John Hays Hammond Jr. – True Gloucester Genius

What are you reading this on? A tablet? A phone? A laptop? Was it printed out and offered to you by a cult-like follower on a bejeweled tray? Assuming your wretched supplicant used a wireless printer, in each case you can enjoy this fine piece of infotainment thanks to technology pioneered by Gloucester resident and awesome genius John Hays Hammond Jr.

we can only assume that as the father of remote control, this was a selfie

we can only assume that as the father of remote control, this was a selfie

You have him to blame.

Sure, you’ve driven by Hammond Castle bunch of times and maybe have attended one of the Haunted Halloween things because who doesn’t delight in the sound of tweens from Beverly screaming at the top of their lungs for half an hour straight? Or maybe you went there on a field trip or something, but none of it has ever made much sense. You  probably thought something like this:

“Guy was inventor. Guy built castle. Now is site of Renaissance Faire where dude with leashed ferrets wearing pantaloons capers about playing lute.”

Centaurs and Doritos don't mix, apparently

Centaurs and Doritos don’t mix, apparently

But I beseech thee to suspend thy knavery and listen hence to the tale of John Hays Hammond, Cape Ann’s greatest genius after Chubby Woodman, inventor of the fried clam (and porn actor if his nickname is any indication). Birdseye was pretty good too, and we’re going to do a thing on him later in hopes of getting free tater tots.

But we digress (we are a little shitfaced, sorry). This is one of those stories that looks like it needs to be made into a family movie you never watch on Hulu with the kids on a trip because you wind up watching like nine Sponge Bob episodes on the hotel TV instead. Here is what you missed:

  • Son of a wealthy engineer, John Jr. spends his early childhood years in South Africa at a mining camp, becoming intimately familiar at a young age with the techniques and equipment used to dig ore miles below the ground. Our own kids have trouble getting out the door with two matched shoes.
  • Eventually the family moves to England where he falls in love with castles. In fact, castles are his only friends as they are more penetrable and warm than his British classmates.
  • At age 12 John Jr. goes with his father to meet Thomas Alva Edison at his laboratory in New Jersey. The young Hammond asks perceptive questions of the great inventor who comes to like the cut of his jib and invites him to hang around the lab. Also Edison was trying to motivate his employees to invent the technology that would eventually become the Taser, and as we know from personal experience having a young boy around when you’re trying to do something complicated is the best inspiration for this kind of device.
Or this. This works

Or this. This works

  •  While assisting on an experiment being conducted by Nikola Tesla with a mysterious source of dark energy in the luminescent ether, Hammond miswires a connection sending himself and Tesla back to the 13th Century. They wind up being enlisted by Leszek II of Poland to defeat the invading Huns of the ‘Golden Horde’ using Tesla’s lightening machine, thus paving way for Europe to leave the Dark Ages and enter the Renaissance [citation needed].
  •  Hammond builds his Radio Research Laboratory on Gloucester Harbor. There, he invents over 400 devices patented under his name. How did he manage to get that past the DPA? Getting this structure approved remains the greatest triumph his career, one that has never been repeated to this day.
  •  He also builds a castle. Because fuck yes, when you are a mad scientist (more of a mad engineer, really) you’d better damn well have a boss lair. He uses local materials mixed with the ruins of historical European buildings salvaged from the rubble of WW I. How cool is that? It has a Roman pool in the middle of it. Greta Garbo used to swim in this pool because she was having an affair with Hammond’s brother. Do we think she swam naked in this pool? We do.
The zoning board rejected the first few proposals

The zoning board rejected the first few proposals

  • He had a MASSIVE organ. Oh, come on, a pipe organ. The musical instrument. You people make us sick.
  •  He uses radio control to send a pilotless boat around the harbor freaking people’s shit out all over the place. Using the same system he remotely controls a boat from Gloucester to Boston and back again. Later he would use the same technology to remotely steer an unmanned battleship for the Navy in a demonstration. The Navy can never quite get its head around remote controlled vessels because with no sailors on board the sodomy would have to occur on land, which just seems wrong somehow.
Authors vision of what this looked like

Authors vision of what this looked like

  •  From his castle locals report hearing massive explosions echo across the harbor and seeing weird lights. Do you love this guy or what? How do you not love this guy? He also invents a variable-pitch propeller (the navy likes this better) a magnetic bottle cap remover and a “Hypodermic Meat Baster” which coincidentally was the name of a punk band at our college we would play bass for sometimes.
  •  He turns his house into a museum while he’s still alive so everyone can enjoy his collection. If there was any demand at all for a “Museum of tattered Ikea Furniture Covered in Pet Hair” we’d do the same.

    drone shot of E. Gloucester. Hammond would have LOVED this. Photo M. Del Vecchio

    drone shot of E. Gloucester. Hammond would have LOVED this. Photo M. Del Vecchio

We could go on, but if there is anything we’ve learned from our site statistics is that you don’t want us to go on, you just want funny lists. “Give the people what they want,” is our motto.

To reiterate: Hammond was born rich, could have sailed around the world on a golden yacht full of prostitutes doing little more with his time than firing champagne corks at bargemen. Instead he decided to invent amazing stuff and live in a castle he made into a public museum while hanging around with the coolest people of his day.

A hearty “Clam Huzzah” to John Hayes Hammond Jr.!

Ask A Dogtown Resident

Our “Ask” series is an advice column with a special panel of guest columnists. Today’s guest columnist is a destitute, widowed resident of Dogtown circa 1790.

Dear Dogtown Resident:

I am engaged to a great guy, but his family wants a huge wedding. I would rather elope or have a small backyard shindig. However, his mother and sisters insist on renting a hall we can’t afford and inviting a guest list of almost 150 people! I am at my wits’ end and want to call the whole thing off. What do I do?

– Not Bridezilla in Lanesville

My Dearest Not Bridezilla:

Excuse my handwriting, my love, for I am writing by mere glowing embers. Since John has gone to his maker in the sea these nine years ago, finding firewood has been a harder endeavor. Most winters I bring the dogs inside with me and hang our wedding quilt over the broken parts of the front door. I am sixty years old, too old to fix things here. My cellar hole is crumbling as we speak, and taking the last of this years’ root potatoes with it. But this is nary a matter, let me attend to your question. Ah, yes, you have not the money for such a lavish occasion. Let me be bold – have you considered prostitution? When I cannot afford whale oil for my reading lamp, I often revisit my past as a lady of the night. Times are hard, my dear, and we all must do what we can.

dogtown

If only I could again have this kind of luxury.

Dear Dogtown Resident:

My son is 18 and we have found out that he has been drinking at friends’ houses. We are concerned about this behavior. How do we curb it? He is an adult now, but he still lives at our house. Grounding him isn’t going to work at this age!

– Worried in Rockport

Dearest Worried:

I understand fully your concern about the scourge of the Drink. My own brother was found half-dead on an outcropping of rocks on the Annisquam river last November. He continues to wander from parish to parish in search of more spirits to quench his inner pain after the failed crops of the past years. I fear for his soul, for he is a shell of a man and he shall face the wrath of an angry god. At 18, your son should have many years of work experience on the docks, and should be working from sunrise to sunset as a deckhand. He should not have time for drink! Does he not have his own house and wife and children at his age? Shame on your family for such morals.

The Sins of Liquor Be Known To Ye

The Sins of Liquor Be Known To Ye


Dear Dogtown Resident:

My doctor wants me to take a medication that I don’t particularly want to take to curb a disease I have. I would rather try a holistic approach like green tea or Reiki. But he claims that I could die if I don’t give in to Big Pharma and take the drug. What should I do?

– Natural in Annisquam

Dear Natural:

If I may, I fear I may not be understanding you correctly. You have a cure for your disease that isn’t prayer and whiskey to ease suffering? And your town has a doctor who isn’t afraid to travel past the bridge to your home for fear of curses put on him? Why, pray tell, are you not listening to the man? I have borne ten children, and five were buried before their 14th birthdays, from scarlet fever, pox, measles, and an encounter with a horsecart. I would have crossed the planes of hell to access a drug that could have spared their lives. And you have such drugs available to you and yet choose not to take them? My love, spend a day in my shoes and you’ll know what the right choice is.

This is commonplace in my village.

This is commonplace in my village.

Want your question answered in our next advice column? Leave a comment here!

Snark Free Sunday: Remember the Maine and everybody else

We just went  down to the area around the Gloucester House to take a pic of one of the the anchors of the USS Maine that is (used to be?) there. If anyone knows which one it is, clue us in because we couldn’t find it. It always surprises us to run into it down there amongst the tourists and fishing gear. Image We think about the Maine on Memorial Day. She was a battleship sunk in Havana Harbor during the revolt there against the Spanish. Why she went down is still unclear. Did she hit a mine? Was there an explosion in her coal bunkers? We don’t know, but it’s important to point out that the exact cause didn’t matter to the guys who were killed or to their families back home. We’ve been to all of the war memorials around Gloucester many times, each of them is poignant in its own way. The WW II memorial front and center on the Boulevard contrasted with the Vietnam one tucked away near the high school have always said more to us more about how the culture absorbed the impacts of those respective conflicts than any poem or song.

The Maine’s bower hits us differently, though, because it is an artifact. It’s an actual thing the guys would haul up and down, probably swear at, bruise their knuckles on. They would worry about it, some of them. “Is it set, is it holding?” But their worries about the anchor, like so many concerns in life, were not congruent with the actual mechanism of the eventual catastrophe.

Like so much of warfare today in the age of stand-off weaponry and even as civilians in a society where lives can be snuffed out in an instant by any number of means intentionally or otherwise, what came at those guys was a surprise. Death came out of nowhere. Everyone one of those guys had plans for that day that didn’t involve what happened, none of them saw it coming.

Humans have always glorified the concept of battle, as our most ancient texts show. But in the end, so many of the people we honor this weekend were struck down not taking a hill or leading a charge, but doing their duty and managing the unexpected in times of unprecedented crisis they did not expect. On the Maine, given the watch schedule of a ship, some of those struck down were even asleep when disaster struck.

Yet, rightfully, we honor them all the same. I think that in this, as in so many things, we have much to learn from them.

With thanks to those who have served,

–The Clam

9 Signature Gloucester Cocktails to Spice Up Your Memorial Day

By the Clam Contributors – James Dowd, KT and guest Len Pal

Memorial Day is about remembering those who served. We intend to run a more earnest bit this weekend honoring some of the many, many men and women who kicked ass and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. As we were pondering what to write, we poured ourselves a generous toast to them all. It’s what Hemingway would have done.

This got us to thinking, why are there no signature Gloucester cocktails? Why no drinks that really bring out the character of the diverse melting pot/poorly supervised asylum that is Gloucester? So we made some up. YOU’RE WELCOME.

THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL CITY FOLKS (photo courtesy of Cape Ann Images)

THIS IS A TOTALLY NORMAL CITY, FOLKS. LA LA LA. (photo courtesy of Cape Ann Images)

The Greasy Pole

  • Oak barrel whiskey
  • Sea salt
  • Drizzle rim of glass with mixture chocolate and Karo Syrup
  • Splash of Amaretto

The Lanesville

  • Finnish Vodka
  • Granite dust
  • Bitters

(To be drunk alone)

The Fort

  • Cape Pond Ice AND NOTHING ELSE EVER FUCK YOU ALL

The Maplewood

  • Monster energy drink
  • 1 crushed Suboxone
  • 2 blister packs Sudafed
  • Handful of pixie sticks
  • 1 bottle prescription cough syrup
  • 1 quart denatured laboratory alcohol
  • Slushie syrup (purple preferred)
  • Another Monster energy drink

Served mixed together in a stolen Styrofoam cooler set on fire

Still needs Monster. I'm on it.

Still needs Monster. I’m on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Man at the Wheel

  • A handful of Altoids mints
  • Just one beer like three hours ago honestly officer
FINE TO DRIVE SERIOUSLY

FINE TO DRIVE SERIOUSLY

The East Gloucester

  • Organic heirloom carrot juice
  • Kale
  • Man tears
  • Your testicles, dried and powdered
I was human once, like you

I was human once, like you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Teen*

  • Vodka from stepmom’s liquor cabinet
  • ½ bottle blue Powerade

Serve in bottle walking around yelling and falling down

*We have been told this is a real thing oh god why

 

The Ocean View Inn

  • Take patron’s money, close bar and run
When can I open my eyes?

When can I open my eyes?

The Roadside

  • Large DD iced coffee
  • Kahlua nip
  • Can of Nattie Ice

Mix together and drink through five scratched lottery tickets rolled up together like a straw

Enjoy these fine concoctions and post your own in the comments. Have a great long weekend everyone and thanks for making The Clam such a huge success.

SPORTHORSE COLUMN!

TODAY SPORT HORSE GOING TO TALK ABOUT PREAKNESS STAKES AND TERRIBLE RED SOX TEAM.

FIRST OFF, HORSE WINS RACE! LISTEN GUYS THIS IS MY KIND OF EVENT. IT IS THE SONG OF MY PEOPLE. NO ONE PAY ATTENTION TO HORSE RACING OUTSIDE OF TRIPLE CROWN UNLESS THEY ARE SAD GAMBLING ADDICT. AFTER CALIFORNIA CHROME WIN KENTUCKY DERBY, I WAS LIKE “NICE JOB”. NOW HE WIN PREAKNESS STAKES! NOW EVERYONE WANT HIM AND HIS WEIRD HORSE BONER (SERIOUSLY GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH THAT IF YOU WANT TO FEEL SHAME) TO WIN BELMONT AND TRIPLE CROWN! THAT WOULD BE COOL.

MAYBE WITH ALL THAT MONEY THEY CAN GET HIM A DENTIST AMIRITE

DENTAL PLAN. CALIFORNIA CHROME NEEDS BRACES. DENTAL PLAN. CALIFORNIA CHROME NEEDS BRACES.

 

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT HORSE NAMES THOUGH. ALL HORSES WHO RACE ALWAYS HAVE CRAZY NAMES. WHY NOT JIM OR JEFF OR BOB? MY GRANDPA WAS NAMED BILL. MY DAD WAS DOUG. BUT EVERYONE HAS THAT WEIRD COUSIN GETHSEMANE PORTRAIT OR HUMBLE OCTOPUS OR WHATEVER. SPORT HORSE NOT UNDERSTAND THIS. MAKES HEAD ACHE.

OK, NOW ONTO CRAPPY RED SOX TEAM. CAN’T EVEN PULL ONE DAMN WIN OUT AGAINST THE TIGERS. UGH WTF. JAKE PEAVY NOT DOING WELL THIS YEAR – HAS ALLOWED A HOME RUN IN ALL OF HIS STARTS THIS YEAR. SPORT HORSE NO DAN SHAUGHNESSY OR ANYTHING (A-NEIIGH-THING LOL) BUT THIS SEEMS.. NOT GOOD. PROBABLY HIS TERRIBLE VISION DIDN’T HELP.

ACTUAL PHOTO OF JAKE PEAVY AFTER SUNDAY'S LOSS

ACTUAL PHOTO OF JAKE PEAVY AFTER SUNDAY’S LOSS

BUT SPORT HORSE ALSO HAVE AWFUL VISION SO FEELS BAD POKING FUN AT PEAVY. THAT WHY I TYPE IN CAPS. ALSO ENGLISH SECOND LANGUAGE.

ANYWHO IS SAD RED SOX THIS BAD ALREADY WHEN THEY WON ENTIRE POINTY TROPHY LAST YEAR. STEPHEN DREW SIGNING WILL MAKE BETTER TEAM MOST LIKELY, UNLESS IT DOES NOT.

IN HOCKEY NEWS, ANYONE ELSE HAPPY RANGERS ARE WINNING SERIES VS HABS? JUST ME? SPORT HORSE LOVE SCHADENFREUDE.

OK BYE FOR NOW. AS ALWAYS U GOT QUESTIONS I GOT ANSWERS. EMAIL ASKSPORTHORSE@GMAIL.COM

05e

I DO WAT I WANT