Truth of “Under the Influence” by Phil Hamman Attacked By Sisters
The accuracy and truthfulness of local author Phil Hamman’s book, “Under the Influence” has been attacked by his two older sisters.
Sioux City teacher, Phil Hamman contacted me recently asking for an interview. He was doing book signings in Sioux Falls and was looking to promote them. The book was published by eLectio Publishing from Little Elm, Texas.
Here is a quote from the prologue: “I never had plans to share any of these stories. It started out as a way to stimulate the interest of high school students, to encourage them to write personal narratives in the contemporary Literature class where I teach school(Sioux City). The co-teacher working with me was moved by a couple of the stories and encouraged me to write more and more. I hope by that by reading this, people see that there is hope when they live in a dysfunctional situation; that they can overcome adversity, and most importantly that they can make positive changes to who they are. This is the account of my life, and all of the people and events are real. On a few names have been changed to protect the privacy of those people.”
I read the entire book, because it was about Sioux Falls, and some of it allegedly took place when I was Mayor. It is a hard read. According to the author, his life was filled with fights, abusive parents, drinking and fighting relatives, criminal friends, and his own less than savory behavior. Some of the incidences mentioned seem far fetched, a 100 mph chase through the streets of Sioux Falls, and other run ins with law enforcement.
In advance of the interview, I visited with a former Sioux Falls police officer. He had doubts about the outcomes of events the author claimed happened with law enforcement, nearly 40 years ago. No dates were given, so checking police records is impossible and most of the time Mr. Hamman was a juvenile, so those records would be sealed. Also
The radio interview took place on Monday November 4th at 5:30 pm on 1140 KSOO. The book signings were held the week-end of Nov. 9th.
Two days later I received a lengthy email from a woman in California, stating she is Phil Hamman’s sister. In it she claims many of the events in the book never happened. Here are a couple of examples:
“My dad NEVER EVER touched my mom in anger or used physical violence against HER, EVER.”
“Our dad did drink. He was a week-end drunk….HOWEVER, he was never allowed to drink at home for anything, birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, 4th of July, nothing. I never even saw my dad take a drink until I was 15-16 and would go to the bar and take his keys away from him so he didn’t drive home drunk. Our dad was not a mean drunk. He was stupid, he would go on crying jags about loving us, but he never even threatened any of us.”
“Our kitchen table was never tipped over, EVER because my dad got mad or was drunk. Which means not once did we ever sit on the kitchen floor and eat in fear, EVER.
“Donald Moeller. Did he choke my sister? Absolutely NOT, never happened. There was one instance where there was name calling between my sister and Donny and my sister said something to him…and Donny did chase her up to our front door and he jerked the door open and told her he was going to hit her, but that was all the farther that went.”
There are several other examples citing huge differences between Mr. Hamman’s explanation of events and his sisters.
I have spoken to both of his sisters on the phone. Their stories are similar but they do not use the same words or emphasize the same instances. That leads me to the conclusion that this is not a set up for revenge or any negative payback.
My other conclusions are these:
There is no doubt in my mind that some of what Mr. Hamman has written happened. . However, it is hard to know what is real and what is not. Without police records, sworn testimony, lengthy talks with all the parties involved, I can’t verify the truth or accuracy of the stories in his book.
The sisters have written to the publishing company explaining what they believe to be true and accurate. No response. They wrote to the Argus-Leader explaining their concerns about an article written by one of their reporters about the book. No response.
They asked me to include this with anything I write on this subject:
“To Our Former Neighbors and Friends and Especially our extended family, we want to offer our sincerest apologies for any embarrassment or anger you may feel in regards to our brother, Phil Hamman’s book.
Friends & Neighbors: His book in no way reflects how we felt then or feel or think now in regards to where we lived nor towards any of you. We are very aware of the negative impact this can have on you as it has devastated us immensely that our life was portrayed in this untrue and ugly manner. We remember our neighbors and friends fondly and have many great memories of time spent with you. We have always said we would not change where we lived for anything. It afforded us the opportunity to have the best of both worlds, country living, having our horses and animals and the things we loved and hold dear and also close to the city of Sioux Falls.
To our extended family in Minnesota: We are so, so sorry that a wonderful part of our childhood was lied about and trashed the way it was, and we don’t know WHY. Going to visit you all and the great times we had are memories we will cherish forever. We are so sorry to you and to those no longer with us, who can not defend themselves. We want you to know that we loved and looked forward to seeing them and you and know that the things written about you and your loved ones are and were not true. They are not our sentiments at all.
Again, so very sorry for any hurt or humiliation this book has caused any of you.
Sincerely, Kitty & Ihla Hamman “
This is the first time in over 40 years of public and radio life I have received such correspondence. I write this with the intent of allowing you to read a perspective very different from what Mr. Hamman wrote in “Under the Influence.”
If you wish to read the entire correspondence disputing the accuracy of the book, I will make it available.
If you wish to comment, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org