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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What Were We Thinking?

April 17, 2015




I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so I miss out on Throwback Thursdays. Many of you post vintage pictures, and I’m amazed at how good-looking everyone was back in the day. Sure, the fashions and hairstyles are a bit peculiar by modern standards, but that’s to be expected.


I recently came across a picture that pushes the boundaries of the notion that its healthy to laugh at yourself. The year was 1974. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were both twenty-one, but we look like teenagers. We’d returned to my parents’ house after honeymooning in San Francisco, and had just loaded our possessions into a rented van for the trip to Los Angeles, where a job as an art gallery assistant, paying $2.35 an hour, waited for me.


We look like we’re part of the New Christy Minstrels, about to launch into a rousing version of This Land is Your Land, or about to ride on a float in a Fourth of July parade. These were not “theme” clothes—we actually walked around like this, and nobody stared or thought us unusual. I can’t recall whose idea it was for us to dress in matching, patriotic colors (I doubt it was me) but I do remember those huge Elton John glasses constantly sliding down my nose. When I wasn’t dressed like an American flag people told me I looked like a young Soviet dissident.



Okay, I’m laughing. At least I’m thin in this picture.


Happy Weekend Everyone!






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The matching colors is almost eerie. I looked like a teen into my thirties. If not for the grey hair now, I'd probably still look like one.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 17, 2015
Okay, that is actually hilarious and your hair is ignoring the well defined laws of gravity. LOL.
By: Cherdo on April 17, 2015
You're very unkind to your past and present appearance. Although, I would have made fun of those outfits on my own!
By: Mitchell Is Moving on April 17, 2015
oh, my! so darn cute and fun!
By: TexWisGirl on April 17, 2015
Oh my goodness- aren't the two of you so cute! We all wore clothes like that! When I was a young mother of 21 at the local laundramat I was told by an older woman that I sure was nice to have my baby brother with me while I did my families laundry. When I told her that was my baby- she said "But you aren't even 20"hahah We all had such an innocence about us back then.
By: Kathe W. on April 17, 2015
A great photo, Stephen. Have a nice weekend!
By: Michael Manning on April 17, 2015
Weren't we ALL thin once?
By: fishducky on April 17, 2015
Wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing this.
By: mimi on April 17, 2015
Aww, you two were so cute. Quite a head of hair you had there and the Mrs. is just adorable. Her sweetness is evident.
By: Akansas Patti on April 17, 2015
Did people mistake you for twins, or at least brother and sister? Perhaps it will make you happy to know that I have never been good looking in my entire life, not even in the picture of me in a bikini that was taken when I was about 15 years old. It should have been titled GODZILLA BUYS WHITE BIKINI. Well, maybe not. Men seem to like that photo of me. I don't know why. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on April 17, 2015
Oh my - I LOVE this picture! I especially love your hair, Mrs. Chatterbox's smile, & the contrast between the horizontal & diagonal stripes :)
By: The Bug on April 17, 2015
Nice pompadour! I imagine you were just subconsciously preparing for the bicentennial...two years early.
By: Val on April 17, 2015
When it comes to fashion and appearance, it seems NOBODY was thinking in the 70's. You both look adorable!
By: Pixel Peeper on April 17, 2015
You were a lot less chubby then, just an Average-Sized Chatterbox.
By: Patrick Dilloway on April 17, 2015
Didn't some wise person at some time say it was healthy to be laugh at yourself once in while?
By: red on April 17, 2015
awww. you both look so cute in your matching outfits.
By: Fran on April 17, 2015
I am dying laughing. OMG those clothes!!!!! I thought I wore some weird stuff in the 70's but you win this one hands down, ha-ha!!!
By: marcia @ Menopausal Mother on April 17, 2015
Ah the fashion of the 70's, but actually you were really looking trendy at the time. Who could forget the Bay City Roller look? http://i.ytimg.com/vi/519AjerYFAM/maxresdefault.jpg
By: LL Cool Joe on April 18, 2015
I loved reading the story and your explanation - and then when I got to the pic I burst out laughing! Oh, lord, we had the worst fashion sense back in the day. I wore my share of bell-bottoms and platform shoes, and I had light-sensitive aviator style glasses that darkened in sunlight. Thank goodness I was too poor in the 80s to keep up with those, equally-hideous style trends. Great post! :)
By: Lexa Cain on April 18, 2015
And you would appear even thinner without the horizontal stripes. Actually a nice picture, and so friggin young!
By: cranky on April 18, 2015
We all look corny in old pictures--no? You were born in '53, I take it, which makes you four years younger than I because I go way back to the first half of the 20th century. Yes, wearing flags used to be what "America haters" did. Now, it's what Republicans do, but then I would class them as America haters in that the America I believe in, they want to destroy.
By: Snowbrush on April 18, 2015
Your matching red and black stripes and plaid and all sorts of shapes and solids is outrageously spectacular. Was it planned? I didn't know you two go back to your youth. That's remarkable, and the photo is invaluable evidence.
By: Robyn Engel on April 18, 2015
It's not your fault. It was the Seventies. Now, if that same picture had been taken in the Eighties, THAT would be your fault.
By: Katy Anders on April 18, 2015
You have went from being a Soviet dissident to a closeted-Republican. No wonder Mrs. C keeps such a tight reign on your free time.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on April 18, 2015
Don't be too hard on yourself. Between disco, Gerald Ford, and fashion, the 70s were a disaster.
By: Al Penwasser on April 18, 2015
To be so young......... again.........
By: John on April 19, 2015
Hahaha! I remember people walking around looking like that, on purpose! What was wrong with us back then?!
By: Eva Prokop on April 19, 2015
Yipes! Stripes!
By: Catalyst on April 19, 2015
Y'all were a cute couple. Some of our early photos (my wife and me) are a scream.
By: Rick Watson on April 21, 2015
Pretty cool look... for the period! ;-)
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 22, 2015

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