Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Are Selling The Hat

Howard Hughes' "Lucky Fedora" 

Howard Hughes' Hat!
One of our board members gave us the hat for the auction. 
In his letter about the hat, he says:
For 35 years I was a practicing Medical Specialist in the Los Angeles area.  During that time my wife and I became very friendly with JOHN SLEETER,  a general practitioner in a neighboring community, and he and I developed a professional relationship as well.
One evening while my wife and I were the Sleeters' dinner guests,  John told us that while he was training at Los Angeles County Hospital, he came to care for HOWARD HUGHES, who was a patient there. Hughes had been taken to that hospital following a plane crash of his on July 7th, 1946. John,  for a period of time, became Hughes' physician.
That evening, knowing that I was a private pilot,  thinking I would appreciate it, John offered me a hat that Hughes had given him.  Was this the only such hat that Hughes had, since a famous photo of him showing him in the pilot seat of the Spruce Goose shows him wearing what appears identical to this one , or did he have multiple such hats, I do not know.
I kept it ever since and even considered donating it to the Smithsonian Museum Aviation Section at one time.  It now seems an appropriate time to make it available to a person or entity seriously interested in possessing what I consider to be a valuable and real bit of memorabilia.
  (John died in 2009. I downloaded his obituary from the Internet. It was from the Tama, Iowa local newspaper, the place of his birth, and it states that he had been Hughes' personal physician).   by Anonymous board member

Now that I have done a bit more digging, I have found that Sleeter was a Lt. and had indeed treated Hughes after the crash, and hitched a ride with him on his first flight after the ordeal. Read the book starting on the bottom of 157.page
I have also found reference to the hat being recovered and taken to a police station, then rushed to Hughes at the hospital. It kind of gave me chills, reading about the crash and his connection to Sleeter, and having the hat sitting here in front of me.
If you have any aviation fans (with money) please let them know about this. Click here to see some of the other items up for auction.
We now have a letter from Dr Sleeter's wife attesting to the authenticity of the hat. 
To quote the letter: To whom it may concern,
Approximately 15 years ago my husband, Dr John W. H. Sleeter while guests at our home at 1200 S, Orange Groove Blvd, Pasadena, gave to Dr Charles Tannenbaum the hat that Howard Hughes gave him while he was under John's care after he was discharged from Good Samaritan Hospital after his plane crash.
I witnessed this gift being given myself
Patricia G. Sleeter
There is also a certificate verifying his service at the hospital that makes direct reference to Hughes case.
These may be sent by email upon request.
rcanaga@gmail.com



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