Agatha Christie’s Biggest Mystery

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Agatha Christie’s greatest mystery remains a mystery over ninety-years later. On December 3rd, 1926, Agatha Christie kissed her daughter goodnight, packed a small bag, and left a note for her secretary that she would not be returning that night. She got into her two-seater Morris Cowley automobile and drove off.

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The next day, the automobile was found hanging over a ditch, held back from falling by bushes. An attaché case was found in the car as well as some clothing. There was no sign of the author. Christie was a well-known author by then, her most recent novel at the time was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which made her disappearance international news. Her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, who had recently demanded a divorce, claimed she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A massive search by a thousand police and thousands of volunteers looked for three days before the hunt was called it off. Christie’s bother-in-law claimed to have received a note that read she’s going to a Yorkshire spa for rest and treatment. Not convinced or reassured, the police continued their search.

As the manhunt continued, rumors spread that the disappearance is a publicity stunt, a rumor her secretary vehemently denied. Other rumors claimed the future Dame Agatha was in London dressed in men’s clothing. A spiritualist was consulted, determining Christie met with foul play.

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Eleven days later, the author was found at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate registered under the name of Mrs. Tressa Neele. The Colonel claimed the entire incident was due to a nervous breakdown, and he had no idea about the significance of her alias. That second point was a complete lie. The name belonged to her husband’s lover. Christie knew of the affair and had been distraught.

When the Colonel came to pick up his wife, it’s been said Christie met him with an icy stare.

Fifteen months later, Agatha Christie sued and divorced her husband. In 1930, she remarried. Archibald Christie also married. His new wife, none other than Tressa Neele.

Over the years, many biographers have tried to find out exactly what, why, and where Agatha Christie disappeared. Was it revenge for her husband’s affair, manic depression, amnesia or something else? No one knows for sure. Throughout her life, Christie refused to talk about that period, except once to a British newspaper, and her story revealed few details.

Agatha 1When one of the greatest mystery writers has an unsolved mystery in her own life, you can bet there would be much interest. In 1977, author Kathleen Tynan wrote the novel, Agatha, featuring her own interpretation of what happened during those eleven days. Hollywood released a big-screen adaptation of Agatha in 1979 starring Vanessa Redgrave at the shy author, Dustin Hoffman as a fictitious American journalist, and Timothy Dalton as Archibald Christie. More recently, two British Made for Television films, Agatha and the Truth of Murder (2018), and Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar (2019) turn Ms. Christie in Jessica Fletcher. A third film in the series is scheduled for this year.

Woodstock – It Was 50 Years Ago Today

It was 50 years ago today in the small upstate  New York town of Woodstock where more than 400,000 young people came for three days of music, peace and love. This week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and all it came to represent: love and peace triumphing over hatred and war, everyone’s sharing the earth in peace. It was the age of  Aquarius.

Sadly the spirit of Woodstock didn’t last. We live in a world where love and peace are in short supply, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to be the best we can.

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Shelburne Museum: The General Store

If you are ever in Burlington Vermont, drive over to the nearby town of Shelburne where you will find the Shelburne Museum. It’s not your typical museum. Located on 45 acres of land there are 39 exhibition buildings consisting of a wide variety of art, prints, folk art, and plenty of Americana.

The General Store dates back to 1840 and was a fascinating look back.

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Haugee’s Cod Liver Oil, Renne’s Oil Compound, and Hanford’s  Balsam of Myrrth were some of the health aids available back in the 1800’s, but the best or at least all-purpose was DeWitt’s Stomach Bitters, an all-everything concoction for improving your appetite, invigorating the system, regulating the bowels, Liver and Kidneys, curing Dyspepsia,  heartburn and a sour stomach.

The label goes on to say, it’s an invaluable aid to persons in delicate and feeble health. Restoring strenght (that’s the way it is spelled on the label) and vigor to wornout constitutions.

Directions: a wineglass full before or after each meal.

A  wineglass is most appropriate because most of these types of “medications” contained quite a bit of alcohol.

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One of the brands on the above shelf are still in business..Durkee’s.

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I have no idea what or how these pills were meant to help. The  web revealed nothing when I typed in the name other than lot’s of hits on Harvey Weinstein and pills that will enhance your sex life. I doubt this Harvey had much to do with either.

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Men and Women’s hats of the day.

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Some of the products sold in these bottles include Citric Acid, Gylcerin, Sodium Bicarbonate, and Antimuniun Crud. The last word most likely should be read as Crudum.  The bottle’s label is worn after the “Crud” so likely it was spelled correctly as Crudum.

Gasparilla in Tampa

 img_4468Gasparilla has been a Tampa tradition since 1904. This weekend is the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates along with other related events. An opportunity for folks to gather, dress up as pirates, wear beads, watch fancy floats as well as watch a flotilla of boats invade the harbor. Generally, have a lot of fun. For a few its just another opportunity to get drunk. Continue reading “Gasparilla in Tampa”

St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery

You don’t have to be Catholic, Lithuanian or particularly religious to enjoy a visit to the magnificent grounds of St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery and Guest House. It’s located in Kennebunk, ME on more than 46 acres of land. The beautiful and lush landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of New York’s Central Park, The Boston Common and many other urban parks.

What may seem a little strange at first is that the monastery building looks very much like a Tudor style mansion. That’s because it was exactly that years ago. Originally commissioned by William A. Rogers an industrialist from Buffalo, New York who purchased the property in 1900 from the family estate of John Mitchell, a Christian religion professor. Mitchell purchased the land from Lt. General Sir William Pepperrell who took the land from the Indians way back in the late 1600’s.

In 1937, the mansion was sold to Mildred V. and William N. Campbell. Mildred was the daughter of Sanford textile tycoon, Louis B. Goodall. William N. ran the Goodall Mills until 1944. Three years later on September 8th, 1947 William died. That same day, Mildred sold the estate to The Lithuanian Society of Franciscan Fathers of Greene, Maine. The price was a mere $150,000.

Over the years additions were made both inside and outside on the grounds. According to the brochure the Shrine of St. Anthony was added inside the building in 1952. In 1953, the outdoor Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto was constructed. It was designed by Lithuanian Architect Jonas Mulokas, a first prize winner of the American Architect Association.

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In 1959, a second shrine by Mulokos, the impressive Chapel of the Stations of the Cross was built.

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Within the Chapel of the Stations of the Cross are the individual stations. The individual stations  were sculptured by Vytautas Kasuba. Kasuba was awarded the Gold Medal for Art at the 1937 World’s Fair. Some of the stations are shown below.

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Stations of the Cross - St. Anthony Monastery - DSC_0017-Edit-Edit-EditSt. Anthony’s Chapel, inside the monastery (mansion), was finished in 1965-66, a combination of old and new world. The architect was Dr. Alfred Kulpa of Toronto, Canada.

The stained-glass windows, chandeliers, candlesticks and other interior decorations were designed and produced by  Lithuanian born artist Vytautas K. Jonyas. Jonyas is also represented outside on the grounds   with a magnificent sculpture pictured below. It originally was designed and created for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. A sign next to the artwork reads “it depicts the church militant, the church suffering and the church triumphant, that is, the church here on earth, in purgatory and heaven. In 1967, the Franciscan’s in Kennebunk, ME dedicated this historical work of art to the silent church in Lithuania.”

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Strictly for boys of Lithuanian decent, St. Anthony’s High School which closed in 1970, had a student body consisting of Lithuanian boys from all over the country and Canada. They lived at the school as well as studied and performed all other forms of high school activities such as sports. All under the watchful eyes of the Franciscan Fathers.

The Franciscan Guest House I mentioned early on is also on the grounds. While it is a separate entity from the monastery, they both share an awareness or an appreciation for Lithuania. The main building, there are various smaller buildings that also have guest rooms, was originally the boys’ high school. From the outside, it looks like a school. Inside, it has all been reconfigured with individual rooms and baths.

Today, the former high school, now a guest house consisting of 65 rooms is a pleasant place to stay while visiting the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport area of Maine.

Below are a few more photographs.

Lithuanian Shrine8CW-3841Stained-glass window inside the side chapel.

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Saint Francis Fountain

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Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Wadsworth-Longfellow House-Portland_IMG_3402-001My  wife and I recently spent a few days in Maine. One of our stops was the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Located on Congress Street, the home is now operated by the Maine Historical Society. It is one of the oldest standing structures in Maine as well as the childhood home of poet Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow. Continue reading “Wadsworth-Longfellow House”