Most information about my family, Hoffa, and the Kennedys is publicly available, and anyone with access to the internet can sort through immense amounts of data and make assumptions and guess what happened. I did, and though I still don’t know for sure what happened, this is my biased summary.
Kennedy’s assassination shocked the world and became a defining event for a generation, and people from that generation report knowing where they were when they heard the news. Newspapers said that when Hoffa heard that Kennedy died, he told reporters who happened to be interviewing him at the time, “Bobby Kennedy is just another lawyer now.” He was referencing what was commonly known then, that President Kennedy had appointed his little brother, Harvard lawyer Bobby Kennedy, as the US Attorney General, the most senior prosecuting attorney in America, and had tasked him and an entire team of FBI agents to focus on taking down Hoffa and the Teamsters. With President John F. Kennedy dead, Hoffa and most pundits assumed Bobby would be replaced by the already appointed President Johnson, Kennedy’s former vice president. The reporters left, and Hoffa told his trusted Teamster leaders, big, rough men like Chuckle O’Brien and Frank Fitzsimmons, “One brother down, one more to go.” He hated both John and Bobby Kennedy, but everyone already knew that.
Hoffa was said to be the most famous man in America not a Kennedy, and his public, visceral hatred of the Kennedys and their reciprocated hatred of him was so overt and so fierce that reporters dubbed it “The Blood Feud.” At times, the Blood Feud sounded like schoolboy taunts, Bobby would call Hoffa a “snot nosed piece of shit” and Hoffa would call Bobby a “spoiled brat.” He hated all the Kennedys, John, Bobby, Teddy, and their extended family, but he was especially vocal against Bobby, “the runt of the litter,” his most pesky annoyance from a family of Harvard educated modern aristocrats who were setting up all of their children to become presidents. They were just as overt in their intentions as Hoffa was in his, and for many years, Hoffa and Bobby’s taunts were followed daily and nationally. Their feud was said to be the most common discussion topic among every day people, not unlike any politically charged and dramatic topic today, except that it lasted almost two decades.
Except for the Kennedys, everyone in America seemed to love or at least respect Hoffa. He was a self made, working class man. Almost every working person in America was somehow associated with the Teamsters; three million official members by 1957 at a time when there were only 170 million people in America; approximately 60 million workers. And every product on every shelf in every store across the country, every piece of construction material and all office supplies and almost anything anyone touched had been transported there by a Teamster along America’s new interstate system that had been built with the help of a lot of Teamsters.
Anyone who worked with wheeled vehicles relied on the Teamsters, from dump truck drivers to golf cart caddies, and Hoffa could slam the economy to a halt by calling a strike. And he supported other unions. He and my grandfather were both showcased walking picket lines with striking teachers, manufacturers, and laborers that weren’t truck drivers; they implied that the Teamsters would strike, too, to support all of working class America. The Kennedy’s were college educated privledged people, “spoiled brats,” and Hoffa was a self made David tackling Goliath.
The Kennedy’s knew that Hoffa was receiving millions of dollars each month in unregulated union dues – three million members times a few dollars a month was a lot of money back then. Hoffa used the dues and the Teamsters pension fund, money to pay full time union employees and cover members’s lost wages during strikes, and openly funded mafia activities, like the construction of new Las Vegas casinos; and, interestingly, Hollywood films. In return, Teamsters were given contracts to transport all construction materials and other goods for Las Vegas – whatever those goods were – and promised not to strike.
For films, Teamsters shipped almost all Hollywood film sets across the country and housed famous actors in Teamster trailers during filming; if you watch credits scroll at the end of movies from those decades, the Teamster logo is the final credit and takes up the entire screen. It’s a huge ship’s steering wheel and a horse head; coincidentally a severed horse head was used by actors portraying mafia hit men in The Godfather to strong arm fictionalized Hollywood producers. Hoffa was as subtle as a severed horse head placed in your bed, and he went unchallenged in his role connecting mafia and working class Americans in a unsurprising, mutually beneficial arrangement that gave us Las Vegas and entertaining films without government oversight. Sure, Kennedy put a man on the moon, but millions of people get to visit Las Vegas each year, and that felt more real and tangible for most people than a big metaphorical step for mankind.
Everyone knew Hoffa hated the Kennedy brothers; he had even publicly said he was glad the president was dead. But, the government wouldn’t overtly suspect Hoffa of President Kennedy’s death for another 15 years, in the 1979 JFK Assassination report that would, confusingly, remain classified and hidden from the public for another 15 years. Instead, everyone in 1963 focused on the president’s killers they knew or suspected and searched for a bigger plot or conspiracy behind the murder of the century.
Two national dramas unfolded in parallel: The Blood Feud against Hoffa, and the pursuit of Kennedy’s assassin or assassins. Of course, the later focused on Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby at first.
Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed a police officer, J.D. Tippit, forty five minutes after Kennedy was shot, though he wasn’t a suspect in Kennedy’s death yet. Oswald was discovered in a downtown movie theater where he had ducked inside to hide after killing Tippet. Kennedy was reported dead in Parkland Memorial Hospital within two hours of being shot, and Oswald was charged with his murder in addition to Tippit’s, who was apparently just a bystander doing his job and unaware that Oswald was armed with a revolver and mentally unstable. Oswald was arrested and read his Miranda Rights, and he said that he was being set up, that was just a “patsy,” a part in a bigger conspiracy, a sacrificial pawn in a game of chess orchestrated by others.
Two days later, police were escorting Oswald through the police station on live television, handcuffed and surrounded by police and reporters, and 110 million people saw Jack Ruby walk past the police and reporters and remove a Colt Cobra .38 special snub nosed revolver from his trench coat pocket and shoot Oswald point-blank in the stomach. The world continued to watch, live and real time, as police pounced on Ruby and rushed Oswald to Parkland Memorial Hospital. He died down the hall from President Kennedy’s body less than 48 hours after the president was reported dead, without saying more anything more about his involvement.
The world soon learned that Oswald was a former U.S. marine, a trained marksman, and had been monitored by the FBI and CIA ever since he had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and returned with a Russian bride and their baby boy. Inexplicably, the FBI had even paid for the Oswald’s airplane ticket back home, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had allowed him to continue traveling abroad, including a now famous trip to Mexico City the summer of 1963 in an unsuccessful attempt to bypass the new embargo and fly to Cuba from Mexico; his intention, he would often say, was to meet Castro and discuss pro-Cuba, anti-America and anti-Kennedy organizations. After failing to reach Cuba, he returned to New Orleans, his home town, and moved to Dallas a few months before he allegedly shot and killed President Kennedy; I say “allegedly” despite what is accepted today only because The United States does not try deceased people who can not speak for themselves in court, and I believe that point is often overlooked.
In the chaos surrounding Kennedy and Oswald’s deaths, police found Oswald’s rifle, a surplus Italian army carbine, in the sixth floor of a downtown book depository overlooking the president’s parade route from 60 feet up and 265 feet away. Forensic analysis would eventually show that the 6.5mm bullet that killed Kennedy had been fired from Oswald’s rifle, and someone found a matching bullet in Parkland Hospital beside the Texas governor, who had been riding with Kennedy and was also shot but survived. Those bullets matched another one that had been discovered in the home of a well known army general, Major General Edwin Walker, who had survived an assassination attempt six months before Kennedy died. Oswald’s wife would later testify that her husband had confessed that murder attempt but had promised her he’d stop shooting people; apparently, he had been contemplating killing people for a long time.
The gun that shot at Walker and hit Kennedy was proven to be Oswald’s. Unique marks and scratches matched photos he had taken with it in his Dallas apartment’s back yard in April of 1963, posing militantly before he tried to shoot General Walker. In the photo, he’s holding two fringe newspapers, “The Worker” and “The Militant.” His revolver is strapped to his hip like a cowboy, police officer, or vigilante. He had shown the photo around town to impress people – I don’t know if it did, and the jury’s still out – and mailed copies to mainstream newspapers saying “be prepared for anything,” but editors didn’t print it. Police discovered the photo when they searched his apartment; after being arrested, Oswald claimed it was his face on an altered photo. Police also found a receipt from a Dallas gunsmith showed that Oswald had paid him $7 to install a high powered scope on the notoriously inaccurate Italian carbine, a shortened rifle intended for close up combat, not distance shooting. He didn’t deny that. He had used multiple aliases throughout, such as as “Harvey Lee” and “A. Hidell,” but most physical descriptions and signature forensics and FBI and CIA surveillance photos strongly suggested that Lee Harvey Oswald was the most likely assassin, and over the decades the evidence has withstood scrutiny from trained experts and enthusiastic hobbyists with increasingly sophisticated technology, and the most advanced tools of 2020 continue to validate the 1963 evidence against Oswald.
But, there are still questions. No one has explained how Oswald was offered a job at the book depository a few weeks before Kennedy’s death, or why his carbine didn’t have any fingerprints, or why three 6.5mm bullets like the ones discovered at Parkland Memorial Hospital were left on the windowsill; and an unrelenting list of inconsistencies and omitted testimonies and opinions from limited perspectives of what is or isn’t possible. To this day, reputable surveys still show that most people feel there are too many unanswered questions to assume Oswald’s solitary guilt.
America couldn’t try Oswald in 1963, so even with considerable evidence prosecutors relied on an investigation led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the senior judge of the US Supreme Court. Warren had 30 years of experience and had earned bipartisan respect politically. He was already a household name because of his judgement on controversial cases in the 1950’s and 1960’s, like Roe vs. Wade, Brown vs. The Board of Education, and a lesser known case that led to The Miranda Rights, the right to remain silent, that anything you say under arrest could and would be used against you in a court of law, if you survived. Ten months after Ruby killed Oswald, the 888 page Warren Report concluded that “Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy.” But even today, every reasonable survey shows that the majority of Americans still believe that President Kennedy was killed as part of a larger plot. And, at the time, Dallas had been called “The City of Hate” by many reporters because so many conservative people were so vocal about their hatred of the Kennedy, a young Irish Catholic president with haute ideals, so almost anyone could be a suspect. Theorists suggested Kennedy’s murder could have been coordinated by local militants, the mafia, Cuba or Russia, Vice President Johnson, military generals and civilian contractors profiting from the Vietnam conflict, and an endless list of conspiracy theories and combinations thereof. Not everything is coordinated, and coincidences happen. Investigators began by focusing on whether or not Oswald could have shot Kennedy from his perch six floors up and 265 feet away, assuming that one of the people Oswald had tried to impress with his rifle hadn’t planted it there.
Trained marksmen tried to recreate Oswald’s alleged shot with using the infamously inaccurate Italian army carbine, but even with a scope they failed and said it was impossible that Oswald, who was a terrible shot according to his military history, had hit the president from the book depository. Some say the carbine was planted and there may have been other shooters, perhaps on a grassy knoll that was closer to the president’s convertible, a now infamous spot where some witnesses claimed to have seen other suspects; those witnesses wouldn’t be called to testify in the Warren Report. But, other marksmen with similar credentials succeeded, and some say Oswald could have done it, too. He may have even gotten lucky, a poor shot who aims incorrectly and, ironically, hits his target in a comedy of errors. We’ll never know what Oswald could or couldn’t have done, because Ruby killed him before he could be interrogated or hooked to one of the famous FBI lie detector machines that were new and popular at the time.
Most people suspected, and even still suspect, that Ruby killed Oswald to silence him on behalf of some other person or organization. Ruby was a Dallas night club owner, air force veteran, low-level mafia strong man, and former business agent for a Dallas dump truck union that joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
No rational person doubted that Ruby killed Oswald. 110 million witness saw him shoot Oswald on live television and Ruby confessed. He said he loved the Kennedys and was distraught and emotionally unstable and shot Oswald to protect Kennedy’s widow from having to experience a drawn out trial. He said he acted impulsively, distraught and driven by sadness. His defense attorney claimed temporary insanity, a new concept at the time, or a relatively minor charge of unmeditated, impulsive, 3rd degree murder. But, Ruby had said things that implied otherwise, even after being read his Miranda Rights, such as he had planned to shoot Oswald three times, but had been stopped by Dallas police; American justice says everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Twelve jury members listened to the evidence and Ruby’s cross examination and the evidence that he had “planned to shoot three times,” and they unanimously convicted Ruby of first degree, premeditated murder, and the judge sentenced him to life in prison.
While Ruby was incarcerated, the FBI and Earl Warren and even private investigators had full access, and they grilled him on any possible connection to a bigger plot against Kennedy. He continuously denied it, and even passed one of the FBI’s lie detector tests. In 1964, the 888 page Warren Report detailed all the interviews they had conducted and presented all the evidence they had analyzed, and Warren said the committee he had led and his eponymous report that Ruby was uninvolved in a bigger plot; famously, Warren concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone, and that neither Ruby nor anyone else had killed Oswald as part of a bigger plot to kill Kennedy. But, over the next two years, Ruby changed his stories multiple times and later claimed, among many things, that he was part of something bigger and that the government was trying to kill him by injecting him with cancer cells. He died of a pulmonary embolism secondary to lung cancer in Parkland Memorial Hospital on January 3rd, 1967. He was 56 years old. He had been a lifelong smoker. Of the many things I read he said before dying, what I recall most often is, “No one will ever know my part in history.”
Parallel to the Warren investigation, Bobby Kennedy continued to pursue Jimmy Hoffa with even more intensity than their previous Blood Feud, presumably because he had been shown the FBI reports of Hoffa and my grandfather. Edward Partin had been one of Hoffa’s inner circle, sort of. He was a respected Teamster leader, physically large and imposing but with a twinkle in his eye and a subtle smile and southern accent that made him seem kinder and more mellow and nicer than he was. In 1962, ostensibly after the FBI report that foreshadowed Kennedy’s assassination, Partin was in a Baton Rouge jail cell on three separate indictments – manslaughter, kidnapping, and embezzlement – and he called Bobby Kennedy from his jail cell within 48 hours after being arrested and was released inexplicably. Behind the scenes, Bobby Kennedy and Walter Sheridan, the head of the FBI task force against Hoffa, asked him to infiltrate the Hoffa’s inner circle and find “anything” against the Teamster president. The US Attorney General cleansed Partin’s current criminal charges and whitewashed his previous ones and plastered him across national media as a hero, willing to risk his life for the good of America. Somehow, they even glossed over Partin’s dishonorable discharge from the marines and rape of a girl in Woodville, Mississippi.
National headlines in Look! and Life magazines read, “Inside Hoffa’s savage kingdom: an insider tells his story,” and their feature stories showed photos of Big Daddy – that’s what my family and a lot of Baton Roug called Ed Partin – in all of his charm, posing shirtless in his boxing gloves and exaggerating his military service and portraying himself as a family man. Media showed him playing with his kids, my dad and aunts and uncle, and in televised news, Big Daddy spoke with a charming southern drawl and smiled and was polite yet direct and concise and seemed like an all American hero and family man.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally oversaw Big Daddy’s lie detector tests and published the results in national media with photos of him hooked to machines and surrounded by federal scientists in white lab coats. Hoover told America that Edward Grady Partin was trustworthy. He also released the first part of the FBI’s surveillance of Partin and Hoffa, the part about using plastic explosives to kill Bobby Kennedy, and the story of Big Daddy was headlined in Look! and Life magazines.
In media coverage, Big Daddy said he was probably asked to obtain explosives because Hoffa knew he did business with Carlos Marcello, the New Orleans crime boss, and that oversaw Teamsters shipping in and out of the port of New Orleans, including trade with Fidel Castro and Cuba; the feud between Castro, President Kennedy, and the mafia was already international news, albeit less followed than the Blood Feud, and it seemed likely that Big Daddy could obtain anything Hoffa needed from New Orleans. Those are the stories I recall personally, to this day, and though I’m not an expert on lie detector machines, I believe that Big Daddy did, indeed work with Marcello and Castro and he kept plastic explosives, guns, and cash stashed all over Baton Rouge for reasons he never shared. But, that’s speculation, unverifiable yet probable, especially because so much else about my family has been verified by court records, the FBI, and Look! and Life.
In 1964, exactly 100 days days after President Kennedy was killed, Hoffa was on trial in Chatanooga, Tennesee for a seemingly minor incident: jury tampering. But, if convicted, he faced 11 years in prison. Despite the minor charge – but still a felony, possibly amplified because of fledgling labor union laws – Bobby Kennedy and his FBI task force were in Tennessee, led by FBI leader Walter Sheridan, a respected agent with thirty years of service investigating high profile criminals. The task force monitored everything the Teamsters said or did, and used my grandfather as a “walking recorder” who secretly reported what he saw and heard daily. Hoffa was on trial for a seemingly small event in 1962, jury tampering, but he knew Bobby and the FBI and prosecutors were in Chatanooga, plotting a legal attack, and Hoffa was exceptionally cautious. At one point he asked Partin to guard the door against FBI moles, mafia hitmen, prosecutor’s spies, and anyone else threatening him.
Despite the surveillance, Hoffa was sure he’d be found innocent until prosecutors called their surprise witness and Big Daddy stood up. Hoffa muttered, “My god, it’s Partin,” and Hoffa’s mood changed and Partin spoke charmingly in his southern drawl, and the jury had probably already seen him in national news and knew that even J. Edgar Hoover vouched for him, and they found Hoffa guilty of asking Big Daddy to give $25,000 to a juror two years previously, around the time of the FBI report foreshadowing President Kennedy’s death. No one had recorded Partin’s statement from then, and no money had exchanged hands, and the juror was unaware that he had been targeted. But Edward Partin swore under oath that he was telling the truth, and the jury believed him more than the most famous man in America not a Kennedy, and the judge sentenced Hoffa to eleven years in federal prison for jury tampering.
Coincidentally, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by an assassin in 1968, after the Hoffa verdict he had spent more than a decade pursuing, but before Hoffa would go to prison. I never saw a connection, and I only mention it here to emphasize that the late 1960’s were a time of many assassinations and conspiracy theories: the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and a long list of people had been monitored by Hoover’s FBI and shot and killed in the 1960’s, especially around the equally famous Summer of Love in California and Woodstock. Assassinations seemed to be part of the American culture back then – even the government sanctioned CIA was overtly trying to kill Castro – and perhaps murder was less remarkable then than it is now. Perhaps we’re a more peaceful society now. But, in 1968, Hoffa didn’t slow down when someone killed Bobby, as if Bobby’s ghost were still pursuing him, and he continued to fight Ed Partin’s testimony with the full force of his rage and intensity and resources.
Over a few years, Hoffa’s extensive legal team was able to bring his conviction through several appeals and all the way to the US Supreme Court – only 60 to 80 cases do out of thousands that try each year – and Hoffa vs. The United States was overseen, coincidentally, by Chief Justice Warren.
Warren was the only dissenting of nine Supreme Court judges, and he questioned the other eight for allowing my grandfather’s testimony to stand. Warren seemed genuinely perplexed at how no one saw what he saw. He said the case was an afront on American justice, and though he didn’t discuss it in his memoir about famous cases, he documented his disgruntlement in Hoffa vs The United States, a permanent and public record, so that all of posterity would know his thoughts. Like most Supreme Court cases, judges document their thought processes, because they know that their decisions have long term ramifications. Their decisions affect our children and our children’s children. He detailed his disdain for Big Daddy and the legal process of using him to send Hoffa to prison in a three page missive permanently attached to the Supreme Court ruling. He wrote things like, “Edward Partin was a jailbird, languishing in a Baton Rouge jail,” with “every incentive to lie,”
“A motive for his doing this is immediately apparent,” he wrote. “- namely, his strong desire to work his way out of jail and out of his various legal entanglements with the State and Federal Governments. And it is interesting to note that, if this was his motive, [Partin] has been uniquely successful in satisfying it. In the four years since he first volunteered to be an informer against Hoffa, he has not been prosecuted on any of the serious federal charges for which he was at that time jailed, and the state cahrges have appartently vanished into thin air.”
Warren commented on the fact that my grandmother, Norma Jean Partin, was being paid a monthly salary by the federal government; he pointed out that we were a noteworthy case in history, America’s first “paid informants,” paid a monthly allowance and assigned federal marshals as protection against inevitable retaliation and potentially a conflict of interest. To this day, my family history in Hoffa vs. The United States is used as a legal precedent for paying witnesses and their families in high profile cases involving the mafia or spies or other dangerous situations. But the biggest conflict of interest was Big Daddy Himself. Warren went into exacting detail in several pages of a missive focused on Ed Partin’s many crimes – rape, manslaughter, embezzlement, assault and battery, etc. – and emphasized the irony that Big Daddy’s latest crime was lying to a jury. But, Big Daddy’s testimony was upheld because Warren was outvoted by eight other supreme court justices for reasons I don’t understand – presidents appoint justices for life, and it would difficult to influence eight of nine supreme judges – and Hoffa was imprisoned for jury tampering despite Chief Justice Warren’s thorough and rational argument against trusting anything my grandfather said.
The Hoffa missive and Warren Report do not indicate that Chief Justice Earl Warren had read Hoover’s report on Hoffa and Partin, and I think that’s as remarkable as the report itself.
Big Daddy returned to Baton Rouge and members of Teamsters Local #5 unanimously elected him back into power. After attempts were made on his life, Walter Sheridan assigned more federal marshals to follow and protect my family, and our history reads like one of the mafia movies popular at the time. We always knew that, and so did a lot of other people and prosecutors who were perplexed by how Big Daddy got away with so many crimes. One of the most poignant examples is from a 1960’s New Orleans Picaune newspaper, the most widely circulated Louisiana newspaper at the time, and highly respected; it would win many mainstream awards. It quotes the Louisiana Governor McKiethen soon after Big Daddy returned to Baton Rouge:
“I won’t let Partin and his gangster Teamsters run this state!”
McKiethen went on to describe in detail what he’d do to stop Big Daddy. The reporter quoted him and went on to describe how Big Daddy and Uncle Doug and had led a team of 30 armed Teamsters in a small fleet of trucks into labor negotiations with a cement manufacturing plant in Plaquimine, a small river port across the Mississippi from Baton Rouge. The reporter was thorough and reported on the ensuing shootout, saying that so many companies had been strongarmed by Partin that the cement company decided to hire a team of mercenaries, a posse of sorts, to stand and fight. They talk about how people were shot or died from shotgun blasts and rifle fire that day, and asked why police did nothing. Even after all of that, and more from other reporters, no Louisiana governor found a way to stop Big Daddy and his gangsters. The Teamsters were, and are, a powerful political influence in America.
Hoffa was released from prison a few years early and famously disappeared from the parking lot of the Red Fox restaurant in Detroit a few months later, in the summer of 1975. Before he died, he must have thought about my grandfather’s testimony often, and he summarized how everyone was fooled in the autobiography he authorized as soon as he was released from prison. In chapter ten of “Hoffa by Hoffa,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” he simply says that “Edward Partin was a big, rough man who could charm a snake off a rock,” and then gives his version of what happened, and he continues the Blood Feud. To emphasize how much he hated Bobby, the chapter dedicated to him seven years after his murder is entitled, “The Spoiled Brat,” and even the chapter about Ed Partin evolves into a rant against Bobby and how the FBI “railroaded” Hoffa in Chatanooga; hence his pun in chapter ten, “The Chatanooga Choo Choo.”
As I mentioned, from what I’ve seen and read, Hoffa wasn’t subtle. He hated the Kennedys. Interestingly, even though the JFK Assassination Report says Hoffa was one of three suspects, the congressional committee admits that Hoffa was too intelligent to simultaneously be so vocal against Kennedy and act on his rage when pursued by an FBI task force for so many years. His transparency and consistency was acknowledged and respected, even by those prosecuting him.
Hoffa vanished a few weeks after penning his autobiography, and coincidentally the US Congressional Committee on Assassinations was formed shortly after, in 1976, and though Hoffa’s body was never found he was pronounced dead shortly before the 1979 JFK Assassination report was released to for President Carter’s review and contradicted the Warren Report and said that Hoffa was one of three prime suspects behind President Kennedy’s. Their conclusion was based strongly on the 1962 FBI report on Hoffa and Partin’s plot.
Edward Grady Partin was a big man, one of the physically large and morally unhindered men who surrounded the fierce yet diminutive Hoffa; and, practically speaking, a small version of Jimmy Hoffa when it came to leading the Teamsters. He operated regionally instead of nationally, and governors pursued him like presidents had pursued Hoffa, and state Attorney Generals instead of Bobby Kennedy.
The similarities between Partin and Hoffa were obvious to anyone watching, and for many years conspiracy theorists followed my grandfather’s actions more than the FBI seemed to, and they published articles in fringe newspapers that were not unlike todays opinionated and unproven internet blogs, vlogs, and podcasts: full of speculation, and fueled people who like to read, see, and hear what they already believe or suspect. They pointed to his relationships with Ruby, Marcello, and Castro. Many reported having seen a photo of him and Ruby from just before Oswald was killed; a hand held, old school, single copy with a negative somewhere, and probably black and white. Some reputable researchers, Louisiana lawyers and college professors, linked him to Oswald, claiming he had driven Oswald from Baton Rouge or New Orleans to Dallas despite evidence otherwise – Oswald had taken a bus ticket and their was a receipt and witnesses – and some speculated that Big Daddy continued to kill Hoffa’s associates, like the actor Audie Murphy in 1971. But nothing stuck, and over time names like Ed Partin, Audie Murphy, and Walter Sheridan became footnotes in history; hence my puns about being a small part in his story.
I was born Jason Ian Partin on October 5th, 1972, the son of Edward Grady Partin Junior. My grandfather, Edward Grady Partin, ran Teamsters Local #5 for thirty years; his brother and son, Uncle Doug and Uncle Kieth, both Partins, each ran Local #5 for thirty years, too. The Partins have run the southeast Teamsters for 90 years. Kieth is still there, almost ready to retire. Similarly, James Hoffa Junior is still the national Teamsters president, and his family has run the national union for just as long as my family ran unions in the south. Edward Partin Junior was never a Teamster, but he went to prison on federal drug trafficking charges.
I’ve never been a Teamster, and I look at my Partin history more as an observer than a participant. I may make a few historical errors here and there; I’m not a historian or a published writer with an editor. But, everything I’ve written about Hoffa and the Kennedys and my family is publicly available, including my own court history, and I’ll preemptively share a bit about me so that you may see some of the biases I have.
Online court records from the Baton Rouge 19th judicial court in East Baton Rouge Parish say that I was removed from my family as an infant, and a Louisiana judge assigned my physical protection to a guardian, Ed White, because of my family’s “intemperance,” an inability to act with moderation or restraint. I can’t deny that. I remained in and out of the foster system, seeing my Partin family on some weekends and holidays until Hoffa famously disappeared, and Big Daddy lost his federal protection and went to prison in 1980. He was released early for declining health and returned to Baton Rouge in 1986 and died on March 11th, 1990. By that time, I was 17 but emancipated, declared a legal adult at age 16; but, ironically, closer to my grandfather and Partin family than ever before because he had changed after prison and needed to be cared for by my family, especially my aunts and uncles. Walter Sheridan had been calling Aunt Janice daily in the weeks leading to Big Daddy’s death, asking what he had been saying, and plain clothed FBI agents attended his funeral on March 16th, along with the mayor and reporters from major newspapers and a few celebrities, and they questioned everyone coming and going, including the reporters. They didn’t seem interested in what Aunt Janice told them, that she’d never forget his final words as long as she lived, “No one will ever know my part in history.”
The New York Times reporters summarized what they knew by 1990, and not even investigative reporters seemed to have read the 11 year old JFK Assassination Report, and their impression of Edward Partin was still that of an antihero who had helped Bobby Kennedy when asked. They repeated what had been told in apparent news media and movies for 30 years. His obituary was national news, perhaps for the older generation who still remembered the handsome, shirtless, charming man from Look! and Life. The final word on Edward Grady Partin was, among other things, that he helped Bobby convict Hoffa.
Mr. Partin, a native of Woodville, Miss., was business manager for 30 years of Local 5 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters here.
Mr. Hoffa went to prison after the jury-tampering conviction. James Neal, a prosecutor in the jury-tampering trial in Chattanooga, Tenn., said that when Mr. Partin walked into the courtroom Mr. Hoffa said, ”My God, it’s Partin.”
The Federal Government later spent 11 years prosecuting Mr. Partin on antitrust and extortion charges in connection with labor troubles in the Baton Rouge area in the late 1960’s. He was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice by hiding witnesses and arranging for perjured testimony in March 1979. An earlier trial in Butte, Mont., ended without a verdict.
Mr. Partin went to prison in 1980, and was released to a halfway house in 1986. While in prison he pleaded no contest to charges of conspiracy, racketeering and embezzling $450,000 in union money. At one time union members voted to continue paying Mr. Partin’s salary while he was in prison. He was removed from office in 1981.
He helped Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy convict Mr. Hoffa of jury tampering in 1964. Mr. Partin, a close associate of Mr. Hoffa’s, testified that the teamster president had offered him $20,000 to fix the jury at Mr. Hoffa’s trial in 1962 on charges of taking kickbacks from a trucking company. That trial ended in a hung jury.
In 1992, almost three decades after President John F Kennedy was shot and killed, a popular film by Oliver Stone, a Vietnam veteran and famous producer of epic films about presidents and wars and American pop culture – like Born on the Fourth of July, The Doors, Natural born Killers, etc – screened his film JFK for congress and their families. The film launched nationally and was immensely popular and presented facts in a way that made people question if JFK’s murder was orchestrated by Americans interested escalating the Vietnam conflict and profiting from it; a common consequence of wars is that military contractors become wealthier. The film JFK sparked voters to demand access to the JFK Assassination report; despite the 1976 Freedom of Information Act, every president could withhold what they read from the public, but presidential candidate Bill Clinton promised to release it, and in 1992 he released approximately 60%, including the part about Edward Partin. The JFK Assassination Report contradicted the Warren Report and said that President Kennedy’s assassination was likely part of a larger, coordinated plot, and that the three primary suspects for orchestrating it, men with the means and motivation to carry out such a plan, were Hoffa, Marcello, and a third mafia leader whose name I can never recall. The authors of the report emphasized the similarities between Kennedy’s murder and Hoffa and Partin’s plot, but couldn’t find evidence, and said that it was unlikely that an intelligent person under so media and FBI scrutiny, especially someone who had publicly displayed hatred and motivation and knew that anything he said could incriminate himself. Conspiracy theorists ran with the 60%, though no one felt it resolved anything, and the sagas of JFK and Jimmy Hoffa plodded along, gaining bits and pieces of new information with each new president and whatever they choose to release. Fact and fiction mixed and muddled and became something unlike anything I’ve seen since.
In 2018, the very large actor Craig Vincent worked with my family to research his role as Ed Partin in Martin Scorese’s film about about Hoffa, “The Irishman,” based on a memoir by a former mafia hitman nicknamed The Irishman who claimed, probably truthfully, to have killed Hoffa in 1975. As far as I can tell, no one making the film had read the JFK Assassination report and linked those events, if they were indeed linked. No one knows. When we spoke, Craig said he had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and we spoke more of the present than the past.
In 2020 the Covid19 global pandemic slammed the world to a halt, and Big Daddy’s little brother, former Teamster leader Doug Partin, died peacefully in a Mississippi veterans home at age 90. His autobiography is available on Amazon, and is entitled, “From My Brother’s Shadow.” Uncle Kieth is currently president of Local #5; he’s fine with anything I write. I spent most of 2020 researching this book and resisting the urge to make a lot of puns about 20/20 hindsight; I succeeded, for the most part, now that I look back on it.
Almost everything I wrote has been on Archives.gov and SupremeCourt.gov since the internet became a thing some time in the 1990’s. The final part of the JFK Assassination report will be public, because the Biden administration plans to release the final 0.6% by 2024. I don’t know what Presidents Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush Jr., Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, and Carter saw in the 1979 Congressional Committee on Assassination’s report on President Kennedy’s assassination that they choose to keep secret from the public, or why President Biden is waiting until the end of his first term to release the final tiny bit of it. I don’t even know all of the report is real; anyone can add a piece of paper to a stack of documents and type any date on it they choose. It’s not difficult, especially with a huge pile of paper memos that no one seems to read or verify. Anyone who’s modified a printed high school report card knows it’s easy to fake – I did it often growing up – and the report from J. Edgar Hooover about Hoffa and Big Daddy is so precise and so relevant and yet so well hidden that it sounds like fake news to me. It’s too perfect. But I believed it when I was a kid, before anyone else knew, and I made choices accordingly.
I’m Jason Ian Partin, the grandson of Edward Grady Partin Senior. This memoir is my small part in his story, and this sentence is the last time I’ll intentionally use that Partin pun.
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