“When November rains, you need someone caring, sharing your nights.” H Chapin
“No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, flowers, leaves, no birds— November!” Thomas Hood
You smell of rich earthy incense, and sex (or is that loamy death?) and exude a soupcon of burlesque. Watch those crazy birds fly by, or are they ducks? Disrobed and disheveled, you’ve strewn your garments on the wind, cast away cares, and shimmied up trees to lodge in the highest reaches. We peek from behind curtains, part the dark, and as 2022 dissipates, a feeling moves from deep inside to tip of the tongue… The midnight of the year’s nearly here!
Decades ago, like a silly goose, I flocked to Ocean City in November, after crowds had left town, and often stopped at M R Ducks, home to the only bar on a dock (with a liquor license) and the famous verse: M R Ducks. No, M R not. M R kites. O S A R Ducks. C M wangs? L I B! M R Ducks… If you understood the shorthand, you speak Maryland Eastern Shore local lingo. If you didn’t, don’t fly off, there’s more…
Indeed, when nature turns to grey and brown, that’s when I turn up and go out. There’s a tune that oft repeats ‘when frost perches on window panes and a fiercer season’s gobbled summer down; when the sun turns traitor…I get the urge for going…cause all that stays is dying…so I’ll be on the wing (Joni Mitchell). Tom Waits had similar sentiments ‘shadows, stars, no moon or cars; November believes it’s only a pile of dead leaves, and the moon’s the color of bone.’ Few ask you November to linger longer than 30 days, though many would like Turkey Day (11/24) to stretch a week long (along with waistbands). Waits would also like you to ‘get word to April to rescue him from cold dreary days, wet boots, and fireplace soot.’
The knapsack’s packed, okay the matched set of wheeled luggage is ready to roll. But where to go? Shall I journey (figuratively) with Isis as she searches for Osiris’ body parts on 11/3? Alas, she only finds 13 of 14 parts. It’s a crucial part that’s missing, the object in my story in progress Grave Goddess; it’s nowhere to be found. Will Isis fashion one from soil, herbs, spices, and chewing gum? Wanna bet headlines should read: Isis loves a phallic challenge–fashions lst robotic erector set. Or should I don woolens and ride with the witch Nicnevin, to harvest, to harvest, to buy a fat pig?
All Soul’s vigil (11/1-2) was once about souling door to door for cakes or pennies, while candles flickered at every window, with a cordial of wine left nearby. Dia de los Muertos is popular today—celebrated in Mesoamerica going on 3,000 years. The dead journey to Chicunamictland (land of dead) and must pass 9 challenges before arriving in Mictlan, but are allowed to feast, drink, and dance with family and friends 10/31-11/2 when borders dissolve. Fair warning, the dead are demanding—get out your best crystal, top shelf booze, offerings of gourmet food. In the Isle of Man, it’s New Year’s day. By the by, Samhain used to be celebrated from 10/30 until 11/7.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded 11/1/1776 for the birds—to give swallows a place to nest? Spruce Goose flying boat departed with Howie Hughes at the helm 11/2/1947, a terribly important year. As was 11/2/1962 when JFK announced missiles were being crated in Cuba. Soviets were packing it up—at least that’s what’s in history books.
Henry VIII defies Rome’s pope 11/3/1534, becomes supreme head of church of England. Guy Fawkes defies, tries to blow up Parliament 11/5/1605. King James hides, Fawkes hangs, and on 11/17/1558, Elizabeth I ascends throne of England, reigning until 1603. Elizabeth II marries her cousin Philip (twice/thrice removed) 11/25/1947. On 11/20/92, fire erupted inside Windsor Castle causing much damage. We haven’t heard the last of the Liz’s. Sometimes things sly slip by—like on 11/24/1998 when Elizabeth II announced a bill to do away with rights of aristocrats to sit in House of Lords, thereby taking away voting privileges extended to nearly 800 Dukes, earls, and assorted nobles for 100s of years. And in Novermber 1992, PM John Major announced Elizabeth II agreed to pay taxes on her personal income.
Not so fast—when Dewey defeats Truman headlines appeared front page of Chicago Tribune on 11/3/48—Truman laughed at the fake news. Russe Bolsheviks got serious and overthrew provisional government 11/7/1917. Lenin became chairman of the board; drole Trotsky and Stalin assumed supporting roles.
At this point, should we skip right to the chart of days (not actual dates)? I should point out EVERY day in November is happy hour & donut appreciation day. It’s hard to honor vegans when you’re a party hardy day of the dead carnivore; ignore #18 if you don’t like leeks and #25 if you’re already ‘parfait.’
Let’s hear it for the girls: Mary Robinson became 1st female President of Ireland 11/7/1990; Nobel prize winner Marie Curie was born 11/7/1867 in Warsaw, Poland; and Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, GA 11/8/1900. The first medical school for women opened in Boston 11/1/1848. Princess Grace (Kelly), a plumber’s daughter, was born in Philly 11/12/1929. She married the Prince of Monaco in 1956 and died in 1982 after plunging over a Monte Carlo cliff. She starred in several movies with telling titles, High Society, Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, and The Swan (dive). Did she really suffer a stroke (at 52)? Did the mechanical brakes fail? Was her daughter driving or was Grace, who didn’t like to drive?
Another Kelly met a most ghastly end 100+ years earlier—in London’s East End. Mary Kelly, aka Marie Jeanette, Fair Emma, & Dark Mary was the last canonical Ripper Victim. She died a horrific death 11/9/1888. Of the 5 official victims, only Mary was photographed post death (as she was found)—piles of bloody flesh, mutilated face, and all. But no heart, as it was missing (implied per Dr. Bond’s report; Dr. Philip’s post mortem report is also missing). <Below, Mary Kelly’s room, exterior view.
As a Ripperologist, I’ve combed clues since the 70’s. There’ve been over 300 suspects seriously considered, including doctors, an American Charlatan, several crazies, a Royal Prince, and a Mason. Recent advancements in DNA testing and a shawl (alleged to have been Catherine Eddowes) turned up DNA on local suspect Aaron Kosminski, a Polish/Jewish barber with basic surgery skills & a frequenter of ladies of the night. His name was noted in Asst. Police Commissioner’s Anderson’s memoir, owned by Chief Inspector D S Swanson. However…in Ripperology, little is clear and supposed facts have been challenged and found to be incorrect. I write a bit about Jack in My Life in Crime (blog) and penned several Ripper short stories. I feel the need to revisit the evidence. And I’m not the only one. There are walking tours offered by 10 different companies seven days a week, though most of the London streets Jack and his vics walked in 1888 are gone. If you want to know more, consider subscribing to The White Chapel Society’s fascinating newsletter.
It’s very clear and sharp, black and white—Kristallnacht 11/9-10/1938 in Germany; birth of architect Stanford White in NYC 11/9/1853 (designed Madison Square Gardens, the Arch, and 3 secretive men’s clubs); and blackout in that same city 11/9/1965—30M people affected. In 1906, White was murdered on the garden’s rooftop by jealous playboy Harry Thaw. The writing was soon on the (Berlin) wall once it went up (and came down 11/9/1989). On 11/26/1789, George Washington (of cherry trees and axes) proclaimed the blade should descend on Mr. Turkey’s neck, marking the lst official Turkey Day in the USA.
Of things lost and found, explorer Henry Stanley found missionary David Livingstone, I presume, on 11/10/1871; Hirohito found an emperor’s crown 11/10/1928; and Richard I’m not a crook Nixon, 11/7/1962 claimed ‘you won’t have me to kick around’ after he lost CAL governor election. Alas, he came back, and was elected pres in 68 (resigning in 74). First female UK PM Maggie Thatcher also quit her gig 11/28/90.
November, were I keeping score, I’d count more lost than found: Great Boston Fire 11/9/1872-800 buildings destroyed, countless lives; 5 Sullivan brothers from Iowa, on USS Juneau, perished 11/13/1942 off Guadalcanal WW2, and on same date 1666, 2 dogs died after first UK experimental blood transfusion. 1000s of Romani folks died after Himmler sent them to extermination camps 11/15/43. Not to mention time lost or at least accosted—with four zones proposed by Charles Dowd across our mostly United States 11/18/1883, and clocks rolled back.
At the intersection of fortune and fate, on this date 11/4/1922, King Tut’s tomb is found, mostly intact in Luzor. Also on this date in 1862 Richard Gatling patents a rapid fire machine gun. It hardly mattered Colonel Chivington didn’t have a Gatling Gun 11/29/1864 when he brutally killed 400+ Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians at Sand Creek, COL—who had already peacefully surrendered. Another 500 souls lost 11/28/1942 when fire erupted inside Boston’s Coconut Grove nightclub—doors had been locked. And in 1703 a great storm swept through southern England. The Thames flooded—8000+ people killed.
Let’s get it straight—in 1979 ~500 Iranian militants storm US Embassy in Teheran, take 90 hostage for 444 straight days. Portuguese explore Ferdinand Magellan passed straits at south tip of South America 11/28/1520, literally sailing from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean. On 11/4/95 Israeli PM Rabin assassinated leaving Peace Rally in Tel Aviv. Was it a lone jewish gunman that did the deed? A provisional peace was declared 11/30/1782 between fledgling America and the English Empire (final treaty signed in 1783, England relinquished all claims).
On November 8, US citizens vote on voting—whether to expand early access or add new ID requirements; demand return of state level repro and body autonomy rights; and will decide about guns and arms and schools and the fools regulating them; and then there’s a vote on the economy—for prices to go down in cities and towns. And the immigration chore, since Ellis Isle closed 11/12/1954. Seems about right Turkey Day (11/24) id held same month as elections.
Of days infamous, November has many, including 11/13/80 Italian earthquake, 300K left homeless; cyclone in Bangladesh, 11/8/1970 500,000 dead; mass suicides/murders at Jim Jones compound in Guyana 11/18/1978; and assassination of President JFK in Dallas, TX November 22, 1963. By whom and why has yet to be conclusively proved. (Note: Pres Clinton, per JFK records act, required that 16,000 assassination docs be released in 2017. DT vetoed that. Mary Ferrell Foundation just filed lawsuit after Pres Biden issued postponement memo. 70% of these records controlled by CIA. See www.MaryFerrell.org site for more info). November 22nd was also date of death of Door’s of Perception’s A Huxley, and the Feast of Diana, a time to commune with wild life, provide an offering—or a sacrifice? Haiti’s Papa Doc bragged he’d voodoo’ed JFK, even got a 11-22 license plate.
If you’re passing through Malta in November to attend their month of the dead celebrations, consider visiting Baron Confectionery in Haz Zabbar to try their Għadam tal-mejtin (dead men’s bones). The outside is sugar cookie with frosting; the marrow is flavored with cardamom, anise, clove, almond paste, and some say something else… Astrologers declare Uranus will be huge in November, and there’ll be an eclipse of full (Beaver) moon (in Taurus) 11/7-8. Scorpio yields to Sagittarius and tension builds as all pretense of warmth absconds with final wings flapping south. Will those in distress send an SOS, first used in November 1905? What does it mean: save our souls; sign of stupidity; same old shit or someone offer succor? Shall we ask Abba?
What say you once 2022’s vibrant colors have leeched back into earth awaiting rebirth—the red of rose, green of lawn and leaf—when even the azure lake’s turned grey? Skies have absorbed the warble and whoosh of birds chortling their so longs. I’m still here, waiting to go, anticipating white of snow, green of fir, orange flames and candle light. I’ve got an urge for going, but whereto (I sigh)? Magical Mystery Tour anyone—the original was released 11/27/1967? If you’re a fan, you’d also know I Want to Hold Your Hand landed here 11/29/1963.
Or should I just roll like a Rolling Stone, the mag first came out 11/8/67? My hounds bark a resounding no–not unless all of them get to go. Somewhere old that fits like a shoe has a certain appeal, somewhere new and mysterious could be the better deal. The past calls, beckons me reach, as do places that live only in memory. Perhaps I’ll just stay home (it is novel writing month), rewatch The November Man, or give the hounds a bone. This November where will you roam? Let me know! Have a most unbeLEAFable November.
The Dear December letter will conclude the Ghost Story begun during Xmas in July blog and wraps up a year’s worth of month oriented blogs. In 2023, I’ll tackle a dirty dozen’s worth of significant and infamous years, including 1917 (you say you want a revolution?); 1947, (baby it’s cold out there); 1968-69 (something’s happening here)…
You obviously get a lot more out of November than me! All I usually get is snow 😦
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I’m a winter person, though I don’t like shoveling it anymore. In TN it melts the next day. How far north are you?
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New Hampshire. every year we don’t get snow by Halloween is a good year. Every year we don’t get it by Thanksgiving is a really good year 😀
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Never look forward to November, but it always surprises me how much I enjoy the month. And then all of the winter! Sleeps become deeper and time stops somewhat as the darkness encroaches and deepens. As for the Ripper, it always looked to these eyes that police covered up some kind of a masonic ritual. What say you, if pressed for a perp?
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I like the bareness of November, all the better to see au naturel…. I agree we do seem to hibernate a bit more and time does appear to deepen, well said. As for Ripper suspects, loaded Q…short answer is my top contenders, after admitting it might be multiple killers and wasn’t limited to just 5 women, are Robert Donston Stephenson, a Brit who ticks all the boxes and had occult leanings; James Kelly (no relation to 5th Vic), a Broadmoor inmate who escaped and was loose during 1888, then escaped to US where killings continued. He was an upholsterer; on the loose for 40 years, then rechecked himself back into Broadmoor! 3rd plausible suspect is someone connected to Royals, either Prince Albert Victor, royal doc, or the Princes’ tutor… I write about Jack in My Life of Crime blog, but have meant to devote entire blog to Jack and the theories so I better get back to it.
Cheers and look forward to your next blog Kevin!
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Jo, first order of business is I wanted to leave a comment when this first got posted but I didn’t have the Leave A Reply available to me. This is the second time I’ve been unable to leave the first comment on your posts…gotta wait until someone else leaves on. I assume this is just another WordPress quirk but wanted to report it in any case. Second order of business…I absolutely LOVE your month-oriented posts. They are stuffed full of great information and fun topics. November has always been a fun month for me and I hope it will be for you as well. Finally, those dead men’s bones look de-lish! Happy November!
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TV programmes tend to somehow glamourise the whole Ripper phenomenon, or to introduce gimmicks, such as Sherlock Holmes attempting to solve the puzzle. Multiple killers must be a possibility. Impressive that you’ve done nearly five decades of your own work Jo.
Entirely my fault this time, Film Authority alerted me RE comments and I fixed it, apologies. Thanks much, it’s been fun committing scraps of knowledge to paper, 1 more month to go then onto grizzly or glorious years. The bones are special, gooey chewy and almondy inside! I’m a fan of your chessboard sideline blogs as well!
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Yes, and too often treat suppositions as truth. The Ripper murders can eat up all your time studying Vic’s, suspects, culture, politics, what ifs….Gave me a mini education in London. Have you ever been on a Ripper Walk? Cheers!