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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Sorry, Mr. Einstein

June 24, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not a fan of Facebook and other than blogging don’t spend much time on social media, but every now and then something will catch my eye, like this rejection letter addressed to a young Albert Einstein, who’d seemingly applied for a doctorate in Physics at the University of Bern.  It was posted on the Internet to inspire people. After all, if Einstein could overcome rejection, so can we. The Internet is filled with patriotic and morally uplifting platitudes, and if you drew inspiration from this rejection letter please accept my sympathies, but I snickered when I saw this—because it’s so obviously a fake.

 

 

           

 

 

There are two major clues pointing in the direction of this being a hoax. Do you have the sleuthing instincts of Hercule Poirot? Can you identify what they are? Most of you are extremely smart and will have no trouble. The first one is easy; the second might take some thought. The answers are below:

 

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Clue#1   The stamp is a dead give-a-way. It’s a contemporary United States postage stamp featuring a much older Einstein than the twenty-eight-year-old who supposedly received this letter. Why would an American stamp even be affixed to this document? If you look at the barely visible stamp in the top right corner, you can see the first letters of Einstein’s name and the letters USA. I haven’t been able to find a photograph of this stamp anywhere. The popular eight cent stamp from 1968 features Einstein’s name on the right border. There’s another stamp (15 cents issued in 1979) with similar text but the image of Einstein is in profile.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clue#2    Why is this official-looking letter in English? Bern is located in German-speaking Switzerland. Even if Einstein knew English at the time, which I don’t believe he did, why would a Swiss University reject him in English? The famous physicist came to the United States when he was fifty-four, fluent in French but still lacking basic English skills. While teaching at Princeton, his German accent was so thick, his English so bad, that interpreters had to be brought in.

 

It’s also curious that the University of Bern would reject Einstein when The University of Zurich awarded him a PhD in Experimental Physics two years earlier in 1905, and The University of Bern was so impressed by the accolades being heaped on young Einstein that in 1908 he was hired as a guest lecturer.

 

Someone went to great lengths to create this deception. I bet you’ve encountered one or two hoaxes on the Internet. Care to share?

 

 

 

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Comments

18 Comments
A most interesting post!
By: J on June 24, 2016
I'd say a lot of things online are a hoax. That it's in English is a dead giveaway. Someone probably believed it was real though.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 24, 2016
Dang, you are good. I always miss the details. Think that makes me a target.
By: Arkansas Patti on June 24, 2016
It's being in English let me know right away, i didn't even look at the stamp. People have forwarded stuff to me that seemed fishy and i've usually just ignored it or checked it out on truthorfiction.net or snopes.com
By: messymimi on June 24, 2016
Clever at spotting a fake. I've spotted a few online, however, as of this writing I can't really tell you what they were.
By: Michael Offutt on June 24, 2016
VERY interesting post!!
By: fishducky on June 24, 2016
I hadn't seen this one, Stephen. Thanks for sharing. I wonder how many folks have bought it. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on June 24, 2016
The very first thing which occurred to me is why was this thing in English? I didn't notice the stamp-the English thing got me first.
By: Al Penwasser on June 24, 2016
Same here - I immediately wondered why the letter would be in English. Did not notice the stamp. Why do people on Facebook think a quote is true when a picture of Abraham Lincoln is next to it?
By: Pixel Peeper on June 24, 2016
I would not pick up these clues!
By: red Kline on June 24, 2016
Next thing you're going to tell me is that there is no beachfront property in Arizona. Grow up mister :)
By: Rick Watson on June 24, 2016
A great teaching moment about the danger of believing everything you see on the internet. Caveat emptor!
By: Tom Cochrun on June 24, 2016
I picked up on the stamp, but failed to recognize the language the letter was written in English.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 24, 2016
Interesting... with life so full of examples, why do people feel a need to create hoaxes?
By: Sage on June 25, 2016
Haha! Good one! I got immediately that the letter should have been in German, however I missed the bit of stamp in the corner. Not a very clever fraud, but helpful to make people keep trying nonetheless. :)
By: Lexa Cain on June 25, 2016
Zounds, Watson, the game is afoot! I got both clues. Together we shall conquer the Internet and the World!
By: Catalyst on June 25, 2016
I didn't get either one, but let the record show that a bar with Google+ and Twitter and those kind of symbols were right over that area, blocking it from me. The English? Right over my head.
By: Val on June 25, 2016
In English was what I caught! So silly these folks- thanks for the interesting post! Cheers and have a lovely day!
By: Kathe W. on June 27, 2016

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