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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Washington is Bugged

March 24, 2017
No, I’m not going there. This isn’t about politics. This is about a different kind of bug.
When CJ was twelve we made a trip to Washington D.C. The time was soon coming when he’d become a surly teenager not wanting to vacation with his uncool parents. He was studying US history in school and was the perfect age to be exposed to the capital. Money was tight, but Mrs. C. found a hotel ...

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People Soup

March 22, 2017
Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Years ago I was not the sophisticate I would later pretend to be. I’m thinking about a time when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were newlyweds and had recently moved into a small one bedroom apartment. Money was tight; after paying our rent and other expenses there wasn’t anything ...

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Controversy at Chubby Chatterbox

March 20, 2017
The photo accompanying this post shows all my posts since starting Chubby Chatterbox seven years ago. I’m a terrible typist (actually I don’t type) so I peck these out the night before they’re posted. Mrs. Chatterbox, a former English major, checks them for inevitable typos and grammar issues—an answer for those of you who’ve asked if she reads my blog.
Believe it or not, I’ve ...

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Fun with Flags

March 17, 2017
He was swarthy enough to look exotic, a fact he exploited, telling friends his blood was Middle Eastern. His name gave credence to the ruse—Hassam—which sounds like Has’sam (Arabic) although it was actually pronounced HASS’m.
Childe Hassam was an American Impressionist painter, but for years he included a crescent moon with the signature on his paintings. He even adopted ...

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Spiders and Sputnik

March 15, 2017
This post is an edited excerpt from my biography The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.
I was a first grader in 1957, and one day after lunch our teacher pulled out a book and began reading a wonderful story called Charlotte’s Web, the tale of a spider who befriends a piglet. There were many super illustrations, making it easy for Miss Ludlum to cover a ...

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A Good Book

March 13, 2017
I’ve lived much of my life with a book which, until recently, I’d never read, a book belonging to my mother. I remember seeing it on a bookshelf as a child, listening to Mom talk about it over and over when I started writing in earnest. Mom would have been a child when she first read it, and it made such an impression that eighty years later after she passed and I was closing down her apartment, I happened ...

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Incredible Spaghetti!

March 10, 2017
I haven’t been eating much spaghetti lately, but this post from 2013 reminds me of the best spaghetti I ever ate.
The other day Mrs. Chatterbox made spaghetti. I like spaghetti well enough but this spaghetti was different. It was—incredible, so good that after a few mouthfuls I could barely concentrate on what I was eating. I finally set down my fork and said, “What’s ...

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Another Parody

March 8, 2017
Back when I was teaching classes at our local art college, students often asked me where my illustration ideas came from. I’d point out that a rich source for ideas could be found in parody. Not long ago I published two posts, one on artistic parodies and the other on American painter Andrew Wyeth. This post combines the two. You probably know that a parody is a lampoon, caricature, imitation ...

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Peculiarities #3

March 6, 2017
 I’d just climbed into a barber’s chair when the front door opened and a raggedy fellow entered, struggling with a peculiar item under his arm.
“Anyone want to buy this?” he asked, extending his chin in the direction of the thing in his arms.
The occupants of three other barber’s chairs shook their heads, along with the scissor-wielding barbers hovering behind them. ...

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Pet Alternatives

March 3, 2017
Mrs. Chatterbox and I are empty nesters. I’ve worked from home for years, although I consider myself retired, and after twenty years with our police department Mrs. C. will be retiring in October. We’ve discussed getting a pet but so far haven’t made the trip to the Humane Society.
A pet would add a fresh perspective to our lives but we plan to travel more and don’t relish the idea of kenneling ...

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Stephen Hayes
(a.k.a. Chubby Chatterbox)
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