New York Times Portraits of Grief

Carl Max Hammond

Carl Hammond and Carl Max Hammond Jr. had some of their best father-son talks while tinkering with the innards of a Mustang.

"I bought one used back in '67," said the elder Mr. Hammond. It needed parts, so I bought another — which needed parts. I bought another and another and another."

Max, who was 12, liked to tinker, too. "It wasn't long," said his father, "before he was the leader and I was the follower."

Max Hammond was also a leader in other ways. In seventh grade, he got into trouble for contradicting his teacher.

"She said a supernova was the birth of a star," Mr. Hammond recalled. "He said it was the death of a star. He wouldn't back off his position. He accused the teacher of getting her science from Reader's Digest. He got his from Scientific American."

Max earned a doctorate in physics and got a job doing top-secret research. But he still preferred talking about books or cars. "He wrote poetry," his father said. "He loved working with his hands." He was taking a welding course and learning to weld and form aluminum and thin metal."

Less than a year before boarding Flight 175, Max Hammond, who was 37, moved to Derry, N.H. He bought a little house with a big garage for the Mustangs. "The '65 Mustang fastback — a shell of a body — was first on the list," Mr. Hammond said. "Next was the Mustang convertible. He liked to learn about them and tinker with them. But he never did finish one."