Finding samples of Howard’s handwriting was never simple, since it is generally reported that he dictated much of his communication to his aides, who wrote his memos longhand on yellow legal pads. This was a critical factor in the trial over the Mormon Will, which will be discussed in Chapter Thirteen. Lawyers for the Hughes family, which was contesting the will, maintained that the handwritten document couldn’t possibly have been written by Howard because it was sloppy, with scratch-outs and a plethora of misspellings and grammatical errors. Howard, the family and aides maintained, would never make these types of errors, and as a perfectionist would never let such a poorly written document be distributed. Given the status of the billionaire, this seemed like a very logical argument. It might have held up if it weren’t for the fact that the attorney representing the will, Harold Rhoden, and his team, produced several memos that Hughes’s aides grudgingly, under oath, acknowledged were personally written by Hughes in the 1960s. John Holmes was the unfortunate Hughes aide on the witness stand when Rhoden began to shred their argument. One by one, he produced fifty-eight different Hughes-written documents with spelling errors such as payed, Dessert Inn, companys, opointees, devided, and aircraf. He didn’t do well with names, either. Hubert Humphrey became Hubert Humphries, Bob Maheu became Bob Mahu, and Howard even got creative with his own name, spelling it Hughest. After the spelling test, Holmes was subjected to another pile of documents that featured egregious, and seeming endless, examples of improper capitalization and grammar. Other than being angry and frustrated, Holmes could do nothing but sit and endure the painful presentation of facts (Rhoden 243–48).
Gary Nicely stated that his father, Verner, had no problems with spelling or grammar. However, the court record shows that Howard wrote just like Nik!
Another curious coincidence was revealed on the witness stand. An FBI analysis of the Mormon Will revealed that out of the three thousand brands of ink available at the time, the will was written with a Paper Mate pen with an ink formula only made from 1963 to 1974. A Hughes aide testified that Howard would only write with a Paper Mate pen and that the aide bought them by the dozen (Magnesen 88).
So … what are the odds of that?
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