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Thread: Dean Fellows Mix, Missing Since September 1949

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    starstar Dean Fellows Mix, Missing Since September 1949

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    Democrat and Chronicle
    (Rochester, NY)
    Sunday, April 25, 1982
    Dean Mix
    Missing since 1949

    Suddenly, Dean Mix was gone. Vanished. Disappeared. It was though he had walked off the face of the earth. That was in 1949. Mix, who was 22 when he vanished, has never been found. Dean was a brilliant young man with a bright future. Mix, who lived in a Meigs Street apartment with his wife Jeane, was a mechanical whiz. By the time he was 22, he had torn down a 1941 Cadillac and rebuilt it's body into a sleek design that was years ahead of it's time. He had served in the Army Air Force during World War 2 and had been married for 15 months.

    He disappeared in New York City where he had gone to sell the car on September 21, 1949. Why?

    "It is one of the most baffling cases in my experience" Capt. John J. Cronin, who was head of the New York City Police Department's Missing Persons Bureau said then, "There are not enough facts on which to base a satisfactory conclusion. It is really a toughie."

    Mix's parents, Stanley and Marian Mix, who then lived on Hillside Avenue, never gave up hope.

    "Neither my Father or my Mother ever gave up on it," says his sister, Marcia Byrnes, who was 1 1/2 years younger than Mix and now lives in Trenton, N.J. "They had a feeling he had to be some place. It is a hard thing to give up hope for a son or a daughter. You just don't do that. That's what kept my parents going."

    Dean Mix was a slim, quiet, young man who didn't smoke or drink and wore rimless glasses. He was six feet tall and weighed 160 pounds, had dark, wavy hair, a medium complexion, blue eyes and a disfigured right index fingernail, the result of a shop accident.

    Mix was a born tinkerer. When he was 8, he took apart a small engine and rebuilt it. When he was 14, he built a racer that was runner-up in the annual Rochester Soap Box Derby. When he was 15, he built a small one-passenger car, powered by old washing machine parts, that got 90 miles to the gallon.

    His pride was a 1941 Cadillac convertible coupe. He bought the car in early 1949 and spent six months ripping it apart and rebuilding it at the shop where he ran an auto refinishing business. It was not just any rebuilt car. The only way you could tell it had been a Cadillac was to look at the hubcaps. Mix lowered the body seven inches and rebuilt the chrome grille so it was less garish. He wanted leather seat covers, so he taught himself to sew and installed tanned steerhide upholstery and leather instrument panel. he rebuilt the trunk so it opened by a button on the dash. Then, he finished the car with 10 coats of hand rubbed dark blue lacquer called Belden Blue.

    A small plaque under the right headlight noted that the car was "Fellows styled," a reference to Mix's middle name, a family name. Mix felt the car was worth $10,000. He wanted to sell it so, on July 29 he left with the car for California, where he thought he'd easily find a buyer. On the way, he stopped to see the sights.

    "Dear Mom and Dad," says a color postcard of the Grand Canyon he mailed from Yellowstone Park, penned in his small, poor handwriting. "So far the trip has been pretty good. Yellowstone is very interesting. The car is ok, a little warm on the mountains though, Love, Dean."

    In Los Angeles, Mix stayed with his Aunt and his Uncle, Herb and Mollie Marth. During the days, he tinkered with the car at a service station on Sunset Boulevard. He'd been there several weeks when he met Elmo Chester Holland, 39, a slim mustachioed former Merchant Marine Captain who resembled swashbuckler Errol Flynn.

    Holland liked the car and offered to buy it. But his money, he told Mix, was tied up in New York City. Would Mix take him there to sell the car? After several weeks Mix agreed. They arrived in New York on September 16, where they registered at the Dixie Hotel on 43rd St. Four days later Mix telephoned his Father in Rochester. He said he had sold the car to Holland for $2,500 and had been paid with two certified checks. Stanley Mix told his son to exchange the checks for a bank draft and send it to Central Trust Co. in Rochester. Dean Mix agreed. Then he talked to his wife, Jeane, on the phone and said he didn't get as much money for the car as he had hoped.

    Mix and Holland stayed that night in Sunnyside, Queens. The next morning, Holland says, he drove Mix to Grand Central Station, where Mix was to get a train to Rochester. Mix never arrived. Neither did the bank draft he was to have sent. Stanley Mix called the police who issued a nationwide missing person report for Dean Mix. Nothing was turned up until dusk on Oct. 16, when Holland was stopped driving Mix's car on Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona.

    Mix's New York license plates, 4M266, were in the trunk and the car had new Pennsylvania plates, 85AF3. Also in the trunk were several of Mix's shirts and a camera he had borrowed. Holland had a bill of sale for the car, notarized in Queens. He said he had paid $3,000 in cash for the car, not $2,500 in checks as Mix had told his father. He said he paid $500 in California and $2,500 in New York. The bill of sale backed him up.

    Navajo County Sheriff L. Ben Pearson held Holland for four days and questioned him. So did the FBI. But they had no evidence. Nor was there any evidence from New York to hold him. Holland was released and drove on to Los Angeles.

    "We did everything in our power to get at the bottom of things, stuck our necks out holding Holland as long as we did and all the time was trying to get the New York authorities to give us something to hold him on," Pearson wrote to Mix's father on Oct 27, "I am quite sure that Holland is responsible for the disappearance of your son. He is a smooth talker, well-versed and a personality to go along with everything.

    Holland was never charged.

    Was the case as simple as Pearson saw it?

    Dean's aunt and uncle, Herb and Mollie Marth, wrote a 14-page letter to Marth's brother in Rochester. Holland had come to their Los Angeles home after his release in Arizona, they said. Based on what he told them, and their own observation of Mix's behavior, when he stayed with them, they felt Mix had staged his own disappearance.

    During his six-week stay, they noted, he seemed aimless, slept late, ate little, didn't talk much, didn't write home and talked of living in California. Holland, they wrote, said that Mix had told him of problems at home. He also had noticed for the first time, Holland said, that his unique car could attract attention, and had taken movies of the car with the Sunset Strip in the background. He even posed with the car for a photo for the November 1949 issue of Motor Trend Magazine.

    "I came in contact with a great many former veterans who were so close to death during the war that they made up their minds to do things they really wanted to do when they were discharged. Perhaps Dean also thought he should do the things he wanted to do even though it was the opposite of what his family and friends would expect him to do," Martha wrote.

    Mix did have plans. In a letter to his father in March 1946, when he was crew chief on an Army Air Force plane in the Philippines, he wrote how he planned to build a small airport in California after he got home. His letter detailed the length of the runway, the size of the hangar and how he would purchase two war-surplus Piper Cub airplanes to give flying lessons. he wanted his parents to come with him.

    His plan, he said, would cost $10,000, the same price he tried to get for his car 2 1/2 years later. He said he'd get the money by refinishing cars.
    "I know that there was a question in your mind as to where I'm going to build. Well, you know that the most ideal place is California (southern) and I'd like to live there the rest of my life, in that nice healthy sun."

    "I thought that after I got things set up out in California, you, Mom and Marcia could move out and live in an ideal place for the rest of your life, and if things go the way they should you will be able to own your own Cal. bungalo, like Mom always wanted. Then in time to come we can build a nice little cottage on a mountain lake, not too far away, so we can go fishing and take it easy on the weekends. As for myself, when business has developed, in good shape, I'd like to get married, settle down and never more travel."

    A pipe dream from a lonely soldier halfway around the world from home? Perhaps. But Mix's father searched for him in California. He took out ads in newspapers and in car and motor magazines across the nation. He publicized his missing son on the Reported Missing radio program in San Francisco. He wrote letter after letter to the Missing Persons Bureau of the New York City Police Department. He asked help from U.S. Rep. Kenneth B. Keating. He even considered hiring a psychic to hold a seance, hoping to find some trace of his son. Nothing, there was no trace, but there was hope.

    "I believe there is no reason for considering Dean gone (dead)," his father said in a 1955 newspaper interview.

    Mix has never been declared dead, although his wife, Jeane, had their marriage annulled in 1952 and remarried. Says the FBI of it's investigation: "We have no evidence to show he is dead, but there is no evidence to show he is alive."

    "Dean was such a great guy," says Marcia Byrnes, his sister. "He was talented, so, so talented. It was not like my brother to do anything like disappear intentionally. This was very, very hard on all of us." Mrs. Byrnes says. "My parents stayed up night after night going through things, hoping to find some clue."

    Stanley Mix died 11 years ago, 2 years after his wife. Is Dean Mix alive? Is he running a small airport somewhere, or refinishing cars? Or was he killed in New York after selling the car he labored on for six months.

    "We'll never know what happened," says Mrs. Byrnes. "That's the horrible part. My mother and father died never knowing."
    Last edited by Starless; 08-28-2016 at 11:01 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dean Fellows Mix, Missing Since September 1949

    Notes for DEAN FELLOWS MIX:
    Dean became a missing person in September, 1949, after driving from Los Angeles to New York City with Chester Holland.Dean had remodeled a 1940 Cadillac convertible and took it to Los Angeles to sell.Mr. Holland was the buyer.Dean called home from New York saying he had two cashiers checks in the amount of $3500, not as much as he had anticipated, and would be home the next day.He never arrived.His father had suggested that he convert the checks to New York bonds before he left NYC.Mr. Holland told police, when picked some time later on his way back to L.A., that he had not given Dean checks, butcash, and had dropped him off at Grand Central Station.Nothing further was ever found out.In 1952 Jeane obtained an annulment from Dean.No one has ever heard anything more about him.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Dean Fellows Mix, Missing Since September 1949

  4. #4

    Default Re: Dean Fellows Mix, Missing Since September 1949

    Wow!!! Read the story above about the car. For one thing They have Dean's name wrong but OOOOH boy, Holland didn't waste any time at all shedding that car. Interesting!!!!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Dean Fellows Mix, Missing Since September 1949

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    As it appeared in Rod & Custom June 1954. Photo by Arnold Berman.

    Photo by Arnold Berman.

    Photo by Arnold Berman.

    Photo by Arnold Berman.

    Photo by Arnold Berman.

    1941 Cadillac designed and built by Dean Fellows of Rochester, New York in August 1949. The car was lowered seven inches without any frame modifications. The body was not channeled, however it was sectioned all the way arouind making the car look low, standing only 40 inches from the ground to hood. A metal strip of approximately 8 inches was removed and the to halves of the body was welded together. The fenders were repositioned higher on the body and welded to the body. The doors measured 28 inch from top to bottom, but this did not affect the cars front and rear capacity nor luggage compartment at all. Small fins were adapted to the rear fenders, giving the car a more early 1950s style. A scoop was made on the hood to give space to the carburetor. The grille was orginial, but was moderately reworked to conform a new design. The deck lid was smoothed, and the license plate was mounted to the bumper. The windshield frame was not chopped, and the black top operated as it did before the car was sectioned. Once the bodywork was done, it was painted metallic blue.[1]
    The interor was nicely done with a nice saddle-shop appearance in top grain cowhide which covered all the seats and the door panels. Even the dashboard was covered in rich brown leather. When the rear seats were not in use, a Tarpaulin covered them.[2]

    When it first was done in 1949, it sported a stock engine, however when it was featured in Rod & Custom June 1954, the engine featured milled heads, and a Crawford dual point distributor plate. With its HydraMatric transmission, it accellerated from 0-60mph in seventeen seconds. In average use, the car used just under 14 miles to the gallon. The car was fit with 8.20-15 tires and 1947-52 Cadillac Sombreros.[2]

    In November 1949, the car was sold to Alan Fordney of Malibu, California. Alan went to Walter Storer in Stockton to install a new exhaust system. Alan wanted a straight thru type of muffler wihich he wanted to be as quiet as possible, Alan preferred cars that whispered. He had driven it several times deep into Mexico over a variety of roads ranging from paved highways to rutted dirt paths. It only weight 3000 pounds, and it was equipped with tubular air-craft type shock absorbers which give the car a smooth roadability. By June 1954, it had been repainted white.[2]

    Magazine Features

    Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101
    Rod & Custom June 1954


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