He stands in an entryway, all concrete and steel, and dank like a cave. On each side is a tunnel. He takes the tunnel to the right, clomps down a metal tube about 50 yards long. It is large enough for him to walk through without bending. The tube leads to a cave about the size of a basketball court.
Piles of debris can be seen in the semi-darkness. Davenport offers up specs corroborated by military documents : The ceilings are 16 feet high, the walls 18 inches thick. The complex, made of 3 million tons of concrete, can withstand a blast 50 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb at a distance of 1. He returns to the vestibule and enters the other tunnel, similarly constructed, which opens into another cavernous space: the missile room. The complex was known as a "coffin launcher. Above, the ceiling was a sliding metal door, which opened as hydraulics raised the rocket for launching.
Toward the back of the missile room, shrouded in darkness, sits Davenport's life work: a collection of tens of thousands of reports on UFO sightings from all over the world. He has files from long before the television show "The X-Files" brought the paranormal to prime time. The information is meticulously labeled and filed in a long row of mismatched metal file cabinets. They form the shape of a miniature city skyline. The plan was to live and work in here. But the site needed more work than expected. The place leaks. The ventilation isn't good, and there's a little bat problem.
For now, the center's phone and answering machine will stay at Davenport's Harrington apartment, a few miles away, until Missile Site No. Davenport is doing most of the fixing up himself. Shadows flicker as he shines his flashlight around. He walks to the nearest cabinet, opens a drawer and randomly pulls out a thick sheaf of files. Call logs.
A file for every month. A sampling of entries: Jan 6, Warm Beach, WA. Two women observe a strange "rope of light," with a bright sphere attached. Jan 6, Glendo, WY. Mother and son witness large glowing craft maneuver into cloud. Pursued by mil. Makapuu Point, HI. Man and wife observe bizarre hump-backed triangular object over sea.
Opaque windows. Many more prove to be hoaxes. My aim was simple. Are they there for the grades alone? The partying? I suspect that he was a man with very few responsibilities, no children to rear, and no payroll to meet. If you should prefer to understand that children are those human beings who have not yet found the grasp of their own minds, then the task you have given yourself, that task of rearing a child wisely and well, is suddenly transformed from indoctrination to education, in its truest sense, and made not only possible but even likely—provided, to be sure, one little prerequisite, which is that you are not a child, that you have come into the grasp of your mind.
Here is a truth that most teachers will not tell you, even if they know it: Good training is a continual friend and a solace; it helps you now, and assures you of help in the future. Good education is a continual pain in the neck, and assures you always of more of the same. As such, Mitchell cannot tell anyone How to Live. The book inspired me to find new ways of challenging my Freshman English students. Those who chose to take it would stand on the other. The undecided would sit in the middle as the rest would try to persuade them to come to their side. The students were evenly divided, with only a handful in the middle.
He sat in the middle with a serious look on his face, while students around him had fun trying to persuade him to take their side. In , I received an email from Richard Mitchell, five years after he had closed the Underground Grammarian. The year before I had created the Underground Grammarian website, using optical recognition software to scan his out-of-print books and make them freely available online. He had already given permission to copy or plagiarize his writings in one of the newsletters.
But did that extend to his books? Happy but horrified by this first contact, I explained that I wanted to make his works freely available to teachers and anyone else who wanted to enjoy them. But, if he preferred, I would remove the entire site. He replied that he was fine with the work I had done, just as long as I kept it freely available.
I breathed a sigh of relief, and we embarked on an occasional correspondence. In one email, I told him about how I used The Gift of Fire in class, and mentioned the exercise I conducted and the young man who had asked about the importance of his decision.
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I cannot say that Mitchell taught me reason from rubbish. More accurately, from his lucid writing I caught the ability to tell reason from rubbish. I learned that he, as well as Dr. Bell, among others, burned with a cleansing fire that cleared away some of the dross within me. I learned that great teachers create an environment where true education is caught, not taught—the occasion of education—and that we now live in a world with fewer and fewer great teachers.
Richard Mitchell died at his home on December 27, A memorial was held at the university where he had taught all his life. I published a call for stories from readers who knew Richard Mitchell to post on the site, and the messages I received are a testament to the affection with which he is remembered and the influence he had upon those his writing touched.
Today, in a world awash with emotional reactiveness and churlish rubbish that crowds out precious reflection and reasoned conversation, I ache for the wry humor and penetrating insights of the man who ended his life so far above ground—Professor Richard Mitchell, the one and only Underground Grammarian. He continues to curate the Underground Grammarian and encourages those who knew Richard Mitchell to send him their stories.
As a long-time fan of clear thinking and clear writing, I thank you for introducing me. Glassboro was once in the news as the site of a summit conference in between LBJ and Kosygin. Glassboro Summit Conference. Thanks for bringing it to my attention once again. Good to know the author created a website for it.
Not only does the blatant politicization of education threaten its integrity, but so does a lack of respect for the core tenets of a well-rounded and effective pedagogy. Alexander has, I do respect that in this day and age, even with a lack so thereof of good education, people can appreciate that there is still a glimmer of hope.
I remain doubtful as to whether the issue will only become greater as time passes; whatever the case, a good article and a perspective worthy of recognition through the ages. I have long read you mentioning The Underground Grammarian, but never took the time to know what it was. Samuel Coleridge said that watching Richard Keen in Hamlet was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning. That is how I felt reading this great article. But of course, I soon realised that the reason why this article was slightly odd was that it was steeped in American culture and idioms.
And although the American culture has permeated much of the rest of the world, when it is seen up close it can still seem quite odd to those of us from the rest of the Anglosphere. Bravo to both! His greatest venom is saved — as one reading the article might guess — for people whose business it is to teach, yet who cannot communicate clearly.
This immediately brought to mind the modern NPC meme. It was surprising how telling a blow it struck, the simple comparison of activists to video game characters who can only speak wrote. But it brought home the fact that these people who styled themselves freedom fighters were in fact exceedingly dogmatic, and did not dare speak out of turn. Call me insane, but the only significant difference I can see is that the first note is from a person of equal status to the recipient, seeking agreement as to when they should meet.
In the second two the person is now of higher status and can set the meeting time without requiring assent, and does so in a simple but slightly formal manner. The third includes more actual information about the meeting, and the implication is that we should treat these extra perfectly meaningful words as some kind of waffle, simply because they make the message longer. Strike the clause. But it does seem hard to see this as the problem with language. Seems somewhat farcical for a man who champions Shakespeare and Austen to condemn a meeting memo because it contains two or three more words than is strictly necessary.
Klaus: I am hardly a person to criticise you my writing is obscure and my grammar almost non-existent but you seem to be to a pedagogue. I suspect a lack of imagination as this can be a block to full understanding. What Mitchell is saying is, to me, very important and a foundation stone of the mess we have created in basic education since Just got done watching the debate with Jordon Peterson with a panel of australians.
I have come to the realization that the only gender that matters is the biological one. Sorry you were born with a penis. Everyone just pretending. This is the best article I have read here. Thank you. What a great discovery. A little harsh on vocational training. Vocational teaching will only incidentally shape how someone views things outside of the remit of the intended field of employment, whereas a deficient liberal education can warp how one sees the entire world.
Yes, my take as well. If workers are not forced into labor, they are not slaves. It sounds like a poor use of language, histrionics over clarity of thought, as if the food Adler ate, the clothes Adler wore, the transportation Adler took, the buildings Adler learned and taught in, etc. Yes, I agreed with much of the article embracing my inner Ed Reardon but that line reeks of class prejudice. I met him when I was a child, my sister and Dr.
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My English teacher was a huge fan and we would read the UG in class. I hope to now read at least some of his work in preparation for homeschooling my children. People who proselytize for grammar and clear writing seem to have little to say for themselves and then settle on this trivia to claim their superiority. Is this article an example of clear thinking? It is a pile of self aggrandizement. The quotes do not clarify what it is to think or write clearly.
They are simply unjustified claims of superiority in purple prose. Or that those who attend university are someone getting a broad education rather than learning skills for jobs…. Thanks for this article. I have started to read Mitchell now. Thanks for the interesting article. Some of the quotes are wonderfully funny. I just have some questions about this sentence:.
I thoroughly enjoyed the article, and have long held that the importance of clear and direct communication is not given its due. It is good to see a contribution to at least one of these three. As a young lad, I thought my sense of humour was unique. Then I discovered the bone dry wit of Gamesmanship, and therein Mr. Potter put forth a display I could scarcely believe. I presume he is referring to the countries that where behind the Iron Curtain. Did he visit them all, and conversed at large with their ordinary citizens?
Did he seek out their thoughts, their sense of humor? He was just guessing, through what must have been dubious, second-hand evidence. And, to be honest, I find much more uniformity of thought and conformity in the present-day United States than I did in Belarus during the Soviet times. Freedom suggests that 7. I think that is what Mitchell was condemning, but also to tyranny throughout the history of our planet. Since you seem to have grown up under that regime, you may not quite fully appreciate how resisting it probably became an almost automatic mental defensive habit among you and those around you then.
The depression and anxiety, at last, had context as symptoms of a larger illness. Having borderline personality disorder can mean experiencing a distorted sense of self. Fears of abandonment and behaviors such as self-harming can make even healthy relationships difficult to maintain. In a photograph taken in Paris last year, Dimond stands, completely nude except for her Keds, which are untied. She gazes back at an ominous trailer-home with dark black windows, but her feet remain facing forward.
You will never know how important that moment was to me. Through the online photo-community — Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr — Dimond has met some of her best friends, quite a few of whom are at the fairy party tonight. We stay until most people have left, and then we, too, leave. In her VW, headed back toward the freeway, toward home in North Hollywood, Dimond is quiet for a moment. We humans are far more complex than the news headlines and clickbait would have you believe. Let the Narratively newsletter be your guide. Love this Narratively story?
Sign up for our Newsletter. Send us a story tip. Become a Patron. Follow us. How a brilliant scientist went from discovering a mother lode of treasure at the bottom of the sea to fleeing from authorities with suitcases full of cash. Thompson had long insisted that he suffers from neurological problems and chronic fatigue syndrome, which impairs his memory, and that his meandering explanations were a symptom of the distress foisted upon him.
Thompson was genuinely sickened and overwhelmed, however, and he found it extremely frustrating that nobody seemed to take his condition seriously. In the 30 years since, the weight of the find had upended partnerships, ended his marriage, and set loose the specter of greed. What began as a valiant mission of science turned into something else entirely. O n September 11, , about 7, feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a set of glowing orbs moved smoothly through the darkness and illuminated the mysterious world below. That far down there are few currents, the water is close to freezing, and it is almost pitch black.
The only light typically comes from the bioluminescent creatures that float by like ghosts, but in this case the lights were from a six-ton, unmanned vessel. The Nemo , looking like an industrial freezer with two robotic arms, made a small adjustment to its thrusters and hovered above the scattered remains of a sunken ship. Video of the wreckage was relayed to a vessel bobbing above, giving the crew — and the world — the first look at a ship whose location had stymied treasure hunters for generations.
It was the SS Central America , a massive side-wheel steamship that sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in The find was remarkable for many reasons. The artifacts eventually recovered from the ship were a window into a bygone era and gave voice to the hundreds of people who were pulled into the abyss.
But the discovery was also a spectacular victory for pocketbooks — the ship was carrying gold when it sank, and lots of it: coins, bars and nuggets of every size surrounded the wreck and covered its decks and rotting masts. And that was only what the crew could see — somewhere in the remains were said to be between 3 and 21 tons of gold, a haul some experts valued at close to half a billion dollars.
For Thompson, the Edisonian genius who masterminded the expedition, the discovery was the first salvo of what looked to be a long, impressive career. He became an American hero, a mix of brains and daring in the tradition of the scientist-adventurers of yore. But Thompson was subjected to a legal hell storm as soon as he set foot on shore.
Numerous people and companies were vying for their share of the gold, and the unending litigation was compounded by the lawsuits filed by investors who claimed Thompson had ripped them off. In , long after the litigation had sidetracked his calling, Thompson went underground, allegedly taking with him suitcases full of cash and gold. Months later, Thompson was staying under an assumed name at a hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, trying to keep his faculties in check.
He was unkempt, unwell and barely left his hotel room, as he had been on the run from federal authorities for the past two and a half years. From the witness stand in Columbus, Thompson disclosed startling information in a story already laden with tragedy and fortunes lost — and shed light on the mystery of millions in still-missing gold. The pressure 8, feet below the sea is times greater than on the surface, and Tommy Thompson was squeezed by something even more intense for the better part of 30 years. He grew up in Defiance, Ohio, a small city in the northwestern corner of the state.
He was always drawn to the water, and he enjoyed challenging friends to breath-holding contests. When he was a teenager, he bought and fixed up an amphibious car, and he loved pranking his friends by driving unsuspecting passengers into a lake.
Rife with lore, the hunters spoke of ships sunken somewhere out in the ocean with more gold than could ever be spent. However, nobody knew quite where to start looking, nor could they afford the technology necessary to undertake the search. Following his graduation from The Ohio State University with a degree in ocean engineering, Thompson went to work for the Battelle Memorial Institute, a prominent research lab in Columbus that has developed everything from kitchen appliances to nuclear weapons.
There, he was able to work on deep-sea engineering projects, at one point developing technology that allowed the U. Thompson wanted to work exclusively in deep water but was routinely warned that such jobs were hard to come by. So he began looking for other ways to pursue this heady scientific passion.
Messaging the Blackman
It was actually the means to an end. One of the first orders of business was to find the perfect wreck to hunt. Thompson worked with Bob Evans, an equivalently intelligent polymath and professional geologist, to winnow down the list of candidate ships. The Central America ferried passengers to and from California at the height of the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century. Six hundred people, and up to 21 tons of gold coming from California, were aboard the Central America when it disembarked to New York from a stopover in Cuba on September 3, Five days later, the ship found herself floundering in the middle of a terrifying hurricane.
Passengers attempted a hour nonstop bucket brigade to keep the ship afloat, but the engines flooded and the storm ripped apart masts and sails. The ship was doomed. The vessel let out a final tortured groan as it sank on the evening of September 12, sucking souls down in a horrifying vortex. The loss in gold was so profound that it was one of the factors precipitating the Great Panic financial crisis of Finding the Central America would be no easy matter — proportionally it would be like finding a single grain of sand in the floor plan of a four-bedroom house.
The key, Thompson knew, was to undertake a logical and hyper-organized search. Bob Evans used every known detail about the fateful voyage, including passenger and crew accounts of the weather as the ship sank, and worked with a search theory expert to determine that the wreck was likely somewhere in a 1,square-mile grid miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, in part of the ocean that was nearly a mile and a half deep.
Each square on the grid was assigned a number based on the likelihood that the ship had ended up there, and the idea was to trawl a sonar apparatus up and down the grid and take in-depth readings of the most promising results. Obsessed with his work, Thompson was said to be indifferent to food and sleep, dressed in a thrift store suit and hair afrizz. As a result, the high-powered investors waiting in their upper-floor offices and elegant conference rooms were often skeptical of his bewildering presence. But time after time, Thompson would speak to them reasonably, thoroughly and intelligently.
He was realistic about the low probability of success, outlined various contingencies, and emphasized that the mission offered the chance for the investors to participate in a journey of good old American discovery. Investors soon found themselves chuckling in delight at the audacious fun of the project and the inspiring confidence they felt in Thompson. Wayne Ashby told the Columbus Dispatch in Thompson was the head of both. Under the aegis of these companies, Thompson outfitted a search vessel, put together a crew, and developed a seven-ton remotely operated vehicle capable of withstanding deep-ocean conditions.
They also conducted various other experiments useful to the recovery, such as purposely giving Evans the bends. As Gary Kinder writes in Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, the deepest an unmanned submersible had gone previous to this was 6, feet. That vehicle had been difficult to control, with only one arm that could perform rudimentary functions. The technology Thompson and his crew developed in secret streamlined and refined the submersible so that it was much easier to control and could perform the delicate tasks needed for the recovery of the ship.
It was one of their secret weapons, and the mission to find the Central America was officially launched in June The mission was subject to numerous difficulties: seasickness, short tempers, errant weather, malfunctioning equipment, little sleep, and a stretch of time when the only food served was fried chicken. Investors groused about the delays, but Thompson always managed to assuage their fears. In late summer , the crew sent the submersible robot down to check out an overlooked blip on the search grid.
The control room aboard the ship, with its walls of monitors and technology that made it look like an alien craft from an old movie, exploded with profoundly human joy. Gold and artifacts were brought to the surface starting in fall , the beginnings of a haul that would grow to include gold ingots, 7, gold coins, and, at 80 pounds, one of the largest single pieces of gold ever discovered and at the time the most valuable piece of currency in the world.
Wayne Ashby told the Dispatch when the discovery was announced. When asked by a reporter to estimate the value of the haul, Thompson demurred. The first haul of gold was taken from the ship straight into armored cars by guards carrying machine guns amidst cheering investors, well wishers, and descendants of the survivors of the Central America wreck. But as it would turn out, that brief glimpse was the closest any investor would ever get to the treasure found at the bottom of the sea. I n , the Columbus-America Discovery Group had secured its right in admiralty court to excavate the Central America site and retain possession of whatever they discovered beneath the sea.
But this ruling was challenged almost as soon as Thompson set foot back on the shore. Thompson and his companies were sued by no less than separate entities, including 39 insurance companies that had insured the cargo on the original Central America voyage. Things got even more complex when an order of Capuchin monks sued Thompson, alleging he had copped the intel given to them by a professor from Columbia University whom they had commissioned to do a sonar search of the same area. Recovery operations were suspended in because of the lawsuits, leaving the fate of the gold brought to the surface in legal limbo — and tons of gold still on the wreck at the bottom of the sea.
The back-and-forth continued until and in the process established case law in admiralty court when Thompson and his companies were finally awarded Coupled with a significant devaluing of the rare coin market, a few investors wondered about the future of their investment. The pressure mounted as Thompson attempted to balance his obligations to his crew, his companies, and his investors while being a dad to his three kids. He was right there, every time there was a hearing. He read every page of every brief, and a lot of times he was helping with the writing, too.
Army, but this later proved to be a myth. Meetings with investors became less frequent, they said, as did updates and newsletters. Once lauded for his openness, Thompson appeared to go into a shell. Thompson said that his silence was necessary to protect trade secrets. By , some of the investors were fed up with the way Recovery Limited Partnership was being run and made moves to establish another company, this time with the investors in charge.
Don’t settle for just one book.
The companies were restructured, with the reworked Columbus Exploration as a partner company to Recovery Limited Partnership. Thompson was again the head of both entities, though it was stipulated that he would draw a salary only from the former and not the latter. Much of it was sold to gold and coin dealers, and some of the treasure was displayed in a lavish traveling exhibit across the country, with Thompson sometimes making an appearance alongside his discovery.
Thompson then allegedly told investors that they would not be seeing any of the proceeds, as all the money went to pay off the loans and legal fees that had accrued since the mission began. Thompson took the coins without approval from the board, though his attorney Keith Golden maintains there was nothing clandestine about it. Nonetheless, in , two former investors filed lawsuits against Thompson for breach of contract and fiduciary duty: Donald Fanta, president of an investment firm, the Fanta Group, and the Dispatch Printing Company, owned by the family that ran The Columbus Dispatch.
Dispatch scion John W. However, he died and his cousin John F. Convinced that Thompson was ripping him off, the cousin pushed the lawsuit ahead. Thompson was next sued by a group of nine sonar techs from the original mission who claimed they had been duped out of 2 percent of the profits from the gold, plus interest. The two cases were combined with a third into a mega-lawsuit in federal court, creating a labyrinthine legal situation with a rotating cast of attorneys and thousands of motions and maneuvers that bewildered even seasoned courtroom players.
Missions to the Central America were once again put on hold as Thompson put his mind to work filing legal briefs and appeals. Once having bragged of being the subject of more than 3, articles, Thompson had long since stopped talking to the press, and now spent half the year living in a Florida mansion rented under another name. Thompson began to show symptoms of the gilded affliction. In he was arrested in Jacksonville after a sheriff observed him hiding something under the seat following a routine traffic stop. In July , U. Organ had never actually met Thompson and claimed that he was out to sea.
But Judge Sargus shook his head and declared bullshit. The two were presumed to be together and, some of the investors speculated, in possession of millions of dollars in cash and the gold coins. On top of the civil suits against him, Thompson was charged with criminal contempt of court, and U. Marshals were tasked with tracking down him down.
Marshal Brad Fleming told the Associated Press in the midst of the pursuit. Once the most successful treasure hunter in the world, Tommy Thompson was now the one being hunted. I n late summer , a handyman named James Kennedy walked up to the porch of Gracewood, a large home in Vero Beach, Florida. Kennedy took out his cell phone and pretended to call the landlord.
I picked up my cell phone and I said it real loud.
He had been a handyman for decades, but even he was taken aback by what he found inside. Thompson had been renting Gracewood since , a home away from the hassles in Columbus, and the mansion had become their home base when they fled Ohio two months earlier. As renters, Thompson and Antekeier had always been friendly but maintained their distance, Brinkerhoff said. He searched for Thompson on the internet and learned that the tenants were wanted by U. Kennedy himself had once found a mammoth bone and was similarly besieged with people trying to take advantage of his find.
So he called the Marshals. But by that point, Thompson and Antekeier had long since fled Gracewood, and law enforcement was once again unable to determine where they went. Marshal Brad Fleming said in an interview. Based on material found in the Pennwood cabin, the Marshals were alerted to the Hilton Boca Raton Suites, a banal upscale setting where the pair of fugitives had remained hidden since May 30, Marshals prepared to descend on the hotel.
Thompson was a brilliant mind and incredible strategist, but he was not suited for life on the run. One of the last times anyone had seen him, it was a worrisome sight: Thompson was in the backyard of a house he was renting, yelling into his phone in his underwear. Think more along the lines of Dilbert in charge of the operation.
But what had to be one of the most intense disappointments in the saga, for Thompson, was the fact that the excavation of the Central America would carry on without him. Kane in turn contracted a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration to finish the recovery of the Central America. The goal was to bring the rest of the gold to the surface and ensure that the investors got paid.
Thompson has significant holdings in the U. If there are dollars that he is hiding, I want every penny of it. The renewed excavation launched in April , with U. Marshals putting a wanted poster of Thompson aboard the ship in case he attempted to rejoin the mission. The operation was quite successful, bringing up more than 45 gold bars, 15, coins, and hundreds of artifacts over the course of numerous dives, including a pair of glasses, a pistol, and a safe filled with packages.
The sale of the gold was once again undertaken by the California Gold Marketing Group. O n January 27, , Thompson, then 62, was pale and sickly as he sat in his room in the Hilton Suites in Boca Raton, his body racked with the paranoid tics of a man on the run. She took almost comically cinematic precautions when appearing in public, wearing big floppy hats and taking a succession of buses and taxis to lose anyone who might be on her tail.
The hunt was led by an intimidating and extremely direct U. Marshal named Mike Stroh. He had been involved in manhunts all over the country, but the mission to find Thompson had special resonance with him as a professional person-finder. After seven hours of following her, Marshals crashed their way into the hotel and surprised the two, screaming at them not to move.
The Marshals would ultimately cart away 75 boxes of evidence from the room, but they came up empty-handed in one aspect of their quest. Investigators found boxes in the Gracewood mansion that looked a lot like those that had held the restrike coins, but the gold itself was nowhere to be found. Thompson tried to fight the extradition. Marshal Brad Fleming said Thompson was chatty as they made the journey back, perhaps relieved that he no longer had to hide. Both pleaded guilty to criminal contempt. T he capture of Tommy Thompson made for a fairly pedestrian end to a story that had captivated Columbus for years.
Other associates were wistful about the turn of events. But the notion that not even a brilliant mind could resist running off with gold was too salacious not to report, and the allegations of thievery became the dominant narrative. It was an unfortunate bookend to the legacy of someone who had long maintained that the historical and scientific aspects of the recovery were the most important point of the mission.
Indeed, the non-gold accomplishments of the Central America mission are impressive and resounding. Michael Vecchione, a zoologist with the Smithsonian who briefly worked with the expedition, said the jerry-rigged technology of the Nemo is now standard practice for deep-ocean explorations.
The mission took thousands of hours of video, giving scientists an unprecedented look at deep-sea life and revealing new species and their evolutionary adaptations, he said. Deep-sea sponges were retrieved and studied for their antitumor properties. And the way in which they physically nabbed the gold was incredible in its own right: The robotic arms of the submersible gingerly placed a frame around a pile of coins and injected it with silicone, which, when solidified, made for a block full of gold that could be stored until it was ready to be brought to the surface.
Controlling all of this were systems less powerful than those contained in the average smart phone, Bob Evans said. The coins and other gold items recovered from the Odyssey Marine—led excavation debuted in a public exhibit in Los Angeles in February to record-setting attendance, and they were next seen in May at an NRA convention in Dallas.
After administrative costs, court costs and creditor claims, there would theoretically be a distribution to the investors in Recovery Limited Partnership — the first time they would ever see a dime, 33 years after the initial investment for some. The prison, an imposing but generic detention facility surrounded by razor wire, is about three hours from Columbus, and it is the place Thompson has called home for more than four years.
It appears to be his home for the foreseeable future, as Thompson is serving an indefinite sentence in federal prison for civil contempt for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the coins. It has been hard to deduce his motivations, even for those who know him well. His intense concentration and extreme focus found the Central America , and the same focus applied to trying to find an answer to his current predicament is taken as unwillingness to play ball. Only two of the hundreds of investors in the mission have sued Thompson because they knew it was a gamble to begin with, she said.
Moreover, as Bob Evans explained, the actual value of the gold was highly speculative in the first place. The inventory has been published. There is no other gold that has been recovered. Perhaps the math is not simple, but it is not beyond the talents of the most elementary minds, or at least the reasonably educated. But according to Quintin Lindsmith, attorney for the Dispatch Printing Company, recouping the supposedly missing returns is not the point.
Thirty years and two months after the treasure was found, Thompson was driven the long three hours from Milan, Michigan, to Columbus, Ohio, to stand trial and answer questions many people had been waiting a long time to ask. The missing defendant suggested a repeat of previous events. Had he somehow fled? Thompson, in a navy sport coat and light-colored plaid shirt, was momentarily nonplussed, and his eyes, behind his black, thick-framed glasses, registered a small amount of surprise.
Most damning, however, was alleged evidence that he had stashed gold at the bottom of the sea, presumably to be retrieved later on: When the receivership went back down to the Central America in , they found coins and gold bars that had been neatly laid out on trays. Thompson also admitted that he had made off with the gold coins as a form of remuneration he felt he was due.
In her testimony, Alison Antekeier said that between and she moved them from California to a safe-deposit box in in Jacksonville, and then to a storage facility in Fort Lauderdale, where she gave them, in a handful of suitcases, to a man who was supposed to transfer them to an irrevocable trust in Belize. This was the point Thompson was trying to make all along.
As his attorney Keith Golden explained, an irrevocable trust means that once the trust is set up, the person who opened it cannot access it without the permission of the named beneficiaries. Who was supposedly named as beneficiaries on the trust is unclear.
The ruling was later overturned on appeal. Finally, after weeks of testimony, the attorneys made their closing arguments and the jury reached its verdict. Thompson sat in his wheelchair, legs shackled, as the official paperwork was handed from the foreman to the bailiff to the judge. After the decades of science, discovery, stress and flight, it all came down to this. In the matter of the civil case against, it was determined that defendant Thomas G. Thompson sat expressionless while everyone else gasped.
However, the jury declined to award any punitive damages or court fees, indicating that there was no evidence that Thompson acted with malice. Either way, Lindsmith said the victory is once again about the principle. Like the cost of the litigation itself, the financial cost is immaterial to the larger point. The receivership is fielding offers for a multitude of items from the Central America and the recovery missions. Available for sale are bits and pieces of scientific and historical ephemera , including silicone molds with gold coin impressions, and even the Nemo , the remote underwater vehicle that was the first human contact with the Central America since They have tickets from the passengers.
Golden adds that the relentless litigation torpedoed an opportunity that would have made the Central America recovery look like chump change. Thompson was working with the Colombian government in the mids to recover an old galleon whose estimated value is legitimately a few billion dollars. The next steps for Thompson in the case brought by Dispatch Printing include an appeal of the judgment, with the hopes that the award will be diminished or overturned.
Separately, Thompson has filed an appeal in federal court to be let out of prison. Thompson is currently awaiting the ruling of a three-judge panel about whether or not his is valid. What little time he has to use the phone is spent speaking with lawyers, business partners, and his family; ditto for the days he can have visitors. And after decades of developing new technology, going after hidden gold, and having to fight in court, Thompson is used to secrecy and has no reason to talk about the case to anyone.
Alison Antekeier still lives in Columbus, keeps a low profile, and is still reportedly very sympathetic to Thompson. Numerous attempts to contact her went unanswered. In Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea , Gary Kinder includes chilling survivor accounts of the Central America disaster, including men and women screaming maniacally as they dumped out purses and emptied hidden pockets of gold as the ship sank. The vacated wealth was something they otherwise would have killed to protect. It was mania wrought by the plague of gold, a crippling infirmity that afflicts humans alone.
These Syrian children survived attacks that left them burned beyond belief. One program thousands of miles from home is offering them life-changing treatment. W inter was on its way in northwestern Syria when Hana Al Saloom awoke around 6 a. There was a chill in the air. Her 5-year-old daughter, Aysha, was asleep near a gas heater, as her brothers and sisters slept in other rooms. Hana blinked. The blast knocked her down. Then screams.
She swiveled on her knees. She looked around. Everything was on fire. It was as if her house had exploded.
The impact must have caused the gas heater to blow up too. The flames spread fast. Hana raced outside with her older children. He had reached into the flames to pull her out. His legs and hands were seared. But Aysha was injured the worst. Neighbors rushed to put out the fire on her body — and all around them.
Her skin was smoldering. A neighbor rushed Aysha and her dad to a hospital. Her wavy hair dances around her bright eyes. There she is in a white blouse. There she is in a purple plaid dress. There she is with pigtails, sitting on a swing, wearing a white, blue and red polka-dotted tutu. Her mouth hung open, her eyes slightly cracked, her neck as reddish-pink as a bloody raw steak. Her face looked as if someone had slathered it with a mud mask. Pasty in some places, blackened in others.