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

Prologue

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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Killing Camelot

November 22, 2013

It’s hard to believe fifty years have passed since President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. I had just turned eleven and like everyone who lived through those traumatic days I know exactly where I was when I heard the news—sixth grade social studies. Our Principal, Mr. Landis, broke the news over the PA system. I remember his voice trembling as he sent us home.

    

I remember walking home, passing through our neighborhood and seeing adults on porches and driveways—sobbing. I had difficulty wrapping my head around the notion that the nice man with the smiling wife and small kids I’d grown accustomed to seeing on the evening news was gone. I’d never suffered the loss of anyone I cared about, and somehow I cared about this man I’d never met.

     

Thanksgiving came and went that year but I don’t remember it. Turkey was replaced by black and white footage of somber events in Washington, the funeral procession, burial at Arlington and endless speculation on who was responsible for the tragedy. Giving thanks seemed to be the farthest thing from everyone’s mind.

    

Now fifty years later, when I think about that day in Dallas, I notice my sadness has metastasized into cynicism. A recent poll revealed that 67 percent of Americans don’t believe Oswald acted alone. I wasn’t part of this poll but I can be included in that 67 percent. But if Oswald didn’t act alone, who else was responsible? Castro? Organized crime? Did LBJ have Kennedy murdered to keep from being bounced from the ticket? Would the Russians be stupid enough to risk nuclear war by sending someone to murder our president who could easily be traced back to them? So many theories, yet all have been debunked, except one. Like many others, I find it likely that President Kennedy was murdered by his own government, the CIA to be specific. Who was better equipped than the CIA to make a president vanish like a magician’s tiger in Las Vegas, obliterating Camelot along with our collective innocence?

    

It’s well known that Kennedy was at odds with the CIA over the Bay of Pigs fiasco along with the CIA’s continued determination to act on its own to eliminate Castro. I think word got out that Kennedy was going to shake things up, reduce the CIA’s ability to go rogue. Oswald was probably exactly what he said he was, a patsy, secretly employed by the CIA and silenced after doing the dirty deed. Interesting that Allen Dulles, former head of the CIA, was a member of the commission who wrote the Warren Report, declaring Oswald solely responsible.

    

In time, those of us traumatized that day will all be gone. Fascination for a talented young president denied the ability to realize his full potential will fade, replaced by fresher tragedies such as 9/11. But like the recent shutdown of the Federal government and the threat of risking our nation’s credit ranking, it’s possible the Kennedy assassination was not the brainchild of a troubled shooter or hostile foreign government, but was instead a tragedy of our own making. 

    

The CIA has yet to declassify all documents concerning the Kennedy assassination. Until it does, Jack Nicholson might have been speaking for millions of Americans still baffled by the events of November 22nd when he said in A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

 

Understandable; the truth is often brutal, capable of snuffing out the life of anything fragile, such as the rosy glow of a brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

 

 

 

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Comments

27 Comments
It is hard to believe that a CIA plot which would have so many people involved could be kept quiet for 50 years. Someone would talk. Still, I tend to agree with you. If it was mafia, someone would talk for the money. If it was Russia someone would talk as they have nothing to fear. CIA is trained to zip the lip... If so, well done CIA, you got us into the worst conflict in US history (Viet Nam) and you gave us LBJ a bumbling political hack who cared only for his own game, the game of politics and gave us "The great society" How's that working for ya? How great a President would JFK have become we will never know...I think he might have been extra special.
By: Cranky on November 22, 2013
I agree with Cranky. I don't see how something that explosive could have been kept a secret for all these years. Still, I don't see how a gunman using a cheap rifle could fire that many rounds with a bolt action rifle in such a short period of time at a moving target with such accuracy. A conspiracy by just a couple of loonies? That's possible. But a big, massive plot? Too many people would have loved to play "deep throat". Just my opinion, mind you. Good post!
By: Scott Cody Park on November 22, 2013
I agree with you about the likelihood of the CIA's responsibility. I don't agree with the popular opinion that Kennedy (him and the whole clan) were any golden "Camelot." They were a very small step away from the immoral, corrupt people/groups of the 60s. As far as I'm concerned the man was guilty of many moral and ethical transgressions. On second thought, maybe his presidency should be coined "Camelot," considering that story was a tragedy where a good idea was lost beneath personal weakness, immorality, and revenge.
By: Lexa Cain on November 22, 2013
I don't think there was a conspiracy because it would have come out by now...but maybe I am wrong. I have been wrong before, a few times.
By: Tabor on November 22, 2013
I came to believe it was CIA as well. There wouldn't have to be all that many people involved, and when it's over they simply have accidents and apparent heart attacks and whatnot. Poof! All gone but the top one or two. Hey, it could happen. .
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on November 22, 2013
i do believe it will remain a symbol of the end of innocence since even those born afterwards refuse to believe that oswald was behind any of it.
By: TexWisGirl on November 22, 2013
I think it would have been a one in a million chance that someone like Oswald could have pulled this off solely by himself. Possible, maybe, but highly improbable. And I'm with you in thinking the axis of that revolves around Castro, Cuba, et al.
By: Shelly on November 22, 2013
I don't know about any conspiracy, but I do know that Kennedy was one of the few presidents I voted FOR, instead of merely voting AGAINST whoever else was running. In retrospect, I'm not entirely sure that was such a good idea!!
By: fishducky on November 22, 2013
I just watched an NPR special on Oswald and the subsequent assination of Oswald by Jack Ruby. After watching that special I think it may have been the Mafia- and of course the CIA was never mentioned in that special....we may never know the truth.
By: Kathe W. on November 22, 2013
I read a lot of history, most of it in biographies. I'm not sure we'll ever know what happened, but it's possible. Recently I read a memoir by a woman who had an 18-month affair with the president while attending college and working as an intern in the White House press office. She kept the affair secret for many, many years, and was outed only after some oral histories at The Kennedy Library were unsealed. Secrets have a way of coming out. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 22, 2013
for the month of november one of the tv channels here in australia is showing programs etc on jfk. i watched the smoking gun the other night and it is a feasible and balanced theory about what happened. who knows. so many theories and so much speculation.
By: Fran on November 22, 2013
At the time when Oswald was shot, I suspected that he had been effectively "shut up." This is a mystery of our time and sadly, we will never really know. He was the first president I voted for and that day and the week that followed, remains clear in my memory..
By: Akansas Patti on November 22, 2013
Since i was only 4 months old, sitting in my mama's lap as she watched tv when it happened, i don't have much to say except that no conspiracy would surprise me.
By: mimi on November 22, 2013
It's still a great loss after 50 years. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.
By: red on November 22, 2013
Finally, someone who believes Oswald didn't do it and isn't afraid to say it. There was no way that shot to the head came from the 6th floor window. The Mob hated the Kennedy's a lot but I also wouldn't put it past our government to pull off something like this. Not one bit. Great post.
By: Bouncin Barb on November 22, 2013
Interesting...and we may never know the truth. I read an article in the German newspaper today that over 40,000 books have been written about Kennedy's assassination. A lot of people have a lot of theories!
By: Pixel Peeper on November 22, 2013
I heard a fellow on NPR (don't recall his name) who likened the Kennedy assassination to the World Trade Center bombing. Very similar lapses in security, judgment and analysis. Both could have been prevented if the CIA and others had been doing their jobs. But, according to him anyway, there was no conspiracy. The CIA, Castro, LBJ, the Mafia ... none of them were conspiring against JFK. Nor was the CIA or George Bush behind the World Trade Center.
By: tom sightings on November 22, 2013
I'm always up for a good conspiracy theory. You can't always believe what the media feeds you.
By: Val on November 22, 2013
It was most definitely cloaked in secrecy... by design. The speculation, the players, all part of the master plan. Truly sad for the Kennedy's, American's and supporters around the globe.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 22, 2013
I was in Mississippi when both Kennedys and King were killed, and the masses cheered. Did you happen to catch the two hour Frontline program about Oswald this week?
By: Snowbrush on November 23, 2013
What a well-written, thought-provoking post! I, too, have always found it hard to believe that Oswald acted alone.
By: Eva Gallant on November 23, 2013
While I was five when Kennedy was assassinated, I don't remember where I was. People that do remember have parents who remember where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I very clearly remember where I was on 9/11. I so very much hope that today's children will not have their own "Where were you...?" moment.
By: Al Penwasser on November 23, 2013
By the way, I count myself among the 67 percent. Logically it doesn't make sense that Oswald acted alone.
By: Al Penwasser on November 23, 2013
I was 15 in a small high school in lewis county Washington, we got to go home early on the bus..Everyone was quiet I think our turkey day was quiet black and white images of the funeral and little john john saluting his caset as it went by on the tv..I think that day will be in everyone's mind on the nov. 22 2013 50 years later..I was in California not too far from LA when Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed, I had just turned 20 and I remember when Martin Luther King was shot it was before I turned 20 I thought no wonder the song "the day the music died" was so popular..I always thought what if either John F. Kennedy had lived or his brother Robert F. Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..our world surely would be better but it was simply not to be...sad sad defining days in our nations history...
By: mjs on November 23, 2013
It has been proven that one man could not and did not act alone. The patsy was eliminated by yet another vicious killing and we were unable to get more information to try to make some kind of sense of the killing of the president. I was at work, one year out of high school, living in Oakland CA. It was a horrible day that continued to a horrible week. It is so hard to believe something like that could happen even while knowing it really did happen.
By: CiCi on November 24, 2013
A tragic day indeed and one that I am sure is filled with dark secrets.
By: John on November 26, 2013
I, too,was11 and in the 6th grade. I don't remember much about the events of the week but I do remember how sad everyone was. Interesting that you used the word "cynic". There was an editorial on CBS Sunday Morning about JFKs assassination being the beginning of our parents becoming cynical.
By: Cheryl P. on November 26, 2013

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