something radically wrong – here...”

Thirty years later, Marvin recalled in Old Cars Weekly News & Marketplace:

        I first became aware of the car in 1963 from a friend, the late Ralph Hodge....I tried without success to learn more on the car while in Elmira that fall. The answer was the same from everyone I questioned. They knew nothing about it.
        They knew but they weren't talking. As an investigative newspaper reporter at the time, I could sense a certain fear in their collective attitudes. The brothers were known – behind their backs – as “wizards” and they were both still living in Elmira.
        Ralph and I drove down to Elmira in the spring of 1964 and, as nearly as we could determine, were the only persons he'd [Daniel] received since the death of his brother. He believed that the two of them consisted of one mind in two bodies and after Floyd's death always signed his letters, “Daniel D. and Floyd S. Hungerford by D.D.H.” This might seem strange to the reader. I thought so, too, until after I'd spent a number of hours in that house and saw things not of this world. I think Daniel may have been correct in his conviction. An elderly, long–bearded man, he virtually lived in an overstuffed chair in his cluttered living room, with a pair of crutches and a loaded shotgun within easy reach. There was no telephone and no doorbell, his only contact with the outside world was a boy who brought in groceries and other necessities as needed. He was suffering from an advancing bone deterioration in both legs but could still maneuver about the house.232

Hungerford invited Marvin to stay in the West Second Street house on the latter's visit.

        We have an 8–room house here – but the rooms are so cluttered with junk, etc. However,  my late brother Floyd's room is available – the bed needs a new mattress, etc., and except  in the winter we don't have hot water – have to heat some on the oil cook stove. Then there is the Mark Twain Hotel, etc. or you might have a sleeping bag?233

As far as transportation to Elmira was concerned, Hungerford wrote Marvin that

        Our car at this time fails to meet law requirements but I can get my neighbor to bring me to the airport if you so desire, and let me know time of your plane arrival. You will be quite likely to come by auto –or buss [sic], if the latter – I can meet you in our 1935 Pont. [sic] Sedan – or taxis are close by.234

Marvin and Hungerford exchanged a number of letters in 1964. Marvin proposed writing a history of the rocket car and its builders, a suggestion that Hungerford found worthy. On May 19, 1964 Marvin wrote to propose a visit to Hungerford in early June and added that he wanted “in every way to create a story which will bring to the public attention the men who had the vision to create a workable rocket and I already have an interested magazine editor working on the idea. Meanwhile I am guarding your pictures with my life.”235 Marvin indicated to Hungerford that he had an exclusive story in mind. Hungerford assured Marvin, “We are protecting your interests to the full. Will see you June 6th – Sat. P.M.”236

Money was an incentive for both Hungerford and Marvin in the publication of the Hungerford story. In May 1964 Hungerford had a look at the car “for the first time in months.” The man on whose property the car was parked apparently wanted to display the car at “A Firemens [sic] doings in Big Flats”. He added that, “I need any money I can get – but not at the expense of our story.”

Marvin responded:

I only wonder how deeply you may be committed for the Big Flats display as there may be a good reason why this COULD be detrimental to our story. I don't go into details in writing but will discuss the matter with you in Elmira on Saturday.
            In any event, I should appreciate all confidences with the man who wants to display the car. I just may have a suggestion which may appeal to you more and which might possible [sic] make more money for you. ...and as I have said, whatsoever I can make on this story will be shared with you.237

Marvin sent his draft “Wizards” article to Hungerford who made the requested corrections and additions. Marvin had stressed to Hungerford that “my basic precept...is to place the great man in the place I've felt he belongs, since I first met him. Therefore, do please feel free to make any suggestions...”238

Money also was an incentive for Hungerford to go to Eldridge Park, a picnic ground and amusement center, on August 1, 1964. Ralph Hodge had telegraphed that a Remington electric shaver was to be awarded at the Elmira Centennial Family Day picnic to the winner of the “beard grooming event.” The Sunday Telegram the next day reported that with a beard reaching almost to his waist Hungerford “seemed to have started preparing for the contest about three years ago.” Hungerford wrote Marvin that he'd put the shaver up for sale “at 5,000.00 collectors [sic] item, details later.”239

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A surviving photocopy of an “option contract” between Hungerford and Ralph Hodge dated June 6, 1964, in consideration of a $100 payment gave Hodge a ninety–day option to purchase the car “owned by HUNGERFORD ROCKETS” for $5,000. Of the arrangement for transferring the car to the Albany area, Marvin wrote, “It was decided that Ralph and I would bring it to New York's capital district and try to sell it for him...with the understanding that ownership would revert to us in the event of Daniel's death. Ralph's attorney, Daniel S. Dwyer of Albany, joined us in the arrangement [,] and I nearly sold it to the late William Harrah who operated Harrah's Automobile Collection in Las Vegas.” In 1994, Marvin related that the rocket car came to Ralph Hodge with the understanding that he and Marvin would sell it for Hungerford, who hoped to receive a large sum.240

Dwyer seemed to have taken a more direct interest in Hungerford's affair. Apparently in a visit to Elmira, he and Hungerford talked about the latter's social security status (“he has his doubts.”) And Dwyer “took my case” in an automobile accident in which Hungerford was a passenger in a vehicle rear–ended December 24, 1963, by a truck equipped with a snow plow.241

It appears that Hodge received materials from Hungerford beyond the rocket car itself. On June 25, 1964, Hungerford wrote to Marvin that “Ralph is coming over here on July 4th for more items and if possible – bring money for any thing he may have sold in the meantime.”

Hungerford wrote to Marvin in late August 1964 that Hodge's ninety–day option for the acquisition of the rocket car would expire on September 5 or 6.  Hodge, through his attorney, Dwyer, was “sending out form letters to various prospective buyers”. Hungerford asked Marvin to deliver to Dwyer (or Hodge?) “ our file – photos – letters –newspaper articles – especially our German papers – letters and photos – this will include letters from Miss Yerman [?] and or copy of Potter Newspaper, Pa.”242

Figure 28:

A photograph of the rocket car in 1964 shows the deteriorated condition of the body. License plates witness the last registration in 1952. Daniel Hungerford posed behind the car.


Hodge replaced the deteriorated body on the rocket car with new, sheet aluminum construction. Replacing the heavier wheels the Hungerfords had installed, Hodge mounted wheels similar to the original Chevrolet items. Marvin said the car was “run in a number of civic parades and other events in New York State's Capital District. In the fall [sic] of 1965, it was exhibited at the Watervliet Arsenal...and Daniel Hungerford was reunited, for the last [sic] time, with the automobile he had conceived, nurtured and promoted.”243 

Figure 29:

Daniel Hungerford was at the Watervliet Arsenal event in May 1965. The two boys were children of a man who had been a friend of George Mapes at Champlain College.


In October 1966 Hungerford wrote to Sekella of his trip to Watervliet the previous year.

       Year ago last May 15th, Rick Chase of Millport, NY took Botsford and me to Watervliet arsenal – to see the Rocket Car on display – was the main attraction at the 14th arsenal display of the army's doings. I was photographed and answered a million questions. One man came up to me – He had 2 boys – and wanted to photo – us I did – said he rode in the car [at Champlain College] – with Geo. W. Mapes – a very good friend of mine He and Floyd –were always at Swords points – one day –in our shop Geo pushed Floyds hand against a hot furnace – you should have seen the fire fly then.

Hungerford wrote about a second trip east in September 1966 that “was in a sense, hellish.” His crippled state made carrying luggage difficult, and he had to rely on help carrying his things, “in many cases old ladies.” Hungerford traveled to Schenectady by bus planning to visit his friends Erwin and Helen French in Gloversville (formerly from Horseheads) but learned they were “out of town, return Oct.” After buses to Albany and Troy, Hungerford took a cab to Cohoes.244

Hungerford spent the night with Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hodge and their son in Cohoes, where Hungerford was hoping to sell the rocket car for $50,000 he wrote to Henry G. Budd. From there, Hungerford visited his daughter and son–in–law at Claremont, New Hampshire.245 

To Sekella, Hungerford wrote that after New Hampshire he stayed with “old and young friends a few days – out on long [sic] Island – did some business on their phone”. Total expenses for the trip were $40.40 of which Norman Hyde paid the bus fare ($8.90) from New Hampshire to New York City.246 One wonders if the home where he stayed was that of John Albee. In New York City, Hungerford, one surmises, sought a black lawyer to help with his effort to regain the property on Second Street in Elmira (see below).

Eviction!

After the death of their mother in 1944, Daniel and Floyd lacked housekeeping and maintenance for their house at 823 West Second Street. By 1950 many who passed by the Hungerford property saw shabby buildings with overrun yards. Even the rocket car also was a problem; once on a local street the car, although powered by the original Chevrolet engine, frightened a horse that ran away, pulling a milk delivery wagon. 

Figure 30:
Photograph of Daniel Hungerford among papers
inside his house at 823 W. Second Street ca. 1964.

A mother on nearby Edgewood Drive told her son, “Don't go down there. They are crazy.” Of course, Richard M. Schaeffer said, he and his friends went, ca. 1951, as quickly as they could to see the Hungerfords' property. The boys investigated objects in the yard, even sitting in the aircraft, but they did not enter the house. The Hungerford brothers saw their trespassers and asked them to leave. While the brothers were polite, neither gruff nor fierce, parents worried about their children being near the Hungerfords.247 Another boy heeded his mother warning to stay away from the “crazy” Hungerfords. Still he peered the front yard of “wondrous” junk and ran “away before they caught us.”248
Protesting ca. 1959 in a letter to the editor the “fantastic salary” of $12,000 proposed for a new children's court judgeship, Daniel Hungerford wrote he could not support such a new burden on taxpayers. While he formerly proposed higher pay and shorter hours for public employees, those were days when he could “earn and spend money with the reckless abandon of a sailor.” Now he was to be “very fortunate if I can earn enough money in the next two or three months to pay my tax arrears and save my home for which I have labored these many years – 48 years to be exact.”249

Cliff Towner wrote that he had lost contact with Daniel Hungerford until the middle 1960s, when working as state editor for the Corning Leader, he heard from the Horseheads bureau chief that the Elmira police department had issued an all points bulletin for Hungerford to serve an eviction notice for non–payment of taxes. Hungerford himself wrote a few weeks later

...one of 10 houses to be smashed had to be the first to go. So left the hearing within 3 days to vacate. I told Russ [Russell] Barr – my plans. He said good – 2 hours before the 3 days expired on May 19 –1966 I ...got in Pontiac and drove to Troy, Pa at noon on the 13th several armed policemen – Mr. Fulkerson  – an ambulance with 2 men and Mrs. Fulkerson had a doctor recommend too that I should go. – I got my lunch in Troy, Pa. then went to Canton, Pa. got my supper – the hotel being closed. I drove back to Abba, Pa. and a big auto wrecking years. Slept in my car – next day I drove back to Canton got my breakfast looked around there until noon got my lunch drove back to the junk yard stayed all night in the car – the radio and Star Gazette and ...were trying to locate me. Then there were going to put on a 13 state coverage hoping to locate me – Bar got scared – got a hold of Raymond Hungerford [nephew] and came to locate me– and did after an all night search. Took me to Raymonds then reported me found and o.k. For some reason that can't get radio or TV in the Canton area. So nobody knew of my absence in Elmira.
       Then Barr came to Raymond and got me said I could go to 823 for 2 weeks but couldn't stay in the house night. I stayed 3 nights left all lights off on the 4th day I was sitting in the yard when several prowl cars, an ambulance – 2 people with the welfare, the constable came handed me an eviction notice – I thanked him –7–fully armed cops came into the yard– but wouldn't talk then a city truck 3 – men and a load of 3/4" plywood panels backed into the yard but wouldn't talk then the men removed the screen doors from the front of the house and begun nailing the panels. Every time nail was driven a star fell from the U.S. Flag Then the Black Flag of Piracy with the skull and cross bones appeared that I've seen ever since. You should see the people cringe when I tell them that.250 

Figure 31:
Eviction notice for Daniel Hungerford, May 14, 1966.

Towner in his newspaper tried to help the man he considered a friend. In a column published in the Leader under the title “Open Letter To A Missing Octogenarian”, Towner wrote

            Where are you, Dan Hungerford?
            Elmira city officials are worried about you because you didn't come home Thursday. An 80–year old man should be at home late at night, they feel.
            Did you know the concern was so great that a City Constable sat on your front porch from 12 Noon to midnight Thursday and planned on taking up his vigil there again today?
            You see Dan, as of noon Thursday, the home you've spent your life in is no longer your home. It is the exclusive property of the City of Elmira.
            The City Fathers say you failed to pay, $4,700 in back taxes.
            And the eviction notice signed Thursday morning is to enable the city to demolish your home, one of 10 such properties in the city to be demolished under a new “anti–blight” ordinance passed by the City Council.
            Corporation Council William Burns said today that all that is required is for the constable to tack the eviction notice to your screen door, but would rather have the notice served on you personally...if they can find you.
            But don't feel that because there is a guard at the door to prevent you from going on the premises that the City is completely heartless. The constable waiting for you is authorized to offer you assistance in finding new living quarters.
            You see Dan, your biggest “crime” wasn't so much neglecting to pay your taxes, but in reality, your “crime” has been being born ahead of your time.
            You've more or less become a living legend in Chemung County.
            At a time when people were debating the future of the then new “horseless carriage,” you were pioneering in the field of aeronautics.
            You collaborated in the building of one of the first airplanes in this part of the state, landing and taking off from the pasture beside your rambling home at 823 W. Second St.
            And by the time people had accepted the automobile as being here to stay, and began to discuss the pros and cons of flight, you already had moved into the then unheard field of rocketry.
            When people “oohed” and “aahed” at air shows when they saw your long, black, torpedo shaped “Rocket Car” roar down a runway with the rocket engines going full blast, you were calmly and logically discussing space travel.
            Your “crime” of being ahead of your time extended into other areas, also. Changes you advocated years ago for government were considered far too radical, but now many of these changes have taken place.
            How many times did you try, unsuccessfully, to win local or state political office on the American Labor ticket, and later on the Liberal Party platform?
            Over the years, your research and inventing has kept you from realizing the change taking place in your own neighborhood. When you were a young man, your family home was isolated, almost in the country west of Elmira, and just within the City limits.
            Thanks mainly to your efforts, the street was finally paved and new homes began to spring up around you; nice, comfortable, modern homes, peopled by persons who do not quire understand you Dan.
            The accumulation of 80 years of notes, books, magazines, newspapers, inventions, etc. mean nothing to them, nor the city, although it is the perusal of this accumulation that keeps you active and still far ahead of your time.
            So come back Dan. Let the constable do his unpleasant duty and go home.
            And don't despair, over the years, you've also accumulated a lot of friends...not too influential maybe, but friends who are quietly working behind the scenes right now to prove the law which has taken your home from you is unconstitutional.251

Towner later wrote the author,

       I ran at least two by–line stories on the front page with banner heds [sic] like “DAN HUNGERFORD, WHERE ARE YOU”.... I also ran a story with pics when Dan finally surfaced and was lucky enough to be at his house with a photographer when three or four police cars swooped up with lights and sirens blazing and officers with guns surrounded the defenseless and bewildered old man. We ran pictures of him sitting dejectedly on a tree stump with his head resting on a cane while he watched the police board up all his windows and doors and padlocked everything, refusing him entrance to retrieve any of his invaluable papers and plans.
       I later learned the reason behind the eviction. In the period since I had first met him, the area where he lived had grown from a rural to a suburban area with beautifully landscaped and expensive homes springing up all around the ramshackled Hungerford house. His new neighbors considered the house an eyesore and finally, his nearest neighbor, a city official who wanted the property in order to expand his own, had initiated the Writ of Eviction.252

The Leader for June 10, 1966, ran a headline reading “'80 Years Service And This Is My Reward” with a subordinate introduction above Towner's by–line noting, “4 Prowl Cars, Ambulance, Six Policemen Evict Dan Hungerford.” The city of Elmira, according to the Towner piece, claimed it had had possession of the house since December 30, 1965, for non–payment of $4,237.89. On hand on West Second Street also was John L. Sherman, who had been “acting as Dan's agent in his recent struggles with the City of Elmira to prevent the carrying out of an eviction notice.” The ambulance was available to Hungerford for a free ride to the county home in Breeseport, a service he declined and told Towner he likely would sleep in his car.

       A few minutes later, the bearded, homeless man, climbed wearily into his 1935 Buick, backed slowly out of the driveway and drove off...leaving his world behind.
       The workmen [boarding up the windows and doors] finished and the newsmen left. All that was left was one prowl car, stationed in front of the house...on guard against the return of the eighty–year–old evictee. 253

Peg Gallagher wrote that someone had stolen a steam engine from Hungerford's front porch, provoking him to keep a loaded shotgun by his side. It was this fact that caused the police before eviction to warn “neighbors to stay away. But Hungerford left quietly.”254 One wonders if this engine might have been the model Hungerford built in his early years. A Hungerford relative noted, “Dan built when he was very young, still a boy I believe, it should be around somewhere. It was one of his very first inventions.” 255 Certainly such a piece would have meant much to Hungerford and inspired him to protect his other possessions.

Jon Elan Steen wrote that “there was a social worker or someone connected with the city that had a lot of involvement with Dan at the end (got him out of the house and into a ‘more suitable place'.) I think his name was Barr...”256 Later, Elan Steen added, ‘ I had no occasion to see uncle Dan the last few years of his life and only casual chit chat about Mr. Barr came my way. Uncle Dan had been quite ill for a number of years, and it is reasonable that one or more of his neighbors called the Health Dept. to have him taken care of.” 257

Perhaps Elan Steen thought James E. Barr was a social worker involved with Hungerford. In August 1992 Barr noted he was employed from 1964 to 1991 by the county health department as director of environmental health, but he was not a social worker. “My factual recall of Hungerford Brothers is essentially nil....Daniel or both brothers may have become reclusive and the home may have created public health problems thus the involvement of the Health Department. The underlining is to emphasize that this vague feeling is speculative.”258

The Elmira Star Gazette for June 10, 1966 mentioned a different man named Barr, Hungerford's friend Russell Barr (1913–1980) of 315 E. Center Street,259 who approached the Hungerford house after the eviction. Told by police officer Vincent Glynn that he was trespassing, Barr replied that he had power of attorney from Hungerford and that he, Barr, “was to see to Hungerford's well–being.” Glynn told Barr he had no authority to “accept such papers” and advised him to go to police headquarters. The newspaper also noted that city manager Carl F. Sanford said the house had become city property some time back. “Hungerford disappeared for some time subsequent to that, and had gone to Pennsylvania, said Sanford.” Of Barr, Hungerford said he was “HELL ON POLITICS—WAS A PROMOTER OF PARKING METERS—MET SO MUCH—MANY GRAFTERS IN PUBLIC OFFICE –HE WONT [SIC] EVEN VOTE. HE HAD TWENTY YEARS IN LOCAL POLITICS—AS WARD HEALER [sic]–––HE'S COMPLETELY DISGUSTED—AND WARNED ME—NOT TO INVOLVE HIM IN MY POLITICAL MOVES. BARR—IS A GOOD MAN.”260
In addition to Russell Barr, John Sherman sought to assist Hungerford during the period of his eviction. Hungerford described the latter aide as a “6 foot 3 – former world war 2 –commando –chief says he had 800 men under him”.261 Hungerford also said Sherman was a writer. “AT PRESENT [January 1967] BOMBARDING U.THANT WITH ONE AND TWO MISSOLES [sic] A DAY.” 262 Sherman did not drive in Elmira, but moved around the city on a pedal–powered tricycle. In June 1966, Sherman, on behalf of Hungerford, read Hungerford's statement to the city council claiming that the “invasion of my privacy and health was, and is, at least unconstitutional....” He demanded the “cessation of the attempted stealing” of his property.263

If there was a villain in Hungerford's eyes, it was “ATTY.W D. BURNS IS OUR CITY ATTY. LIVES SECOND HOUSE WEST OF MINE – A REPUBLICAN”.264

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After the eviction, Sherman and Barr provided assistance to Hungerford at a two–room apartment at 312 E. Third Street. Hungerford toward the end of 1966 said he was relying on a $54 monthly welfare check with his $50 rent paid in addition. Sherman, wrote Hungerford, “helps me every day helps me change the bandages on my arm and leg.” He also went to the house on Second Street where he salvaged “Floyd's electric clock” and a set of musical bones, which, sadly Hungerford could no longer play “because of my arm.”265 Sekella called Sherman a “helpful friend” to Hungerford.266

Other Hungerford friends included the Sekella family. Even with Steven Sekella stationed in Germany, his parents gave Hungerford meals at their house and delivered food to the East Third Street apartment. They consulted a lawyer to see if the Hungerford house could be reclaimed, but were told it was too late. Steven Sekella's wife, Jacki Lovell, also helped. According to Sekella, “You couldn't help but like the guy.”267

Edwin French and Hungerford were long time friends who spoke often. George Mapes has observed that French and Hungerford “socialized occasionally with the conversation usually entwining socialist doctrines.”268 Hungerford wrote in a November 1948 letter to the New York Times, “I and a very close political friend of mine – one Edwin S. [sic] French – presented Mr. [Henry A.] Wallace's name before local Elmira, of the American Labor Party as one choice for standard bearer....” 269

In an extensive, hand–written, sixteen–page letter to “Ed & Helen” (Erwin and Helen French) dated August 26, 1966, Hungerford explained his eviction as well as much of his family history. A January 1967 letter identified helpful witnesses including “Mr. & Mrs. Erwin D. French – 50 Union Street – Gloversville.” 270

Among the Hungerford papers is a note from “Ed” along with a draft of letter “to the Mayor, S. G. [Star–Gazette] and Telegram [Sunday Telegram].” The writer, one assumes Erwin French signing as Ed, said the eviction had reverberations beyond Elmira given Hungerford's prominence. The writer also added in his note that it was too bad that “Marshall Bush is not there and said

       I was not surprised, in fact, I warned Dan and his brother ten years ago. I said: “sell and get out of Elmira” I knew then that the (I call them) “Vultures” would, some day, came in and take all that they had. And it happened.
       Again, I say Dan should have paid his tax, but it seems, after his mother died, he neglected every thing – except his invention.271

Hungerford worked diligently but futilely at repossessing his house. At the Chemung County Fair in August 1966 he spoke with Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a conference documented by a photograph in the Corning Leader. Hungerford had sent Rockefeller a telegram declaring the governor the “Court of Last Resort”. Rockefeller greeted Hungerford with, “Well, Mr. Hungerford, I understand you have a tough problem.” The governor also noted, “I'm aware of your contributions in the fields of aviation, space and other fields.” Rockefeller indicated there might be a solution in new state law giving tax relief to the elderly, and he asked his legal counsel, Robert Douglas, to investigate the eviction matter. Douglas subsequently spoke with the Elmira mayor, Howard H. Kimball, Jr. Later John Sherman, friend and advisor to Hungerford, said, “Dan really thinks there's a chance now. He's thrilled at the compassion shown one old man by the governor.”272

Hungerford subsequently sent a letter to Rockefeller asking if there might be “some word you can give me concerning this problem?” Hungerford alluded to Rockefeller's offer to “take a good look at the conditions leading up to that Foreclosure...I am striving to clean the property up, even now, though the City Of [sic] Elmira claims title....”273 In another letter, Hungerford suggested to Rockefeller that if the latter could not help him, then Hungerford's vote in the gubernatorial election might go to his opponent.274 Hungerford subsequently noted that he had a letter from Alton G. Marshall, “executive officer to the governor”, saying in “effect the gov. could do nothing for me––.”275

In August 1966 Hungerford wrote to former Elmira mayor Edward A. Mooers, who had assisted him in the past, but Mooers replied to Hungerford that he was “skeptical” of any success in reclaiming the Second Street house.276

In January 1967 Hungerford wrote at Russell Barr's suggestion to Robert John McIntosh, a lawyer in Port Huron, regarding Hungerford legal problems “that possibly you or some one – you might suggest – might take my case.” Hungerford said he planned a lawsuit against the Elmira Water Board and the city for an injury suffered while on the job there “several years ago – resulting in partial loss of my legs and right arm – osteomyelitis set in – I was in bed thru the winter of 1953—54...been on crutches ever since...the lawyers won't touch my case –– fear of the politicians—the city is trying to get twelve to fourteen million dollars for urban renewel [sic].”277 One might note that osteomyelitis, in fact, can follow physical injury to a bone.278

In August 1966 Hungerford wrote to friends that he was thinking of going to New York City because he had an “address of some Black Power (Negro) lawyers...may engage one to come to Elmira. That will put a different color on the subject [eviction]. [And] I'll sue the city for a quarter million dollars, result of an injury sustained while working for the Elmira Water Board Filter Plant 10 or 12 years ago. Partial loss of my right arm and left leg.” 279

Hungerford also wrote of his on–the–job injury in 1953 to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. Hungerford said that he had been on crutches ever since the accident. Now he wanted to sue the city “FOR ENOUGH TO MAKE THE CASE WORTH WHILE. IN THE VICINITY OF TWO MILLION DOLLARS.” From Powell, Hungerford sought “ATTORNEYS OF YOUR RACE AND CHOOSING, TO CONDUCT MY CASE AND WHO CAN FINANCE THEM SELVES. I WAS OBLIGED TO GO ON CH. [Chemung] CO. RELIEF LAST YEAR.”280

Why Hungerford thought a black attorney would be superior to a white is not clear, but there was no doubt in his mind that he needed a black lawyer. In November 1966 he contacted Harry C. Bright in Winston–Salem, North Carolina, after receiving a Bright business card from a black photographer in Elmira. To Bright, Hungerford wrote, the Elmira politicians were so taken with the offer of federal urban renewal money that the local lawyers were “so cowed they dare not say their souls are their own...” Again Hungerford mentioned two million dollars, for “ANY THING LESS THAN EARTHQUAKE WONT [sic] BUDGE THIS COMMUNITY.” He continued by saying that his claim was based on an informal contract he had before his injury to develop a tool for a wine company in Hammondsport. He worked at the invention again in the early 1960s until he had a “RELAPSE OF MY CONDITION”. He calculated that when “PUT ON THE MARKET [the invention] IS WORTH, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS”.  Receiving no reply from Bright, Hungerford wrote again in February 1967, “WE DON'T CONSIDER SILENCE – A POLITE NEGATIVE—IN A MATTER OF SO GREAT IMPORTANCE ...”281

In December 1966 Hungerford wrote to Thomas A. Banfield, Horseheads village manager, that “ NO TOM– I CANT ADJUST TO MY PRESRENT SITUATION? I HAVE WORK TO DO AND ALL MY TOOLS, DRAWINGS, MATERIALS, ARE SEALED AWAY FROM ME IN OUR OLD HOMESTEAD....RUSS. BARR AND JOHN SHERMAN, ARE HELPING US GET BACK. ...THE HOUSE IS STILL STANDING. CREDIT, BARR AND SHERMAN.”282

I thought for many years that almost all of the Hungerford material record was lost with the demolition of the house on West Second Street. However, it appears that some materials were salvaged. H. Steven Sekella recalled a truck at the house almost every day after the eviction. Hungerford wrote to Emory Botsford, “Barr. [sic] Is working at 823 W. 2nd. Putting the stuff in boxes and arranging same so we can get to the things as we need them, or have to move them quick. I don't as rule admit the latter. It induces negative suggestion. I have and intend to emphasize the positive. That gives me fighting strength.”283 Hungerford also noted elsewhere that “John Sherman has a key” to the house.284 Linda Hungerford Lathrop, William Hungerford's granddaughter, has noted that for a time after his eviction, Hungerford lived in a “utility apartment attached to our home in Jobs Corners” (Pennsylvania). “This is probably why we had many of his photos, etc.” She added that her father, Arthur R. Hungerford, and his sister, Vivian H. Wells, “had many of photos and other items stowed away.”285

Jon Elan Steen noted that other Hungerford family members had not responded to his request for information about the rocket car and its builders. “My mother's brothers and sisters...rather resented the way the city ransacked the house and then demolished it....I suspect my one aunt and uncle were willing to pay the back taxes and I suspect they wanted to renovate the house and keep it in the family....My mother never got anything out of the whole deal, well $40 or so I guess. My grandfather [William Hungerford] owned as much of that house as any of the others, and he paid the taxes for quite a number of years, even though he did not live there.” Steen added, “...my father [Steven Viele] was always helping with money, etc. The stories in the news media made the family out to be....[sic] what ever. Uncle Dan was stubborn but not forsaken by the family.”286

In 1994 Tom Page quoted Cliff Towner in the Star–Gazette, “The last time I saw Dan was on the lower Eastside of Elmira where he was living in a single room in a tenement building and looked like the walking dead. He died shortly after that. It was a helluva way for Elmira to treat one of its own.”287

In April 1967 Hungerford was a patient in the Arnot–Ogden Hospital. Sekella, on leave in Elmira, explained hospital administration that “Dan had no family who would visit.” So Sekella chatted with Hungerford on April 8; Hungerford died the next day.288

Daniel and Floyd Hungerford were buried in unmarked graves at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira. The Hungerford ten by twelve foot plot had been purchased for $105 by Jennie H. Badger, when their mother Mary Hungerford died in 1944.289

In 2005 Sekella, who remained loyal and generous, arranged for a monument marking the Hungerford brothers' final resting places.290 Interestingly, the inscription includes the title of Marvin's seminal article, “The Wizards of West Second Street” as well as a reference to the Automobile Quarterly volume, including page number, so that cemetery passers–by can find the explanation for the “Wizards” reference.291 

Figure 32: In 2005 H. Steven Sekella purchased a monument for the previously unmarked Daniel and Floyd Hungerford graves at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira. On the stone the birthdates have been reversed. "Wizards of West Second Street" identifies Keith Marvin's 1965 Automobile Quarterly article.

Preservation of the Rocket Car and Other Hungerford Artifacts

In 1980, after Hodge's death, I learned of the rocket car in the Capital District of New York. I arranged to borrow the vehicle from Daniel Dwyer for a State Museum exhibit of various power sources such as electric motors and steam engines. On a short loan basis then, Shirley Lois “The Moon Girl” made its first appearance at the Museum.

In 1985 Marvin spotted the car outside a garage in Menands. He wrote to Dwyer to ask about the vehicle, and Dwyer answered that the car “is presently owned by me and Roger Hodge [Ralph's son], although Roger apparently has fallen on hard times and I have not heard from him recently.”

The Car was stored at Menands Auto Sales and the place was rented by the owner and the car was moved outside by the lessees without my knowledge. The Car now has been removed and is presently located in a garage in the City of Watervliet.
I would be interested in talking to you concerning the Car and its possibilities.292

Dwyer wrote in 1992,

       The rocket car was turned over to Ralph Hodge in 1965. I was with Ralph when this transaction occurred. Dan Hungerford, at that time, was receiving public assistance. Ralph Hodge transported the car from Elmira to Cohoes, New York, where it was refurbished from an extremely deteriorated condition. Ralph, over the years, had the car appear in various exhibitions in this area. I was responsible for all legal work and promotions.
       Ralph passed away in 1979 and I took control of the car and from 1979 to date, I have placed it with various groups for display including a parade in Troy, New York and on display at a car dealership, Charlie Sirigiano's.
       For the last few years, it has been housed in a garage in Watervliet, New York.293

Dwyer kept the car until presenting it in 1992, shortly before his own death, to the State Museum.294

break

In 2004 Marvin donated to the State Museum Hungerford ephemera he had received decades earlier. These included the rocket–powered soldering iron, photographs, miscellaneous printed material and letters from Hungerford to Marvin.

The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, as mentioned above, has three Hungerford–built aircraft engines, a Curtiss JN–4D airplane, a Curtiss Oriole airplane, “a fuselage for another Curtiss JN and a Curtiss OX–5 engine used by Dan.”295 The Curtiss Museum also has two pieces of the original body cover for the rocket car with Shirley Lois “The Moon Girl” inscriptions on them. Correspondence between Otto P. Kohl, curator at the Curtiss Museum and John L. Sherman on Daniel Hungerford's behalf in 1966, mention $1,500 had been paid for an initial lot of materials; one assumes the aircraft engines and other objects in 1961. In the summer of 1966 negotiations were under way for a second lot of artifacts, for which Hungerford asked $520 and Kohl offered $250–$300. Sherman responded that

I have personally received an offer, by a locally interested group of citizens who may carefully consider the purchase of all of Dan's historical things, his home, and land, with the avowed intent of establishing a museum right there.  Of course I am insisting that Dan be provided living space on the premises, with duties only of studying, drawing, and talking about the things of science and other skills which he can make so interesting. Perhaps, and I only say perhaps, because I do not know of any other proposed plans of your group, this information may be of some value to you. Dan would fit in very well in those proper surroundings.296

Stationed in Germany, Sekella, too, had been concerned about the Hungerfords' material legacy. He wrote to Daniel Hungerford in an undated letter

When we were last together we talked about the unpleasant subject of what might happen to your experiments, notes and ideas in event some misfortune should befall you. I hope you have taken steps to prevent the loss of these things, especially the project we discussed [probably the electro–magnetic space drive]. I have heard that you found your model and that it poses many interesting possibilities. I wish now we both could explore these possibilities and hope we can eventually do so in the near future. Yet I worry that it may be lost or destroyed by some unknowing person if something happens to you. I wish I could see you & the model. Oh well by 17 months my curiosity will only make it a greater event.297

Cleoral Lovell, Sekella's mother–in–law noted in late 1967 that his,

young son–in–law was one of his protégés during the last few years of his life. Because of son–in–law's mechanical talent, Dan took him under his wing. He even sold him some of his treasured old cars and engines, permitting him to work out part of the sale price in re–roofing the building in which they were stored.298

Among the items received by Sekella include a race car utilizing a Henderson motorcycle engine, a Henderson engine modified for use an airplane, a 1935 Plymouth automobile, a 1934 Terraplane automobile, and a shotgun. Receipts received by payments from (then wife) Jacki Sekella, while Steven was in Germany. Totals reached $270 July 1964 through March 1965 for “cars & parts”, including “Henderson racecar” and “1934 Terraplane sedan”. In 2009, Sekella retained the Henderson and Plymouth cars as well as a Henderson engine.299

 

Remembering Daniel and Floyd Hungerford

In 1965 Marvin  thought the “tragedy of the Hungerford dream was the fact that a public only too eager to follow land rocketry and interplanetary travel in comic strips and over the airwaves was not yet ready to accept it as a reality.” But Daniel Hungerford, then a “handsome seventy–nine–year–old gentleman with bright eyes and a black beard, sits in the house on West Second Street reading profusely, keeping a watchful eye on the progress of satellites and other guided missiles, harboring no regret that he had been one of the unsung pioneers in the field of rocketry.”300

Recalling her father and uncle, Shirley Hyde wrote

       Dan and Floyd were maligned and endured ridicule from others who, in retrospect, were “pretty small potatoes” in the scheme of things as they are today. When the first walk on the moon occurred, I had a phone call from a friend in Houston who felt compelled to tell me what a pity it was that Dan could not have lived to see his dreams come true.301

The Elmira Star–Gazette reported Daniel Hungerford death after a week's hospitalization.  The newspaper also commented that Daniel and Floyd had purchased their first airplane for $200 before rebuilding it. “In 1929 they built a rocket car which Hungerford claimed would go 70 miles per hour on a good road. The biggest problem, the inventor once said, was that it took a gallon of regular gasoline to go two miles.... [Daniel] Hungerford also was interested in astronomy.  In the 1930s he lectured to science groups at Elmira College and Cornell University and other institutions.  He believed then in space travel then, but was looked on as a dreamer.”302 

Jon Elan Steen wrote about Daniel Hungerford's later years

Quite eccentric...and most people considered him to be just a little bit crazy. I can remember the old car that he drove, and the back seat was loaded with the daily news papers clear to the roof. Solid newspapers door to door. The house was almost as bad, except the papers only went up about 4 or 5 feet deep and there were paths here and there about the house....I do know there was a stack of uncle Dan's correspondence and notes in the House. However as far as I know they were bulldozed in with the house after Uncle Dan's death. I saw some of the letters he had received from various people all around the world. It was a shame, because I suspect some of the letters had come from very prominent people interested in jets and rockets etc. and other areas of aeronautics. He may have been acquainted with Glen [sic] Curtis [sic] although I could not say for sure. The city of Elmira condemned the house and it was demolished about 20 years ago, and as far as I know what ever notes he may have had made or theories he may have developed were in that house....I doubt the city of Elmira made any effort to sort through any of the contents.303

While the Hungerfords died in poverty, they did not pass unknown in Elmira or among historians elsewhere. Erwin French, Daniel Hungerford's friend, forwarded a letter, probably to the Star–Gazette, from Paul E. Garber, senior curator and historian at the Smithsonian Institution. According to French, Garber noted the “learning of the death of Dan Hungerford” and remembered “his visit with you to the museum sixteen years ago” (ca. 1951). Garber said

       Dan Hungerford has not been forgotten by this museum. We have had a file folder with his name upon it in our biographical section for a number of years, but I do not regret that...his story and accomplishments are not completely described in our file.
       Will you help me make it? Are there members of his family from whom we might...his biographical record of his accomplishments in aero...? Would they have records that would augment our files?

French added his own comment:

       Thus it can be seen that only a few months after his death, historians in the field of aeronautics are at work. This will undoubtedly go on. Then when one picks up an encyclopedia ..., he will find the names of Dan and Floyd Hunderford [sic], Elmira, N.Y.
       They help to achieve this goal would, I am certain, be appreciated by Mr. Garber to whom it will forward information.304

 

French wrote to Garber on December 30, 1967 responding to Garber's letter of August 29, 1967. With a few clips, French said little more information “about my good friend, Dan Hungerford.” While there were no additions from those “who might have information as to his life history” who knew about Hungerford, French added,

       Dan was an odd person; had a philosophy that death would never come to him and any one who approached him upon the subject was due for a lecture. And, except for his brother Floyd, he was never close to the family. I do not think any of his nephews know any more of his history than I.
       I give you a few facts as I know them He was born in Pine City, [sic] just outside Elmira; attended rural school; moved to Elmira after his father died; learned the machinist trade; about 1912 built a garage, employing twelve men. At one time was very active in aviation. He built the first airport in Chemung County and it was he, who conceived the idea (now Harris Hill) as a potential airport, however, his plan never materialized, but eventually become the “Glider Capital”. Always independent, he never worked for any company after he left the shop where he learned his trade.
       While the Rocket Car was his greatest achievement, he was always at work on other inventions. In 1910, the electric–controled [sic] thermostat to be used on coal burning furnaces. Then the combination brake pedal–gas and brake on one unit. This he used on his own car, traveling to Rochester, Buffalo, etc. Auto mfg. not interested. His more recent work was in developing a stapler, used for tying of grape vines.
       Dan's knowledge of machinery was known far and wide – working on surveyor instruments to the huge cutting knives on junk yards.
While all the above has no bearing upon aeronautics, never the less it does show his active life....
            I mighty add, before closing, that he donated many items to the Curtiss Museum at Hammondsport.305

Emory L. Johnson of Horseheads in 1967 wrote he had been a Hungerford friend and he had “entrusted some photos, just before he [Hungerford] passed away.” In addition, Johnson said he “would like very much to have Dan be recognized for his contributions to science. He was a great man, warm and sincere.”306

In response to a Hungerford article he had seen in the Australian Restored Cars magazine, Thomas Jack Carpenter of Big Flats wrote of visiting the Hungerford brothers in 1960.

They lived in a two story ramshackle old house in [a] neighborhood of nice homes. The front yard was grown up with weeds and there were several cars from the 1930s in various states of disrepair. A knock on the door was answered by one of the brothers who introduced me to the other. They were in their seventies and Dan had a scraggly beard. As I recall, Dan had been married. Floyd was a bachelor but they now lived there alone. I told them what I wanted [an antique car to restore] and the[y] said the cars were for sale (I later learned the city authorities were after them for back taxes). They did not have any early cars which was my main interest. Dan did most of the talking and told me they did not have much interest in cars but were mainly interested in airplanes and rockets. Cal Rodgers piloted the first airplane across America in 1912 in flights of 50 to 100 miles a day. He landed in a field across from Hungerford's [sic] house and they worked on his airplane.
            Over the years the Hungerfords had made the acquaintance of many, if not all, of the early pioneers of flight. In the 1960s many of these people occupied high level positions in the US Air Force and The National Air and Space Agency. The Hungerfords were corresponding regularly with these people giving them their ideas on space related problems. Dan showed me a drawing he had sent to a high level general of his approach to the problem of re–entry of a space vehicle into the atmosphere. His approach used sapphire (which has a high melting point) to combat the high temperatures the nose cone is subjected to on re–entry.
            There were technical journals and magazines stacked from floor to ceiling and on all the flat surfaces in the house. There was literally a path through these to go through the house. On my many visits I learned not to go in the house on a cold day when they had the heat on–it was what we would call stout. I told a couple of my flea market friends about the Hungerfords and they bought 3 trailer loads of parts and literature from them. They told me that the upstairs was also stacked full of magazines and there was an inch of dust in the bathtub!
            Out back of the house was a small machine shop/garage. The individual tools were powered from overhead pulleys with belts. There were no cars but a 4 cylinder Henderson Motorcycle and a complete World War I Curtiss Jenny airplane. I was raising a family and building a house so did not have any money available to buy any of the items. In retrospect, I should have mortgaged the house and bought it all. The airplane subsequently went to the Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY where it is currently on display. Their [Hungerford] rotating aero engine...is also on display there.
            My involvement with the brothers ended with my transfer to California in 1964. When I returned a few years later, the brothers had passed on and their property had been auctioned off for taxes. A modern house now stands on the site. The Rocket Car was on display for period of time at a museum in Elmira, a couple of years ago.
            To say the least, they were an interesting pair and were certainly ahead of their time. It was impressive what they had learned thru self education.307

Carpenter followed that letter with another to the author of the article, Igor Spajic, in which Carpenter said on a recent visit to the Curtiss Museum he had noted an OX–5 (Jenny) motor credited to a Hungerford brothers donation. Carpenter also noted that the friend who had told me about the Hungerford cache of old stuff said that in 1957, “there was a knock at the door one nite... and upon answering he found Dan there. He had come over to tell my friend that he could see Sputnik which showed up by reflected light against the dark sky.” 308

Eva C. Taylor, in the December 1974 Chemung Historical Journal, said Daniel Hungerford, the leader of the two–brother team, was “passionately interested in the subject of rocketry.” Taylor noted that “In most of Dan's projects he was helped by his brother Floyd, but Dan was the leader and the spokesman, and got all the publicity – both credit and blame as the case might be.”

Hungerford was “a facile speaker and used words and concepts that many people of his time thought belonged only to science fiction.” In lectures at Elmira College and Cornell University, there were “no doubt...both skeptics and believers in his audiences.”


In Elmira Dan was the most controversial figure of his time. Some people called him a crackpot, others thought of him as a scientist, still others called him a genius. He was often dismissed as a dreamer but no one could call him idle as dreamers sometimes are.309

A sincere and wised appreciation of Daniel Hungerford from the Elmira Star–Gazette in 1967 concluded,

       As a young man he read deeply of socialism and it was his philosophy through life.
       Many of the ideas he espoused – to the amusement of some with whom he discussed them – have become permanent fixtures in the American system.
       Dan Hungerford was the mildest, most reasonable of men. He never argued, never lost his temper with those who disagreed with him, never closed his ears to their views. Sometimes these views were unflattering. That didn't ruffle Dan – at least he never took offense. He never uttered an angry word or vulgar one.
       It was sad to see him age and grow crippled, eventually to depend on crutches to get around.
       It was sad to see him lose his home because he couldn't pay the taxes.
       And it's sad to realize that he often saw possibilities in ideas that others couldn't see. And because they couldn't, they were not content to regard him as a dreamer (which he was) but belittle him – which he didn't deserve.310


223 Daniel D. Hungerford to William E. Dion, August 31, 1961.

224 Keith Marvin, b.1924–2009.

225 Times Union (Albany), June 24, 2009; Old Cars Weekly, August 8, 2009.

226 Interestingly, it appears that Marvin planned to share his payment for the “Wizards” article. He wrote to Hungerford on July 12, 1964, “Always remember, although (and we'll presume the magazine  will accept ‘THE WIZARDS...”) as we both need the money, my basic precept in this article is to put the great man in the place I've felt he belongs, since I first met him. Therefore, do please feel free to make any suggestions and I'll take if from there when I re–write....”

227 Daniel D. Hungerford to Keith Marvin, May 18, 1964. Harry W. Bull [sic] “gained international attention in the spring of 1930 by his experiments with a rocket sled.” He used Syracuse University facilities to experiment with liquid fuels, according to Charles G. Philp, Stratosphere and Rocket Flight (London, 1935), p.5. The father, Horace P. Bull (1878?–1945), was managing editor of the Post–Standard.

228 Keith Marvin, “Unique Rocket Car Will Be Shown At Arsenal Show”, (Troy) Times Record, undated (1965) newspaper clipping.

229 See 1930 federal census and various city directories.

230 Jim Dix, “Follow Up on the Rocket Car”, Klaxon, February 1980.

231 Marvin, “Misguided Missile”.

232 Old Cars Weekly News & Marketplace, July 21, 1994. H. Steven Sekella in a telephone conversation with the author on November 3, 2008, said there was no shotgun as alleged in newspaper stories. The firearms Daniel Hungerford had in his house were an “old” .22 octagon–barrel rifle (probably a Winchester) and an “old” single–shot Stevens .22. These were the “notorious guns” confiscated by the Elmira police. Sekella added that he and Hungerford subsequently retrieved the arms. Sekella noted, also, that he fired the Stevens once which blew back, hitting him in the head.

233 Daniel D. Hungerford to Keith Marvin, May 20, 1964.

234 Daniel D. Hungerford to Keith Marvin, May 29, 1964.

235 Keith Marvin to Daniel D. Hungerford, May 19, 1964.

236 Daniel D. Hungerford to Keith Marvin , May 22, 1964. 

237 Keith Marvin to Daniel D. Hungerford, June 3, 1964. On May 29, Marvin wrote, “As far as the possibility of exhibiting the car at Big Flats goes, I would like to discuss this with you  before you make any commitment....I am thinking of other possibilities by which more money might be realized than simply exhibiting the car for firemen's affair. I think the less said the better until I can talk with you....”

238 Keith Marvin to Daniel D. Hungerford, July 12, 1964.

239 August 3, 1964.

240 Geoffrey N. Stein recalled Keith Marvin mentioning $10,000 in an undated conversation. 

241 Daniel D. Hungerford to Keith Marvin, June 25, 1964.

242 Hungerford to Marvin, August 28, 1964.  The present author is not familiar with “Miss Yerman.” Perhaps Hungerford had Yevon Spiegelberg in mind.

243 Actually the car was shown at the Arsenal on May 15, 1965. It appears (see above) that Daniel Hungerford saw the car one more time on a trip east he made in 1966.

244 Daniel D. Hungerford to J. E. Botsford, October 25, 1966.  Only the first page of a copied letter is available to the author.

245 Daniel D. Hungerford to Henry G. Budd, September 28, 1966.

246 Daniel D. Hungerford to H. Steven Sekella, October 2, 1966.

247 Richard M. Schaeffer by telephone to Geoffrey Stein, August 31, 2009. Schaeffer, who as a child (born 1939) lived at Edgewood Drive, remembers the flight of the horse, his mother telling him to stay away from the “crazy” Hungerfords, and his sneaked trips to the West Second Street property.

248 James V. Eichorn Email to Geoffrey N. Stein, September 16, 2009. 

249 Undated clip probably from the Star–Gazette. If Hungerford calculated from the year he and his family moved to the Second Street house, 1911, the letter would date from 1959.

250 Daniel D. Hungerford to “Ed & Helen” (Erwin D. and Helen French), August 26, 1966. Earlier in his letter, Hungerford noted that “Fulkerson – and a man  used to be deputy sherrif [sic] in Pennsylvania – knows more about ...constitutional rights then the men that wrote them came in just in time to screw the works by helping the welfare –with his testimony....”

251 May 27, 1966

252 Cliff R. Towner to Geoffrey N. Stein, November 22, 1994.

253 Hungerford wrote to his friend H. Steven Sekella, October 2, 1966, “they were going to take me to the county house at Breeseport, NY before this a couple weeks they came for me – I got into old Pont. [Pontiac] and drove – to Pennsylvania...left them standing twiddling their thumbs and looking – a Friend of mine He was there and told me about it when I came back.”

254 Peg Gallagher, “Moonstruck”, New York Alive, March/April 1986, p. 52.

255 The author notes, July 25, 1980, three borrowed photographs included “Dan Hungerford with a steam engine model and two boys”. While the author understood the photos were borrowed by John and Joan Schatz, Joan Hungerford Schatz said in the early 2009, “not Joan, perhaps Linda Lathrop? I don't recall ever having known this information that you credit me with.”

256 Jon Elan Steen to Geoffrey Stein, July 30, 1992.

257 Jon Elan Steen to Geoffrey N. Stein, August 14, 1992. 

258 Jim [sic] Barr, to Geoffrey N. Stein,  undated (August 1992),

259 Russell Barr appears in the 1936 city directory as a Thatcher [glass] Manufacturing Company employee residing on Grand Central Avenue. In 1949 he was  an employee of the Dual Parking Meter Company. An obituary in the Star Gazette reported, for June 16, 1980, that Barr had “formerly owned and operated Barr Sales and Service.” H. Steven Sekella told the author Barr was “a character”. He had a “lot of stuff” outside his house as did the Hungerfords, but it was “not as good”.

260 Daniel D. Hungerford to Robert John McIntosh, January 5, 1967.

261 Daniel D. Hungerford to Harry Steven Sekella, October 2, 1966.

262 Daniel D. Hungerford to Robert John McIntosh, January 5, 1967.

263 Quoted in the Leader, June 8, 1966.

264 Daniel D. Hungerford to Robert John McIntosh, January 5, 1967.

265 Daniel D. Hungerford to “Ed & Helen”, August 26, 1966.

266 H. Steven Sekella in telephone conversation with the author, November 3, 2008. Sekella added that all of the Hungerford brothers' friends were serious about their endeavors as well as loyal. There were “no crackpots in the bunch.”

267 H. Steven Sekella in telephone conversation with the author, November 3, 2008.  Sekella noted also that Daniel Hungerford liked lemon sodas from the Dairy Queen drive–in restaurant on Lake Street and hot dogs from the M&M restaurant on Baldwin Street.

268 George Mapes to Geoffrey Stein, October 25, 2009. Mapes added French was a encyclopedia salesman. “I lost contact with the French family around 1945/6.”

269 Daniel D. Hungerford to the New York Times, November 7, 1948.

270 The recipient was Robert John McIntosh of Port Huron, Michigan.

271 One assumes this was Marshall Bush, the former Socialist Party colleague. In January 1967, Hungerford noted “Mr. & Mrs. E. Marshall Bush” lived at 16 Cornell Avenue in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

272 Leader, August 17, 1966.

273 October 20, 1966. Hungerford's typed letter is in lower case font (unlike most Hungerford's all–capitalized letters). This letter was noted by Hungerford in pen “My Copy by John Sherman”.

274 The letter is dated October 18, 1966. In the text, Hungerford notes, “Several weeks ago a member of our city council called on me and wanted to know if I had received a letter relative [to] our talk at Chemung County Fair last August [.] I told him no [.] He said a letter from you arrived at the council. Said letter...apparently was suppressed. Our local press has remained silent on all my problems. Why? The Corning, N.Y. Leader has given me good coverage all thru my troubles. For whom Governor Rockefeller do you recomend [sic] I cast my ballot on Nov. 8 [sic] I have but one.”

275 Daniel D. Hungerford to Robert John McIntosh, January 5, 1967.

276 Daniel D. Hungerford to “Ed & Helen”, August 26, 1966. The author has access only to an incomplete copy of this letter. The pages present give no definite information about anything Mooers might have offered to do.

277 Daniel D. Hungerford to Robert John McIntosh, January 5, 1967. Several pages of names and addresses are appended to the letter apparently as character references. Among them are a reference to the author, to wit: “Mr. & Mrs. Aaron Stein  & Sons – 426 W 1st St. Elmira, N.Y.” The author's father, Aaron, was in the scrap metal business in Elmira. Daniel Hungerford, his brother Floyd and their acquaintances frequented the scrap yard. The names of other scrap dealers also are found on the list.
     In 1958, Daniel Hungerford was involved as a passenger in an automobile at Endwell. He “complained of pains in the back and left leg but that neither [injured individuals] required immediate medical attention.” The driver of the car in which Hungerford sat was William Ward, age 41, of Elmira. See the Binghamton Press, April 22, 1958.

278 For a description of the pathology of osteomyelitis see emedicine.com/emerg/topic 349.

279 Daniel D. Hungerford to “Ed & Helen”, August 26, 1966.

280 October 19, 1966.

281 Daniel D. Hungeford to Harry O. Bright, November 7, 1966 and February 7, 1967.  Bright also was the surname of several Elmirans in the 1960s; perhaps there was a connection to Harry Bright in North Carolina.

282 Daniel D. Hungerford to Thomas A. Banfield, December 9, 1966. The capitalization is in the original. As explanation of the “our” and “us” pronouns, Hungerford wrote, “MARVIN, IN HIS STORY SAID – I ABSORBED, MY LATE BROTHER FLOYD S. SPIRIT, SO I HAVE BEEN GOING ALONG WITH THE THEORY, HENCE THE WE–––.”

283 Daniel D. Hungerford to J. E. Botsford, October 23, 1966.

284 Daniel D. Hungerford to H. Steven Sekella, October 2, 1966.

285 Linda Lathrop to Geoffrey Stein via email, September 29, 2008. 

286 Jon Elan Steen to Geoffrey Stein, August 24, 1992.

287 September 11, 1994. Peg Gallagher, writing in the Elmira Sunday Telegram, February 3, 1980, reported that at his death, Hungerford's home was 312 E. Third Street.

288 H. Steven Sekella to Geoffrey Stein via telephone, September 25, 2008.

289 Woodlawn Cemetery records, Elmira, New York.

290 Sekella by telephone to Geoffrey Stein, September 2008.

291 The contract between Sekella and the George E. Hoare Memorial Company, Inc., called for a Barre gray granite block with a polished face. The cost was $1,183. It should be noted that on the stone, the birthdates for the brothers are reversed, i.e., Floyd is shown to be the older while, of course, he was two years younger than Daniel.

292 Daniel S. Dwyer to Keith Marvin, August 26, 1985.

293 Daniel S. Dwyer to Geoffrey N. Stein, May 26, 1992.

294 Keith Marvin in a telephone conversation with the author, April 5, 1994, said he and Hodge were co–owners of the rocket car. Hodge wanted to sell. Marvin had Harrah interested, but the latter died before a deal could be consummated.

295 Merrill Stickler to Geoffrey N. Stein, March 30, 1979.

296 John L. Sherman to Otto P. Kohl, August 9, 1966.  Interestingly, Steven Sekella referred in letters to Daniel Hungerford to the “Hungerford Museum”. In one undated note (probably from 1965) he said that when he returned to Elmira from military service in Germany, “I hope to find the Hungerford museum intact.” Also he had run “across some old bayonets and daggers of the Nazi period for the Sekella Museum. I guess I'll pick up where the Hungerford Museum left off.”  In another letter, Sekella asked, “Did you ever get that Winchester you wanted $50oo back. If you do, I want to get it from you.”

297 Sekella's reference to seventeen months until he would be home “sometime in the summer of 1966” suggests the letter was written at the end of 1964 or beginning of 1965.

298 Cleoral Lovell to Paul Edward Garber, November 10, 1967.

299 After he went into the army in 1963, his parents junked the car, which was in poor condition, Sekella tells the author.

300 Marvin, “The Wizards of West Second Street”.

301 Shirley H. Hyde to Geoffrey Stein, September 9, 1992.

302 “Hungerford Dies; Designed Rocket Car,” April 10, 1967.

303 Jon Elan Steen to Geoffrey Stein, July 30, 1992. On July 7, 1992, Elan Steen wrote, “In my mind I can still see the bundles of letters and notes that were piled in that upstairs bedroom. It really would have been interesting to have sorted thru them...”

 

304 E. D. French, probably Star–Gazette, 1967

305 Erwin D. French to Paul Edward Garber, December 30, 1967. French noted, “Also, that after 77 years in N.Y[.] State, I am now living in Mass.”

306 Emory L. Johnson to Paul Garber, October 2, 1967.

307 T.J. Carpenter to Restored Cars Magazine, March 7, 2000.

308 T. J. Carpenter to Igor Spajic, May 16, 2000.

309 “Hungerford's Rockets”, vol. 20, no. 2, p. 2444.

310“Man with Spark of Near–Genius”, Star Gazette, April 12, 1967                 



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