Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Big Boy Toy

September 7, 2016

On Saturday, Mrs. Chatterbox and I were joined by our son CJ for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that recently opened near our home. As we neared the entrance, CJ spotted something across the parking lot that made him laugh. He pointed at a tractor on a trailer and asked if I noticed anything unusual. It took a moment, but I finally figured it out.


When CJ was a toddler he was fascinated with tiny cars and trucks. Eventually, he ended up with hundreds of them. Two of his favorites were called Red and Yellow, for obvious reasons. He slept with them in his chubby little hands and when we heard the metal cars slide to the floor we knew our little boy was in the land of nod. He played with Red and Yellow so much he ended up loving the paint off of them until both were bare grey metal. I keep them in my nightstand and every now and then I take them out and remember the happy little boy who’d spent hours using my lap as an imaginary construction site.




Someone has a sense of humor


Tonka is a toy manufacturer specializing in diecast vehicles. They don’t make actual trucks and trailers. The owner of the vehicle in the parking lot must have been channeling his inner child when he added "Tonka," making it a big boy toy.




Actual Tonka toy


I wish I could have met this fellow (lady?) to let them know I appreciated their sense of humor. As it turned out, the humor was more memorable than the food.





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That's funny. I think most of us played with Tonka trucks when we were little.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on September 7, 2016
My brothers and I played with our collection of diecast toys, as did my two sons. I wonder if future generations will know how to pretend and use their imaginations.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 7, 2016
That is neat. It's like people who put Transformers logos on their cars.
By: PT Dilloway on September 7, 2016
My youngest was in love with Tonka's and liked watching the real things in action. One day at a construction site, the operator of a "Big Backhoe" let him up on his lap for a minute or two while he dug a hole. Those construction guys know how much little boys dig there digging and do lot on nice things for their admirers.
By: cranky on September 7, 2016
Oh yes, I had a fleet of Tonka trucks when I was a kid. I've heard that today most are made of plastic, and not die cast metal like in the old days. Pity.
By: scott park on September 7, 2016
The "Tonka" mark is very funny. And it's so cute about your sons beloved toys. I'm envying you about the Mexican restaurant. The closest we have here is a Planet Hollywood that has some nice Mexican dishes.
By: Lexa Cain on September 7, 2016
That truck is a hoot!!
By: fishducky on September 7, 2016
I don't know if we had Tonka toys here in the UK when I was a kid. All I do know is that the rapper Pitbull rapped about a Tonka toy in one of his records and it seemed a bit weird.
By: LL Cool Joe on September 7, 2016
Heeheehee! My brothers had Tonka vehicles, they were solid metal and guaranteed not to break. Of course, you could break your little brother's head by hitting him with one, but the head wasn't guaranteed!
By: messymimi on September 7, 2016
very cute. :)
By: TexWisGirl on September 7, 2016
oh my- you are such a sweet father- so sentimental! My boys had little Tonka trucks also...but I have no idea where they went. The toys...not the boys!
By: Kathe W. on September 7, 2016
Love that owner's sense of humor :)
By: Botanist on September 7, 2016
Before I met him, Hick was raising his two older boys and their big brother. Three kids always seem to leave an odd one out. The littlest was about 4 at the time, and being teased mercilessly for playing with his big yellow metal Tonka dump truck. He was on his way upstairs to tell on the other two, when he turned around and yelled, "Leave me alone!" He threw that Tonka for emphasis. They scattered. And left him alone.
By: Val on September 7, 2016
That is funny. Wonder how many grown men he took back with that. I think it is sweet you keep formerly known as Red and Yellow by your bed side.
By: Arkansas Patti on September 8, 2016
Oh how I remember the Tonka trucks and toys. This man who owns this yellow big boy truck does have a sense of humour
By: Birgit on September 8, 2016
I remember Tonka trucks but I can't remember if I ever had any of them.
By: Catalyst on September 19, 2016

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