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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Enjoy these favorite stories from my soon to be published memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope.


When I was ten, I imagined Zorro riding up and down the street in front of our house, protecting the rights of chubby chatterboxes like me. The Fifties were over, and Zorro had been a perfect hero for an era that saw things in black and white. Television, the magical mesmerizer of our childhood, had showed us a world rich with the fullest spectrum of gray...but color was coming.

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In 1962 my older brother David growled at me, “What do you mean you don’t want to play baseball? What are you, a Communist?” 

At ten, I didn’t know what a Communist was, but it sounded bad.

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Santa left a shiny green dump truck for me under our Christmas tree in 1957 when I was in kindergarten. The bed of the truck moved up and down and the turning wheels revved like Dad’s electric shaver. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I couldn’t wait to bring it to school for Show and Tell.

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Ricky Delgado nearly turned inside out the summer of ‘62 when ten rusty carnival trucks rattled onto the fresh asphalt parking lot of the new shopping center that sprang up a few blocks from where we lived. He watched as the attractions were unloaded and assembled: a carousel, a haunted house and a rickety roller coaster. But one attraction captured his attention more than the others—rising into the sky, even higher than the Ferris wheel, was The Hammer.

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The road to Grandma’s house took Dad and me past the old Carmelite monastery. Grandma lived in a bungalow a few miles beyond the monastery and we were on our way to fix her portable record player. It was broken and Dad could fix anything. Grandma was a fun-loving woman with a passion for dancing. Whenever we’d visit she’d make me dance with her while she played Dean Martin’s That’s Amore on her record player. When she passed away she didn’t die on a dance floor, although I like to imagine she did. I can see her arriving at the Pearly Gates, greeting St. Peter while doing The Hokey Pokey and shaking it all about.

>> read more