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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Proud Papa

February 3, 2014

Many bloggers take every opportunity to brag about their kids, but up until now I haven’t been one of them. Yet on Thursday our son CJ completed the first round of tests to become a master automotive technician, certified by the ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.) He successfully passed tests covering the following:

 

Engine Repair

Engine Performance

Heating and Air Conditioning

Manual Transmission Drive Axle and 4WD Systems

    

In addition to his BS from the University of Oregon in Environmental Studies, CJ has just completed a two year program earning him an AA in Automotive Technology. His mother and I couldn’t be more proud of him, especially since his grades were good enough to earn him three scholarships. And he achieved this while working up to fifty hours a week as a Records Specialist at our local police department. Frankly, I don’t know how he did it. Sometimes he worked until 2:00 a.m., then raced across town for classes beginning at 7:00 a.m. He also satisfied an ASE work requirement by interning at the police department’s shop over the summer, where he repaired squad cars and other city vehicles. CJ’s plan is to one day open a garage of his own where he intends to restore vintage cars. I think he fantasizes about having an automobile collection like Jay Leno.

    

It’s a safe assumption that CJ did not inherit his interest in cars from me. I can’t fix a toaster, or percolator coffee pot, much less an automobile. He must have received his mechanical ability from his late grandfather, my dad, who was a professional mechanic for the City of Sunnyvale in California. As a toddler, CJ would play endlessly with toy cars and when we’d go for a drive he’d point at rusted-out cars on the side of the road and shout in his tiny sing-song voice, “Broken car, broken car, broken car!” Thirty years later he’s still fascinated with automobiles, and I’m sure this fascination will remain with him for the rest of his life.

    

I’ll wrap up this brag-a-thon by also mentioning that CJ has a degree I haven’t mentioned. Several years ago, after temporarily relocating to Arizona, he earned a degree from a bartending college. My kid makes incredible martinis and Long Island iced teas. I mean really, what more can a parent ask for?

 

    

This is a photograph of the workbench CJ received for Christmas, along with some of the tools he’s purchased since graduating. I wish I could provide information about these items but I don’t know what they’re for. I bet some of you guys, and ladies (I don’t want to be sexist) are familiar with them.

    

Congratulations, CJ, for all your hard work. I can’t wait for you to find and restore a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS for me even though your mother, the lead foot in our family, would probably enjoy it more.

 

 

 



Comments

29 Comments
It's always good to have practical skills like being able to fix cars and mix drinks. Especially if there's a nuclear war or zombie apocalypse or something.
By: PT Dilloway on February 3, 2014
You have it made...he can get you looped while he fixes your car. All my boys can do is fancy computer graphics stuff, or how to do a push-up. I have no interest in either.
By: Cranky on February 3, 2014
What terrific accomplishments! And what a great job pf parenting by you and Mrs. C. Congrats all around~
By: Shelly on February 3, 2014
Now THAT is a skill worth having! And how great that he can do something he loves! Work will never be work. I'm glad you took a moment to be a proud papa. You should be!
By: Nancy Felt on February 3, 2014
congrats, CJ.
By: izdiher on February 3, 2014
you have many reasons to be proud of this hardworking and talented young man. i love that he is pursuing his passion! (and i laughed at your percolator coffee pot thrown in there)
By: TexWisGirl on February 3, 2014
Congratulations to CJ! It must be wonderful to have a mechanic and a bartender in the family.
By: mimi on February 3, 2014
Congratulations on your talented, brilliant son. I hope he makes a round of long islands to toast to his successes. I'd take a drive up interstate 5 for a good mechanic and martini. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on February 3, 2014
congratulations CJ. Stephen you are entitled to be a proud dad, that's wonderful. is mrs c really a leadfoot? lol
By: Fran on February 3, 2014
Brag away, Stephen. If we can't sing the praises of our children who can we praise?
By: Bryan Jones on February 3, 2014
You really have it all now. Please brag all you want. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on February 3, 2014
What a great person to have in the family!
By: Jenny on February 3, 2014
So nice to see you in the role of a proud dad and equally good to learn of the extraordinary talents of CJ. You have reason to beam and CJ would be a valuable person have around. Have you suggested that he could open a custom garage where he'd serve the best of his mixology repertoire as he tuned engines? Talk about a unique marketing edge!
By: Tom Cochrun on February 3, 2014
Manual transmission, huh? If mine ever needs repair, I'm coming to Oregon. Feel free to brag - CJ seems to be a well-rounded and smart young man!
By: Pixel Peeper on February 3, 2014
well done! you've got every right to brag. it's great that he's done so well in his chosen field. may he continue to experience success with it.
By: lime on February 3, 2014
I'm impressed ... actually, I'm VERY impressed "especially since his grades were good enough to earn him three scholarships."
By: tom sightings on February 3, 2014
As a habitual bragger, I say IT'S ABOUT TIME! I would love to hear more about CJ's exploits. I hope he can open up his own shop and live the dream. We had a guy around here who made a fortune restoring and selling vintage autos. Maybe he could start repairing them as a sideline at first, since it sounds like he is a great multi-tasker.
By: Val on February 3, 2014
Sweet! Children are a gift & it is quite acceptable to brag on your present! Especially when they unwrap so nicely...
By: Deborah Evans on February 3, 2014
Every reason in the world to brag!!! What a wonderfully industrious guy you have there!! Good for him! He is obviously very intelligent, and THAT I am sure, he got from his good ol' Dad!
By: Carrie on February 4, 2014
Good for CJ... and good luck with your dream car ~ 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS. Telling your son just how proud you are is awesome.
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 4, 2014
That is SO cool! You'd think as much as I enjoy cars I'd have some mechanical ablities, but like you, I have none. Zero. Nada. I sure wish he'd open a garage here. I would be his first customer. :)
By: Scott Cody Park on February 4, 2014
You certainly have every reason to brag. Your boy is multi talented and deserves your praise and recognition. Thank you for sharing that with us. Congrats, CJ.. and I'll take a martini, please!
By: Hilary on February 4, 2014
Congrats to CJ!! It's fun to bask in a child's success, isnt' it. Plus I am totally jealous that you have a mechanic you can trust.
By: Cheryl P. on February 4, 2014
That's fantastic! Tell him congratulations from a stranger he'll never meet (so, he has that going for him).
By: Al Penwasser on February 4, 2014
Wonderful! He can liquor you up, send you out for a spin in the Ferrari, then fix it once he's separated it (and you) from the tree!
By: Franklin Bruce Taylor on February 4, 2014
wow- I'd be bursting my buttons with pride too! With all his knowledge and education he will go far...kudos to him, Mrs C and you! Teamwork!
By: Kathe W. on February 4, 2014
Congratulations to CJ ... and to the proud parents. He sounds incredible... As for his workbench, let me help you with identification: The black thing in the upper left corner is called a "lamp."
By: Mitchell is Moving on February 5, 2014
Boy he has a lot of great skills - the kind of person everyone wants in their family ;)
By: The Bug on February 5, 2014
You have every ight to be so proud, well done to CJ and his parents for their encouragement.
By: John on February 6, 2014

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