Last week being the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, an expedition funded by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) went off anew in search of her wreckage. As this is written, they haven’t found anything. Nobody really knows where she and navigator went down in the South Pacific. The plane could have been wildly off course; its location could have shifted with the tides and currents after the crash; the Japanese, suspecting the two of spying, could have executed them.
It’s a mystery, one that may never be solved. Dammit.
I like it when the mysteries get solved. To me, this is one of the great things about getting older – having the misery of mysteries alleviated, having the ache of secrets diminished. I loved it seven years ago when we finally found out who Deep Throat was, when Mark Felt, the No. 2 guy in the FBI, revealed his identity. That was totally cool. I wish it would happen more often.
Here’s another long-time mystery, solved just recently (tip of the hat to my friend and ocean liner expert John Edwards): Wartime munitions did not cause the Lusitania to explode and sink too quickly for most of its passengers to be rescued.
There are lots of mysteries whose denouements would be nice to learn. For instance, who killed Elizabeth Short, the woman whose murder became known as the Black Dahlia case? Who was really San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer? What happened to D.B. Cooper after he parachuted out of that 727? Who made Jimmy Hoffa disappear? And Judge Crater? You have to be of a certain age – even older than a Boomer – to remember him; he was an Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court for New York County, appointed by Gov. Franklin Roosevelt, who disappeared outside a midtown Manhattan restaurant one summer night in 1930 and was never heard from again. People had disappeared prior to this, but no one so highly ranked. No evidence of his body, or even a solid reason for his disappearance, ever turned up.
There was, however, an episode of an anthology television series from decades ago – perhaps Night Gallery – postulating the existence of an underground “gallery” in which an eccentric millionaire collected celebrities rather than art work – among them, Judge Crater and Amelia Earhart. (For more on unsolved mysteries, both modern and ancient, see Top 10 Unsolved Mysteries and Another 10 Unsolved Mysteries.)
The major mystery of the Boomer Generation, of course, is who was behind Jack Kennedy’s assassination. I was under the impression that there was a raft of evidence still under wraps, but after doing some digging (well, checking Wikipedia), I discovered that, based on the work of the Assassination Records Review Board, 98% of the Warren Commission’s evidence has already been revealed. Whatever records remain will be revealed in five years, in 2017. The only other missing ephemera are the autopsy photographs and X-rays, which the Kennedy family deeded separately to the National Archives in 1966.
But what about evidence that never made it before the Warren Commission? There’s got to be something out there somewhere. Someone wiser than me postulated that, as the assassins and/or conspirators aged, we would start to see deathbed confessions and other information appear, in the same way that Mark Felt wanted to set the record straight before his death. Was it the Mafia, angry about Robert Kennedy’s pursuit of their operations? Was it the Cubans, angry about being left hanging at the Bay of Pigs? Was it a right-wing conspiracy, angry at JFK’s civil rights leanings?
If there’s a real benefit to having a secret revealed, it’s that it flushes away all the crackpot theories that got in the way of the truth. In the meantime, here I sit, growing older and waiting patiently for enlightenment. Is Jimmy Hoffa really buried under the Meadowlands? At the rate we’re tearing down stadiums in the U.S., we’ll know soon enough. As for Jack Kennedy, I’m fairly sure Jackie had him whacked for cheating on her.