Author: Was Howard Hughes a Pike County recluse?
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016
When Mark Musick first came to Pike County in 2010, he caused quite a stir.
He came with a box of books titled, “Boxes” and went about the county telling a tale that many thought was too tall to be true.
Musick’s “tale” was that Nick Nicely, the deceased husband of the late Goshen resident Eva McLelland, was actually Howard Hughes, one of the world’s wealthiest men and one of the most famous recluses.
When Musick, a retired Nebraska Air National Guard major general, spoke, some people around Pike County listened.
Musick had teamed with writer Douglas Wellman to tell the tale in the book, “Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes” and the story was intriguing even if not believable.
Circumstances brought Musick and McLelland together and, in time, she shared the secret she had held for so many years.
“Eva had hesitated to tell the story because, as Nick told her, nobody would believe it,” Musick said. “But after eight years of research, I became convinced that Eva story’s was a true story.”
Musick said during 1972 and 1973, Howard Hughes was often described as a mentally incompetent, bedraggled man with long fingernails and just as often described as a well-groomed articulate businessman.
“In the book, ‘Boxes,’ we reveal secrets that prove Howard Hughes assumed another identity and sought refuge in the woods of Alabama for 25 years after his presumed death in 1976,” he said.
And, during those years, Howard Hughes lived life as Nick Nicely, the husband of Eva McLelland. They had married in Panama in 1970. She found him to be very mysterious but it was years later, Musick said, before McLelland learned she was actually married to Howard Hughes.
“It was her belief that the ‘Howard Hughes’ who died in 1976 was actually a stand-in, perhaps, a homeless person,” Musick said,
Truth is often stranger than fiction and the tale Mark Musick tells is strange.
But, today, Musick is more convinced than ever that the story Eva McLelland shared with him long after her husband’s death is true. Since he published the first book about the secret life of Howard Hughes, he has found new photos, conducted new interviews and found new evidence to substantiate his initial findings.
At 3 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Old Barn in Goshen, Musick will discuss the secret life of Howard Hughes and the life he lived with Eva McLelland here in the hinterlands of Southeast Alabama.
Everyone is invited to come and hear a tale that is so unbelievable that it can’t be true, or can it be?