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petermattson

The disappearance of Charles Gazzam Hurd.

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Regi

He ate at the restaurant on E 54th, most likely headed south on 2nd or south on Lexington.

If he was going back to his hotel, he would most likely stay on 2nd or on Lexington all the way to 23 street where the Kenmore is.

His accident was at 3rd and 37th, meaning he must have headed west (or east from Lexington, which would have been a WRONG WAY) on 37th, a mistake since 3rd avenue only goes north and the Kenmore is south of there.

Are you positive 3rd was one-way back then?

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petermattson

Are you positive 3rd was one-way back then?

I'm making the assumption that the streets have not changed direction but if there was a way to get a map from 1937 we could also clear up whether that intersection was near an on-ramp or not.

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petermattson

Charles was not going home the night he disappeared.

The map I have linked to is helpful for those of us who are highly visual.

http://skyscraperpag...uildingID=55225

Okay, so if Charles was headed back towards the Kenmore he made a strange turn.

Follow me here.

He ate at the restaurant on E 54th, most likely headed south on 2nd or south on Lexington.

If he was going back to his hotel, he would most likely stay on 2nd or on Lexington all the way to 23 street where the Kenmore is.

His accident was at 3rd and 37th, meaning he must have headed west (or east from Lexington, which would have been a WRONG WAY) on 37th, a mistake since 3rd avenue only goes north and the Kenmore is south of there.

Now, 3rd and 37th is where the exit for I-495 is.

The Expressway tunnel wasn't opened until 1940, 3 years after Charles disappeared.

Does anyone know what linked Manhattan to Queens prior to the tunnel?

And if there was a bridge exit there in 1937, it seems like too much of a coincidence for his car accident to have happened there as well.

Thoughts?

As far as I can gather, construction on the tunnel began in 1936 and there must have been a great deal of construction during '36-'40 on 3rd and 37th because that is the mouth of the Manhattan side. That might explain why the car accident happened there. However, there was no bridge or tunnel operating in 1937 so I'm going to shut down that part of my own theory. I still can't explain why he would have been at that intersection as I don't think it would have been his usual route home.

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Regi

As far as I can gather, construction on the tunnel began in 1936 and there must have been a great deal of construction during '36-'40 on 3rd and 37th because that is the mouth of the Manhattan side. That might explain why the car accident happened there. However, there was no bridge or tunnel operating in 1937 so I'm going to shut down that part of my own theory. I still can't explain why he would have been at that intersection as I don't think it would have been his usual route home.

Well I think it is/was a good theory but I'm really impressed by what led you to it.... I mean that you'd picked up on the fact that 3rd is actually a one-way street north! Seriously, that never occurred to me back when I was studying the case.

I searched for historical maps and other info this afternoon and I finally came across these photos where one is from '37 of 7th Avenue (3rd photo down) which shows 7th to have been two-way. I checked present day and it's now one-way south.

http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2012/06/more-historic-photos-from-the-nyc-municipal-archives/100318/

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Vincennes

I came across this video of New York City, 1938. Seems like it was done as a promo for movie audiences. This is how Charles would have last seen New York. It comes very close to his locations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL8G7cCrk4I

Here is another site that has some interesting pictures. I went through probably at least 200 of them and came to several of Williams Street. office buildings. Quite impressive. I also found several that showed the supports for the elevated on 3rd St. and they were pretty close to 37th. So you can get an idea of what he hit. Looks like the 3rd St. was very narrow.

Edited by Vincennes

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Vincennes

Here is another site that has some interesting pictures. I went through probably at least 200 of them and came to several of Williams Street. office buildings. Quite impressive. I also found several that showed the supports for the elevated on 3rd St. and they were pretty close to 37th. So you can get an idea of what he hit. Looks like the 3rd St. was very narrow.

I posted these NY street pictures of the area starting back on Pg.4, I think there were at least 4 posts of them so there's a lot more back in the thread if these don't show what you are looking for. Back then I posted them just as "atmosphere" of the area but some are "aerial" or taken from roofs. I haven't had time tonight to go back through them but, this first site has about 200, but I'll flip through tomorrow. You know I don't mind going back and enjoying looking at that era again !

Edited by Vincennes

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Vincennes

I reset that link from Pg. 4 and I do think it's the group of photos I had in mind. There are two that say they are at 2nd and 3rd. One numbered as # 28, says it is showing 2nd and 3rd and it's aerial.

I have copied the link in at the one that gives a view "Second and third Ave. Lines."

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/sets/72157610903925533/player

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petermattson

Well I think it is/was a good theory but I'm really impressed by what led you to it.... I mean that you'd picked up on the fact that 3rd is actually a one-way street north! Seriously, that never occurred to me back when I was studying the case.

I searched for historical maps and other info this afternoon and I finally came across these photos where one is from '37 of 7th Avenue (3rd photo down) which shows 7th to have been two-way. I checked present day and it's now one-way south.

http://www.theatlant...rchives/100318/

And 57th st. was two way and still is today. 3rd ave. was very narrow so I would guess it was one way but south or north I don't know. It seems unlikely to me that the avenues would have reversed directions but until we get a map of that intersection from that time we really can't be sure.

I'm going to look for clues as to where the Dows Estates building was because presumably he would have gone from work to dinner and then somewhere ... home (?) That might help in the sense that the restaurant may have been close to his work. The info on Dows is scant but I'm giving it a shot.

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petermattson

Nevermind. I just remembered that we looked into this a long time ago. He worked at 15 William St. which is near Wall St. in the financial district and as I think Vin pointed out (way back when), it's very far from the restaurant on E. 54th (75 blocks??). I don't know how unusual traveling this far would have been at the time but he was heading back in the direction of his room at the Kenmore after dinner when he ended up hitting the elevated rail structure and perhaps taking 37th st. to Lexington which would have taken him down to 23rd, a two way street.

Maybe he made another stop after the accident and never made it to the Kenmore ?

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Regi
petermattson

Well, this is new to me! This is info about the Third Avenue El, an elevated railway which ran from 129th St. past Canal St.

http://www.nycsubway...d#Photo_Gallery

If this link works, it'll show a 1942 photo of the railway taken at 18th St.

https://www.google.c...diers;1826;1922

Yeah! and if you jumped on the El you could ride it all the way to the 3rd Ave Bridge into the Bronx! :w00t:

So it seems clear from the pictures that 3rd Ave was a 2-way street in the '30s?

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Regi

So it seems clear from the pictures that 3rd Ave was a 2-way street in the '30s?

Well, I'm satisfied that it must have been 2- way because I'd expect such consistency along the entire route of that railway.

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Maureen_jacobs

Amnesia

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petermattson

Here's an interesting coincidence that I forgot to post back when we were discussing this case.

This is a link to the Dunham family papers and below that is info specifically from the Dows Estates (Charles's employer) records.

https://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/sophiasmith/mnsss20.html

 
 
 
Seal Harbor Committee for Fire Protection
 
 
 
 
Correspondence,
1930-31
 
Box 30: folder 6
 
Reports, plans, miscellaneous material, (includes photos)
1930-32, n.d.
 
Box 30: folder 7
 
Maps of Seal Harbor with fire lines drawn in,

 

In addition to the fact that financial records seem to be missing from the time of Charles's employment (more on that later), the above listed info regarding fire protection piqued my interest.

The link below details what happened to Mount Desert Island (where Seal Harbor is located) in 1947, over ten years after Charles disappeared.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fires_of_1947

This is coincidental - the Seal Harbor Fire Protection documents stored in Dows Estates records (MDI was a major part of DE's mortgage business) - and doesn't suggest a real connection between the fires and the disappearance. Both the fires and disappearance could have been accidental, for all we know. However, if Dows Estates itself was in the money laundering business (after all, this was still a difficult financial time for many people) perhaps because Charles himself had gone into gambling debt, it's possible the MDI fires were somehow related.

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petermattson

 

From the same link to the Dunham family papers, Dows Estates' financial records on leases from 1936-1937 are not a part of the collection. It's entirely possible that they were taken as evidence during an investigation into Charles's disappearance. However, I have not seen any indication that there was an investigation, let alone one thorough enough to search financial records of his employer. 

 
 
Financial
 
 
 
 
Leases,
1934-35, 1941-42
 
Box 31: folder 13
 
Receipts, miscellaneous correspondence,
1933, 1941, 1946
 
Box 31: folder 14
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Vincennes
29 minutes ago, petermattson said:

From the same link to the Dunham family papers, Dows Estates' financial records on leases from 1936-1937 are not a part of the collection. It's entirely possible that they were taken as evidence during an investigation into Charles's disappearance. However, I have not seen any indication that there was an investigation, let alone one thorough enough to search financial records of his employer. 

There will never ever be another case as interesting and enticing to the very core as this one !

I have a car collector down the street and early this summer I saw him driving a 30s era yellow convertible.  Had to stop myself from chasing him down because had it been a Roadster, I'd have probably jumped in just like a car jacker.  ;)

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petermattson
33 minutes ago, Vincennes said:

There will never ever be another case as interesting and enticing to the very core as this one !

I have a car collector down the street and early this summer I saw him driving a 30s era yellow convertible.  Had to stop myself from chasing him down because had it been a Roadster, I'd have probably jumped in just like a car jacker.  ;)

I (obviously) agree that this case would be hard to top. I know we already talked about this but it is uncanny how few of the Dows Estates records include anything from '36 or '37. I did find that one financial statement from '36 is still listed.

Dows Estates, Inc.
 
 
 
 
Correspondence,
1914-15, 1934, 1938-39,1944-46
 
Box 29: folder 2
 
Financial statements, legal documents,
1939, 1944-45
 
Box 29: folder 3
 
Mary (Dows) Dunham estate
 
 
 
 
Correspondence
 
 
 
 
Paul G. Gravenhorst (attorney),
1938-40
 
Box 29: folder 4
 
Herbert L. Bodman, Carroll Dunham, III (& others),
1933-35, 1938-40, 1948-50
 
Box 29: folder 5
Note:

[see also the Bodman Family Papers]

Legal documents,
1939
 
Box 29: folder 6
 
Financial statements,
1936, 1938-40
 
Box 29: folder 7
 
Financial statements of account with Dows Estates',
1939-42, 1946
 
Box 29: folder 8
 
Artwork: correspondence, inventories,
1941, n.d.
 
Box 29: folder 9
 
House: clipping,
1940
 
Box 29: folder 10
 
Theodora (Dunham) Bodman trust: account statements,
1938-41, n.d.
 
Box 29: folder 11
Note:

[see also the Bodman Family Papers]

Balch-McMahon trust: correspondence, account figures,
1930, 1938-41, n.d.
 
Box 29: folder 12
 
Ann (Dows) Hoe estate: correspondence,
1938-39
 
Box 29: folder 13
 
Activities, general
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Vincennes
20 hours ago, petermattson said:

I (obviously) agree that this case would be hard to top. I know we already talked about this but it is uncanny how few of the Dows Estates records include anything from '36 or '37. I did find that one financial statement from '36 is still listed.

I'm wondering here how you would go about finding a missing property which is what I think might have happened.  I think Charles might just have brought property using the Dow money, then the deed went missing and he pocketed the money himself.  Is that what you were thinking ?

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petermattson
3 hours ago, Vincennes said:

I'm wondering here how you would go about finding a missing property which is what I think might have happened.  I think Charles might just have brought property using the Dow money, then the deed went missing and he pocketed the money himself.  Is that what you were thinking ?

Yes, it seems like the Dows framily was a little hands-off the business and may not have known what was going on.

I think it's possible the fraud would have been something like a straw purchase (or a series of them). However, I recently saw a story about a murder in Greenwich where the victim had run a bunch of similar schemes and then (from the link) "Kissel had been the treasurer of the co-op board at 200 East 74th Street in Manhattan. He had a great deal of autonomy and sole signing authority over the Board's bank account. He arranged a refinancing plan, to create a reserve fund and pay for renovations to the building, but also siphoned money into his own account, forged statements, and eventually embezzled $3.9 million."

Now, if it had been discovered Charles was involved in something of this magnitude, it more than likely would have made the papers. But if he was perpetrating lesser frauds, it may have been easy to forget (assuming there was even an investigation at this level).

 

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Vincennes
20 hours ago, petermattson said:

Now, if it had been discovered Charles was involved in something of this magnitude, it more than likely would have made the papers. But if he was perpetrating lesser frauds, it may have been easy to forget (assuming there was even an investigation at this level)

I think our idea of "lesser frauds" and their idea might be a little different.  Way back I worked a short time as a personal secretary to a man from one of Chicago's old wealthy families.  Nothing on the scale of the Dows, of course, but one of the major baseball parks in Chicago bears the family name.  His job consisted of managing his money and mine the correspondence involved in that.  I was really taken back with one and only one piece of correspondence involving the fact that he had been conned out of over $150,000 on a business project that never existed.  He was irritated for a minute composing the letter and simply that, no other comments or interest followed.  Something like, "Well this is a bother."  Might not sound like much for a wealthy man today either until you look at that amount of money today.  This happened in 1976 and the value of that sum today translates to $666,000 !

Remembering then that the Dows and the Hurds had been family friends, I think it would have taken a whole lot of money gone for them to raise up to embarrass the Hurds.  Remember Charles' father came to that sudden "heart attack" right after the crash.  From their view point, what would be gained ?   I'd like to know if there's any chance the files were taken into evidence or (my money is on) if the Dows assisted in seeing that traces of the whole nasty episode disappeared.  

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petermattson
46 minutes ago, Vincennes said:

I think our idea of "lesser frauds" and their idea might be a little different.  Way back I worked a short time as a personal secretary to a man from one of Chicago's old wealthy families.  Nothing on the scale of the Dows, of course, but one of the major baseball parks in Chicago bears the family name.  His job consisted of managing his money and mine the correspondence involved in that.  I was really taken back with one and only one piece of correspondence involving the fact that he had been conned out of over $150,000 on a business project that never existed.  He was irritated for a minute composing the letter and simply that, no other comments or interest followed.  Something like, "Well this is a bother."  Might not sound like much for a wealthy man today either until you look at that amount of money today.  This happened in 1976 and the value of that sum today translates to $666,000 !

Remembering then that the Dows and the Hurds had been family friends, I think it would have taken a whole lot of money gone for them to raise up to embarrass the Hurds.  Remember Charles' father came to that sudden "heart attack" right after the crash.  From their view point, what would be gained ?   I'd like to know if there's any chance the files were taken into evidence or (my money is on) if the Dows assisted in seeing that traces of the whole nasty episode disappeared.  

True, and Uncle Richard was a political player (he died in '41). I keep coming back to the "cashing a small check" bit and thinking it's an odd detail; if it was commonplace, why mention it and if it wasn't, what is the significance?

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Vincennes
22 hours ago, petermattson said:

True, and Uncle Richard was a political player (he died in '41). I keep coming back to the "cashing a small check" bit and thinking it's an odd detail; if it was commonplace, why mention it and if it wasn't, what is the significance?

Could they have been alluding to the fact he might have been robbed for the amount of the check ?  

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Regi
On 9/12/2018 at 11:25 AM, petermattson said:

I keep coming back to the "cashing a small check" bit and thinking it's an odd detail; if it was commonplace, why mention it and if it wasn't, what is the significance?

I'll also find it odd, at least until I could know more about it.

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petermattson
23 hours ago, Vincennes said:

Could they have been alluding to the fact he might have been robbed for the amount of the check ?  

So I've been thinking about this. I read back over the emails from his granddaughter and she had assumed the reason the check was mentioned was to undermine the notion that he had run off ("small check"). However, I'm assuming the NYT article would have been based on a police report (the article appeared 8 days after his disappearance) and my speculation is that the NYT was putting out any info they thought might be helpful for the general public to remember anything about Charles that night. Hence, the details about the small check and the one-car accident were "just the facts, ma'am"-style reporting, and not there to promote any particular theory. Maybe I'm not cynical enough but putting myself into that situation as best I can, they would have had no idea that he wasn't going to be found (dead or alive) and therefore would have considered all details relevant.

To my mind, there are only 3 possible ways the NYT article gets published, beginning with least likely:

#1 A friend or stranger calls in a tip (could be innocent or nefarious) about the missing man and a NYT reporter then heads to the various scenes to track down his/her reporting.

#2 A concerned family member (estranged wife, even) brings it to the NYT's attention (this person may have had the make/model and plate number info). 

#3 There was a police report and investigators pushed the story out to the paper in order to garner leads. This is by far the most plausible in my opinion primarily because of the one-car accident detail, which would be an odd thing to come up in a tip or to be discovered by a reporter considering the accident was many blocks away from the restaurant. How would anyone connect the dots unless there was a police report of the accident and then a follow-up investigation by the police after he was reported missing (most likely by his employer, I'd say, but possibly the wife when he didn't show up to see his son).

As far as I know, there was just one pursuant article, a short blurb stating that he was still missing (do not know the exact date but March 1937, maybe a month later).

Thoughts?

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Regi
1 hour ago, petermattson said:

I read back over the emails from his granddaughter and she had assumed the reason the check was mentioned was to undermine the notion that he had run off ("small check").

Does anybody know the amount?

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