Last Year, This Year, Rats, Tap Room, the Murky Stuart Case (Once Again)

Last year it seems I spent most of my time in bed, with Moki sleeping beside me. I am writing on a MacAir, tweeting, and/or listening to some audio book. There’s a tube of Fluocinonide on the night table and I periodically feel the plaques on my thighs and backside and rub it in. Also rub it into my forehead when the psoriasis erupts there. It was particularly bad in August and September. End of September I had a horrible abscess pain in the the Bad Tooth (upper right 6yr molar) and went out to find some erythromycin. Bought it at a pet shop at 98th and Broadway, Sept. 27th I think. The abscess subsided after a day or two, but after a few days of the erythro I noticed that most of the plaques were clearing up as well. I’ve tried researching this online, can’t find any attestation to it.

Mice in August. We got 11 with the Tomcat traps. Beginning of September a plague of fruitflies. They were really persistent. Up through November, I think.

And now, in March 2024, the rats have returned. They appeared around December. I thought they’d gone away. I put out trays of benign poison. I trapped three young ones on a glue board. Didn’t notice them for a couple of weeks. Now, with the return of a cold spell (temps in the low 30s outside) they’re scampering out through the radiators. They like to eat paper. They also like avocado pits. Twice I’ve found an avocado pit over by the living room radiator.

I told Charlie about the rats today, and he said there’s an exterminator coming on Thursday. So Thursday, maybe around ten. Must have the place tidied up a little.

Yesterday, the red Harambees to the guy in Hicksville. I see by eBay they’ve been delivered already. I put another few pairs up. The blue Air Zoom Vapors with the Japanese floral design. The Lanangs I wore in Spokane. White to begin with, but I took them outside Chelsea Piers one day and spray-painted them day-glo yellow. I did this after removing the Nike swooshes.

The Jana XCs that I put the blanks into. Didn’t like wearing them, really, a little floppy, so into the sales bin they go. And then the Eldoret II’s, which are really comfortable but I seldom if ever raced in. They have three permanent compression pins, so didn’t race in the Armory in them.

Not getting any bites just now on eBay, though the used yellow Mayflys have had a lot of views.

Argument with some kid on Twitter over the weekend. This led to my futzing around with the iguananews site. A new Thesis was ready to download, and that broke the system for some reason. Then, some hours later, it wasn’t broken anymore. By this point I’d bought a new domain, a free “store” domain, as a rebuild replacement. For some reason that broke. I cleaned out the .store site’s wp install and will redo it. Maybe with a daily pocket cartoon for Iggy. Actually Iggy belongs over in the right rail of the main site.

I’m beginning to think my fun time with Thesis is over. I’m paying $100 per annum for it, and Chris Pearson is demanding that mainly because he is interested in selling his Focus skin. What I really want is his old Press Row theme. Where is it?

Last three days I meant to to TMPL, didn’t. Today went to Tap Room instead, had a double martini and a burger. Got a bill, 64.00 all in. Wow. First time I got a bill. Were my previous lunches free? I think this was my first lunch this month (March). Sent a letter to Michael Gleason, Secy at AC, yesterday, thanking and acknowledging the Z card.

Have been brooding about the Charles Stuart business. How to write it up as a story? It’s a tale that keeps changing in the media in order to push one agendum or another. Initially it was “Boston is crime-ridden and it’s all because of the blacks.” That was during the Ray Flynn administration. This was too good to be true. Charles committed suicide (or at any rate drowned off the Tobin Bridge) two months after he and his wife were shot by the unidentified criminal, and immediately the story turned around, making him the culprit. Charles’s brother was pushing that tale. Apparently it was in aid of a jewelry-insurance caper worth five or ten grand. Now that bit is fishy to begin with. Charles made 100k as general manager of a fur store in Newberry Street, and his wife was a tax lawyer. They were doing well and lived modestly. There was no need for Charles to pull of a small-time swindle. If he was truly larcenous, he would have worked something out at the fur shop. Now, the Boston Globe resurrected the story a few months back for a series with the theme of “Oh what a racist time we were living in then.” But if you followed the tale to the end, and got past the tiresome hand-wringing, you discovered that in the opinion of the writers and the cops and the prosecutors, Charles Stuart was probably not in fact the planner and the shooter. You see, right after the “suicide” we were being told that Charles shot his pregnant wife and then himself. But the trauma surgeon said it was impossible or unlikely for Charles to shoot himself the way he was shot, in the gut. He said this way back when, when Charles was still in hospital. Anyway, the likely culprit was Charles’s brother Matthew. Matthew and maybe one of his MacLean friends. Matthew himself is long gone (drug overdose in a homeless shelter in 2011), along with Charles and Charles’s wife Carol, and the Stuart parents. And the mysterious crimes are now nearly 35 years in the past and there aren’t that many people around still concerned about the whole thing…except it makes for an exciting rehash in the Globe. And since the series needs a theme, the Globe builds it around race.

Looking at some jokey stories I wrote about the Stuart case for Podsnap’s Own in early 1990, I see there was mention of Charles’s plan to rob his fur store. This is evidently yet another doggy tale brother Matthew was telling people. But I don’t recall this coming up in the Globe‘s recent coverage.

Drawing I made back in early 1990. I was in Nantucket, I believe, drawing/tracing with an ArtPen on vellum.

TL;DR: 35 years ago the Globe and others conjured up a story wherein a conman named Charles Stuart murdered his pregnant wife in an insurance scam that went wrong, and he blamed the murder on a black man. It was an unlikely story back then, and now the Globe concedes that it’s still unlikely, and Charles was probably innocent. Having lost a wife and a baby, he may well have been filled with despair and truly did commit suicide by jumping off the Tobin Bridge. But the suicide does not make him guilty of everything else.

Obiter dicta: Curiosity compelled me to enter Charles into Ancestry, and I find that the bloodline of the family is mostly Irish (from Clare and Cork a few generations back) with some Scots. But there is also a Jewish great-grandfather named Hyman Stone, alias Sklarinsky; and possibly a great-grandmother as well: Lithuanian Jews who spent a few years in London before finding their way to Boston. So Charles’s father, Charles M. Stuart Sr., was either half or one-quarter Jewish. The reason I can’t be precise here is that the father’s mother, Ida Stone, was married in a Catholic ceremony and buried with a requiem mass funeral. Both her parents, Hyman and Rachel, are however buried in a Jewish cemetery in West Roxbury. I have a photograph of Ida but that is inconclusive. It appears that some of Hyman’s other children were also baptized and had Catholic marriages. One of them, who appears first as Nathan then as Alfred Stone, in 1931 was married to a Polish girl in Detroit by a Catholic priest. Alfred gave his parents’ names on the marriage license as Henry and Rose rather than Hyman and Rachel. No doubt he had good reasons for such evasions.

But getting past all these trivialities: what I find really noteworthy here is that this bit of Jewish background never was mentioned in any of the news stories I read on the Stuart case. In addition it reminds of me of the strange saga of the Kohn/Kerry family, Jews from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who moved to Boston and took the name Kerry, presumably pretending to be Catholic. When this got press coverage 20-odd years ago, John Kerry said it was all news to him, he had no idea he was half-Jewish. This surprising claim would be easier to accept were it not for the fact that we’ve seen it elsewhere, e.g., in the case of Madeleine Korbel Albright, a Jew from the same part of the world (Czechoslovakia) whose parents “converted” the family to Catholicism in 1941 and supposedly never told Madeleine or her sister their family was really Jewish. For me it strains credulity that one would purposefully choose to pass oneself off as Catholic, rather than pick some less demanding denomination, e.g., Unitarianism or Methodism or low-church Anglicanism, or even Christian Science, where you’re not expected to show up at mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation.