A Partin History

“Partin was a big tough-looking man with an extensive criminal record as a youth. Hoffa misjudged the man and thought that because he was big and tough and had a criminal record and was out on bail and was from Louisiana, the home states of Carlos Marcello, the man must have been a guy who paints houses.”

Charles Brant and Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran in Frank’s 2014 memoir,“I Heard You Paint Houses,” a reference to mafia lingo for a hitman who paints the walls of a house red with splattered blood.

To understand Wendy and me and our relationship with the Partin family, a bit of history may help.

Anyone could put together most of my life history if they had internet access and knew my full name and my parents names: my mom was Wendy Anne Rothdram Partin, my dad is Edward Grady Partin Junior, and I’m Jason Ian Partin. My grandfather’s Wikipedia page changes becaue it’s Wikipedia, but usually mentions his ties to Hoffa and a few of his major crimes that sent him to prison in 1980, like the time he stole $450,000 and the witnesses were beaten bloody; mostly, though, it echos whatever Hoffa book or film is being made at the time and ends with his nationally publicized funeral in 1990. My dad, interestingly, went to of prison just as Big Daddy was released in 1986, but got out a year later and became a public defense attorney in Slaughter, next door to Saint Francisville, and he’s on several web sites advertising lawyers in Louisiana. Wendy died from liver failure secondary to alcohol abuse soon after I arrived home from Cuba; I wrote her obituary and it’s online, bookended by advertisements that keep the archives running.

Wendy Partin Obituary

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Wendy Rothdram Partin, a resident of St. Francisville, LA, passed way on Friday, April 5th, 2019 at the age of 63. Wendy attended Glenoaks High School in Baton Rouge, LA, and retired from Exxon Mobil. She is survived by her son, Jason Ian Partin, of San Diego, CA. She was preceded in death by her mother, Joyce Rothdram, and her aunt and uncle, Lois and Robert Desico, all of Baton Rouge, LA. During her retirement, she became a master gardener and enjoyed helping people with their lawns. She enjoyed cooking, and took food to anyone she knew who was ill or grieving. Wendy loved animals, and worked with local shelters to foster dogs until they found permanent homes. She passed away unexpectedly from liver failure. In lieu of gifts or a service, please spend time sharing what you love with your neighbor, listen to what they love, and help each other.

Published by The Advocate from Apr. 8 to Apr. 9, 2019.

To plant trees in memory, please visit ________

I have a handful of medical device patents in the USPTO database as either Jason Partin and Jason Ian Partin, things like hyrogel spinal implants to replace the nucleus pulposus, bone healing screws that adapt in situ to continuously apply compression to accelerate healing and reduce reoperation rates, and, a personal favorite, a pyrolytic carbon wrist resurfacing implant with a fin to stabalize it in the radial bone that looks exactly like inspired it: a stubby surfboard commonly seen in San Diego’s mushy summer waters called a fish. I’m not on social media, except for Linkedin, which, when I joined, was primarily a professional network. In 2019, I was shown on Linkedin as managing an innovation lab and leading engineering classes at the newly dubbed University of San Diego Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, named after the inventor of pyroltic carbon heart valves whoes widow had just donated $21 Million for a hands on lab, and as an independent consultant for the medical device industry focused on design, safety testing, and quality assurance. I had semi retired after selling a couple of small medical device companies, and my Linkedin listed side gigs atypical of most engineers, like being a rock climbing guide with Front Range Climbing, a magican who occassionally performed at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle, a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids in the San Diego foster system, and a volunteer with a handful of organizations focused on equitable education and entrepreneurship and the freedom it allows. If you scrolled down my Linkedin profile to roles I had thirty years before, you’d see that I served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne and the quick reaction force of Presidents Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton in the early 1990’s, when the JFK Assassination Report was first released publicly, and that I briefly hed a diplomatic passport as a peacekeeper in the Middle East and served as a communication laison with the Multinational Force and Observers in 1993; the MFO had, incidentally, been created by President Carter in 1979, just as the congressional JFK Assassination Report was first shown to a president for the firt time. I don’t know why it was hidden for so long or why parts are classified. The MFO base was, like Guantanamo, a temporary solution and resisted publicly, but is still in the Sinai peninsula buffering Egypt and Israel, and that forgotten fact may help explain my interest in obscure military bases on foreign soil that people have forgotten about, and why I wanted to wander around Guantanamo while in Cuba. My work with entrepreneusrhip and education qualified me for Obama’s new entrepreneurship loophole to visit Cuba.

Long before Linkedin existed, Jason Ian Patin showed up in court documents when I was a kid and before I knew my middle name. In Septermber of 1976, when I was about four years old, Judge JJ Lottingger of the East Baton Rouge Parish 19th judicial district had a few things to say about Wendy and me. Like with any author, especially a judge, it’s useful to look at their background and the situation as they saw it before forming opinions about what they wrote. I met Lottingger when I was a kid, but I don’t recall the details, so what follows is my understanding of him and the context surrounding my 1976 court records that are, for reasons I don’t understand, available online.

In 1975, Judge Lottingger transferred from thirty years in Louisiana state legislative law in the Baton Rouge capital building, not to far from Big Daddy’s office in Teamsters Local #5, and Lottingger had worked with three governors over fifteen years, trying to rid Louisiana of my grandfather. My case was one of his first after Judge Pugh, the original trial judge for my case who removed me from my parents custody in 1973, allegedly committed suicide around the time Hoffa disappeared from the Red Fox restaurant parking lot in Detroit on July 30th, 1975, which motivated many books and films and conspiracy theories, including the 2019 film The Irishman and sparked my interest in researching my family while I was in Cuba, and why I had so many court records downloaded on my phone when I was in Havana. I obviously never met Hoffa, or at least I don’t remember if I did and I can’t imagine him traveling to Baton Rouge to chit chat with Big Daddy before he disappeared, but I’ve always felt a connection to his story because of how much it overlaps with mine.

The Kennedys spent more than ten years and untold millions of dollars pursuing criminal charges against Hoffa in what media dubbed “The Blood Feud,” because of the intense public rage between Bobby and Hoffa. Hoffa called Bobby “Booby” and “snot nosed little brat” at every press conferesnce and even in person, and there was more than one physical encourter between the two famous men, like two immature school boys taunting each other about fighting in the playground after class. Their spectecal created daily news, and when Big Daddy became the surpise witness against Hoffa in 1964, the Partin family became nationally known and showcased in Life and Look! magazines and many news shows. Hoffa appealed and the news followed his drama, and he went to prison after hiring the nations best lawyers to fight Big Daddy’s testimony in a series of appeals resulting in the supreme court’s 1966 decision to accept Big Daddy’s testimony. The Partins made the news again, because Chief Justice Earl Warren, famosu for the 1964 Warren Report that erroneously claimed Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed President Kennedy, voted against using Big Daddy’s testimony and exposed many of Big Daddy’s crimes that had been covered up by Bobby Kennedy in his pursuit of Hoffa, which began the public’s demand for a congressional inquiry that wouldn’t be completed until 1979 and not disclosed publicly until 1992, when newly elected president Bill Clinton responded to public pressure from the 1992 films JFK and Hoffa and released about 60% of the report; but, none of that was known by anyone outside of a few national leaders when I was in the foster system, and most people still haven’t read the congressional report on conspiracies linked to JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr.

When Bobby was shot and killed in 1968, the same year Puerto Rican Teamster leader Chavez was murdered, Hoffa was in prison and Big Daddy was mentioned nationally again for his part in The Blood Fued, and then showcased again in Life magazine in an expose on the newly acknowledge threat of organized crime, called the mafia. For me, and most people I know, it’s hard to imagine a time when Americans didn’t know about the mob, and all of that publicity about the scope of organized crime put Big Daddy in the spotlight again. The 1968 Life magazine expose on the mafia showed Big Daddy sitting in his Teamster chair, discussing how he turned down Marcellos milion dollar bribe for him to recant his testimony against Hoffa, and pundits dismissed the thought of a mob boss bribing anyone, though they didn’t undestand the situtation back then.

No one other than Hoffa’s lawyers and the heads of mafia families knew a few facts, and only the FBI knew that Hoffa shared attornies with mafia bosses Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafacante Junior, and that Hoffa was still in control an estimated billion dollars in unregulated, untraceable Teamster pension funds, and had been lending it to mafia families since before Ameirca knew the words mafia or organizzed crime. Hoffa had been lending mafia families millions of dollars a year since the late 1950’s to finance hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, New Jersey, and probably in many other cities; and, inexplicably, jointly funding Hollywood films with mafia leaders. The FBI didn’t know how much the mafia owed Hoffa, and not even Walter realized how much money Hoffa controlled, but decades later you could extract from a handful of books that when Hoffa was responsible for more than a billion dollars in unregulated Teamster dues and continuously raked in about $15 million a month from almost three million Teamsters, and in prison the mafia owned him about $121 Million, which was a lot of money back then. And people still don’t realize how much legitamite buisness the mafia controls: Hoffa lent them money to build casinos in burgeoning Las Vegas and hotels in their home cities, and, remarkably, Hollywood films. In exchange, Hoffa’s Teamsters received contracts to truck goods and products from ports like New York and New Orleans to the casinos along the newly built I-10, and to move filming equipment and operate the trailers that housed actors in different locations across America. To the mob, being forgiven $121 Million and freeing Hoffa so that he could resume lending them money from the billion dollar kitty seemed like smart business.

A series of attacks began in and around Baton Rouge on anyone named Partin, and, despite their differences, Walter had FBI director J. Edgar Hoover assign more federal agents to follow and protect the Partins. They weren’t in the witness protection program, and Big Daddy was so recognizable that no one could hide him, anyway. Big Daddy appreciated the attention, and was showcased around Louisiana with an enterouge of big, brutal Teamsters and former LSU football players following him. He felt they were more effective than the young, black suit wearing federal marshalls who had probably never shot a firearm while people were shooting at them and were as useful as, according to family lore and lingo of the south, tits on a boar hog.

Around the months Wendy met my dad, Big Daddy was in the news again because Hoffa, still in prison, and presidential Nixon sent Audie Murphy to Baton Rouge with a promise of a presidential pardon if Big Daddy recanted and freed Hoffa. In exchange, Hoffa promised Nixon campaign funding and his endoresement, and presumably the support of three million voting Teamsters. It was an offer Nixon couldn’t refuse. But, Big Daddy did, and Audie died in a plane crash a week after flying his private plane from Baton Rouge to Virginia, and all four passengers died. Big Daddy was the main suspect. Years later, Audie’s death was attributed to pilot error, but conspiracy theorists wouldn’t have known that and they locked onto the story. Most people in my familly felt that it wasn’t unlikely that Big Daddy would orchestrate the death of a plane full of people, and Big Daddy never denied it and only smiled subtly when it was suggested. Audie was a famous movie star of almost forty war films who had filed bankruptcy and was hoping for a new movie or business deal funded by Hoffa, and he was adored by all sides of the political spectrum because he was a handsome, articulate man and famous as America’s most decorated war veteran, having won every medal the United States could bestow and with a verified kill count of 278 Germans, a number that impressed even the mafia hitmen who were trying to intimidate Big Daddy. Anyone who could kill Audie Murphy shouldn’t be triffed with, and attacks subsided and Big Daddy said he would help Hoffa, if possible, but not by changing his testimony, even with Nixon’s promise to pardon him.

Hoffa decided to fund and endorse Nixon, anyway, and one of the first things newly elected President Nixon did was pardon Hoffa on December 21st, 1971, in time for Hoffa to return home to his family for Christmas. On that day, Big Daddy was no longer needed to keep Hoffa in prison, the Partin family lost the small army of federal marshals secretively protecting them and Walter became a nationally recognized NBC news correspondent focused on educating people about the behind the scenes actions of mafia, Hoffa, and Nixon that threatened American democracy because of voter ignorance, which I think is why he rushed his book into publication and focused so much on Audie Murphy, who was still mourned by all sides of the political parties in 1972.

Hoffa would publish a book, too, in 1975, just before he vanished. Hoffa on Hoffa. He and Walter obviously had different views of labor unions and presidents, and no one would say they were friendly to each; though Hoffa’s hatred of Bobby and the Kennedy’s was so great it overshadowed nuances between Hoffa and Walter, and neither doubted the other’s persistence. They may have even respected each other a bit, like a wolf dog secretively respecting the wolf and vice versa, while the sheep seem obliviuos to anything other than that day’s grazing. They seemed to agree on Big Daddy, therefore they agreed with Chief Justice Earl Warren’s assessment of Big Daddy’s criminal history and the challenge of accepting the testimony of someone with his history.

Warren was the only dissenting judge in Hoffa vs The United States, a fact that Hoffa used to imply the other judges were influenced by “Booby,” and this is what Warren said in his notes attached to the case for posterity to ponder:

Here, Edward Partin, a jailbird languishing in a Louisiana jail under indictments for such state and federal crimes as embezzlement, kidnapping, and manslaughter (and soon to be charged with perjury and assault), contacted federal authorities and told them he was willing to become, and would be useful as, an informer against Hoffa, who was then about to be tried in the Test Fleet case. A motive for his doing this is immediately apparent — 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, he 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 charges have apparently vanished into thin air.

This type of informer and the uses to which he was put in this case evidence a serious potential for undermining the integrity of the truthfinding process in the federal courts. Given the incentives and background of Partin, no conviction should be allowed to stand when based heavily on his testimony. And that is exactly the quicksand upon which these convictions rest, because, without Partin, who was the principal government witness, there would probably have been no convictions here.

Here, the Government reaches into the jailhouse to employ a man who was himself facing indictments far more serious (and later including one for perjury) than the one confronting the man against whom he offered to inform. It employed him not for the purpose of testifying to something that had already happened, but rather for the purpose of infiltration to see if crimes would in the future be committed. The Government, in its zeal, even assisted him in gaining a position from which he could be a witness to the confidential relationship of attorney and client engaged in the preparation of a criminal defense. And, for the dubious evidence thus obtained, the Government paid an enormous price.

Warren’s comments about federal and state charges vanishing into thin air explains a lot about why so few people knew about Big Daddy’s past, and part of why I’ve kept a handful of books and online files for decades. Warren even mentioned Mamma Jean, though not by name and not knowing her history. Just before Big Daddy was arrested in 1962, when Bobby freed him in exchange for Big daddy infiltrating Hoffa’s inner circle, Mamma Jean had fled him with her five children and hid them in her family’s relatibely hidden hunting and fishing camps throughout Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi; Walter and his team of FBI agents found her, and in exchange for her silence Bobby arranged for the federal government to buy her a home in Houston, close to her family but far from Big Daddy’s Teamsters, who were known to kidnap fellow Teamster’s kids after unfavorable custody decisions, and pay her a generous monthly living wage as long as Hoffa remained in prison. Warren wrote:

Upon his arrival in Nashville, Partin manifested his “friendship” and made himself useful to Hoffa, thereby worming his way into Hoffa’s hotel suite and becoming part and parcel of Hoffa’s entourage. As the “faithful” servant and factotum of the defense camp which he became, he was in a position to overhear conversations not directed to him, many of which were between attorneys and either their client or prospective defense witnesses. Pursuant to the general instructions he received from federal authorities to report “any attempts at witness intimidation or tampering with the jury,” “anything illegal,” or even “anything of interest,” Partin became the equivalent of a bugging device which moved with Hoffa wherever he went. Everything Partin saw or heard was reported to federal authorities, and much of it was ultimately the subject matter of his testimony in this case. For his services, he was well paid by the Government, both through devious and secret support payments to his wife and, it may be inferred, by executed promises not to pursue the indictments under which he was charged at the time he became an informer.

Hoffa’s lawyers focused on about $1,300 paid to Mamma Jean per customary practices of arranging travel for witnesses, but that wasn’t enough to imply Big Daddy was bribed, and not even the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would know what most of my family knew about Mamma Jean, her unflinching faith and belief in not lying, and her resout refusal to discuss Big Daddy with anyone. When pressed about the right and wrong of her silence when most people assumed Big Daddy had lied and sent Hoffa to prison to get out of jail himself, was that she was able to care for her children and “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Decades later, after the release of the JFK Assassination Report and an onslaught of books on Hoffa and The Blood Fued, we’d learn that Hoffa had tried several ways to bribe or influence jurors in the Test Fleet case, so it’s likely Big Daddy told the truth that time, though none of us knew that. But, it would explain why Hoffa never denied it, and why he never directly threatened Big Daddy. In his 1975 book, his first words about my grandfather were, “Edward Grady Partin was a big, rugged guy who could charm a snake off a rock,” and that Bobby used him and Life magazine to paint a false picture of Bobby’s star witness as being an All American Hero. He then went on to agree with Warren on many points.

But then came the killing shot that was to nail me to the cross.

Edward Grady Partin.

And Life magazine once again was Robert Kenedy’s tool. He figured that, at long last, he was going to dust my ass and he wanted to set the public up to see what a great man he was in getting Hoffa.

Life quoted Walter Sheridan, head of the Get-Hoffa Squad, that Partin was virtually the all-American boy even though he had been in jail “because of a minor domestic problem.”

Let’s take a look at this “all-American boy” and his record, which was carefully kept from the jury by Judge Wilson and the government.

In December, 1943, he was arrested in the state of Washington for breaking and entering. Pleading guildy, he was senteneded to fifteen years in the state penitentiary, from which he escaped twice.

Freed, he joined the Marine Corps and was dishonorably discharged. He had been accused of raping a young black girl.

Becoming head of the Teamster local in Baton Rouge, he was charged by certain members with embezzling $1600 in union funds and he had been indicted on thirteen counts of falsifying records and thirteen counts of embezzlement.

While out on fifty thougsand dollars’ bond, he had been indicted in Alamama in Septermber of 1962 on charges of first-degree manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident.

One day beofe the Alambama incictment, he surrendered on September 25th, 1962, to Louisiana authorities on a kidnaping charge, the “minor domestic problem” to which Life magazine had referred. He had assisted a friend in snatching the friend’s two smallc hildren from teh friend’s wife, who had leagal custody of the children.”

Walter Sheridan couldn’t deny the facts presented by Hoffa and Warren, and in his 1972 book he said this about Big Daddy:

“Partin, like Hoffa, had come up the hard way. While Hoffa was building his power base in Detroit during the early forties, Partin was drifting around the country getting in and out of trouble with the law. When he was seventeen he received a bad conduct discharge from the Marine Corps in the state of Washington for stealing a watch.One month later he was charged in Roseburg, Oregon, for car theft. The case was dismissed with the stipulation that Partin return to his home in Natchez, Mississippi. Two years later Partin was back on the West Coast where he pleaded guilty to second degree burglary. He served three yeas in the Washington State Reformatory and was parolled in February, 1947. One year later, back in Mississippi, Partin was again in trouble and served ninety days on a plea to a charge of petit larceny. Then he decided to settle down. He joined the Teamsters Union, went to work, and married a quiet, attractive Baton Rouge girl. In 1952 he was elected to the top post in Local 5 in Baton Rouge. When Hoffa pushed his sphere of influence into Louisiana, Partin joined forces and helped to forcibly install Hoffa’s man, Chuck Winters from Chicago, as the head of the Teamsters in New Orleans.”

But Walter and his FBI agents and Hoffa and his team of lawyers missed a few points. Mamma Jean was from Spring Hill in the northern most corner of Louisiana, not Baton Rouge, and she wasn’t quiet. Walter mistook her refusal to discuss anything about Big Daddy with anyone as being quiet, but he had never heard her detail her religious beliefs to door-to-door evangelicals, or expound on the proper way to fry catfish when creating a cookbook as a fundraiser for her church. When pressed for details by anyone, she’d quote Matthew 5:37, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” But there’s no way that Walter would have known that unless he had sat down to a fried catfish dinner with Mamma Jean just as the door knocked and someone either tried to preach to her or asked her about Big Daddy and Hoffa. And, though the marine records say Big Daddy stole a watch, that was only because the captain was embarassed to say that a new recruit had punched him out and removed his watch as an insult to injury. At the time, 1943, Big Daddy was 17 years old and had just been found guilty of stealing all the guns in Woodville Mississippi and accepted a judge’s choice: go to jail, or join the marines and go to war. He joined, knowing he’d do something to get out, and two weeks later he punched a captain and was dishonorably discharged and allowed to return to Woodville, ironically stealing a watch after having been convicted of stealing guns. It’s obvious that at young age Big Daddy knew how to avoid staying in jail or doing anything he didn’t want. From what I understand, he never learned more about Mamma Jean and my dad, uncle, and aunts until just before Big Daddy died in 1990, and by then not much about 1972 mattered much to any of them, other than my birth.

Walter was politically motivated, and his book was unabashed in highlighting what he felt were corrupt politicians and mafia leaders collaborating to free Hoffa from prison. Walter had to address Big Daddy, who was exhaustivley mentioned in The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa, because not only was Big Daddy’s word the sole reason Hoffa was in prison, his background was surfacing more and more and he was starting to be seen like a state version of Hoffa, using strong arm tacticts to spread the teamsters, influencing Hollywood films, and collaborating with the mafia. And like Hoffa was pursued by President Kennedy and US Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, Big Daddy was pursued by Loiusiana governors and district attornies, supported by legislative lawyers like Judge JJ Lottingger.

A series of events involving Big Daddy had to be addressed in Walter’s 1972 book, and he did it thoroughly, as you’d expect from a former FBI agent turned national news correspondent who had staked his entire career on Big Daddy’s testimony against Hoffa. He began by saying: “There is no question that Edward Grady Partin was and is a controversial figure. Perhaps he broght some of his problems on himself. He is a proud, tough, and cunning man operatin in a section of this country with its own unique tradition of justice and an unusual tolerance for corruption.”

Walter then said that no other labor leader received as much attention as Big Daddy, implying it was a ploy to intimidate him into recanting his testimony. He wrote, “In Baton Rouge the statge was set for what was to become an all-out effort to destroy Ed Partin.”

One of the most pressing accusations was Big Daddy’s indictment in a nationally covered trial against the only person ever, to this day, brought to trial for President Kennedy’s murder, New Orleans buisinessman Clay Shaw. The New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrision, indicted Big Daddy based on a witness saying he drove Lee Harvey Oswald to the New Orleans airport before he arrived in Dallas, and another witness possessing a photo of Big Daddy with Jack Ruby about a month before Ruby shot and killed Oswald in the Dallas police station and in front of 110 Million viewers of live television; things like that are hard to sweep under the rug, even for skilled FBI teams. Most people then remembered that Oswald was born in New Orleans before he defected to Russia, and returend there with his wife and baby and became a pro-Castro activist, and that Garrison was linking Oswald, Shaw, and Ruby with mafia and CIA operatives in New Orleans; but only a few knew that Oswald trained in the Baton Rouge civil air force under the alias Harvey Lee, down the street from Grandma Foster’s house and Glen Oaks High School. Later research verified he hadn’t flown to Dallas, but took a bus, and Big Daddy’s indictment was omitted from Garrison’s book, JFK, which would become the 1992 movie and plant the deepest seed for a CIA conspiracy. The witnesses against Big Daddy disappeared, and the photo of him and Ruby never resurfaced. Walter dismissed all of Garrison’s work as politically motivated, including Walter’s own indictment by Garrison for alleggedly bribing a witness against shaw with a job and other benefits, just like he had done for my family, as a way that Garrisoin was abusing his legal power. This was, of coure, foder for people speculating about Big Daddy’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination. Just imagine any big political scandal in the news today and the names you know from it, and Big Daddy was just like one of those names. There was no way to avoid the topic of Big Daddy when it came to anything related to politicians and unions back then.

The second big event Walter addressed was the repeated claims by Louisiana Governor McKeithen, a vocal advesary against Big Daddy in state news, the same way presidents and attorny generals spoke against Hoffa nationally, that Big Daddy was a menance and only allowed to stay in Louisiana because of his federal protection. McKeithen was pro-industry, and every time Big Daddy or the other unions struck, Loiusiana industries would loose tens of millions of dollars in revenue, which discouraged other industries from opening in Loiusiana; conversely, Big Daddy was bringing industry into the state, like Hollywood films and a slew of chemical companies located north of the airport and away from rail lines but along the new, taxpayer funded I-110 that allowed Teamster turckers to haul gas, oil, and chemicals without competition. Most of what Big Daddy did was only known to those who benefited and were loyal enough to remain silent, but one incident made so much news that McKeithen had to focus on it. When the Ready Mix concrete factory in Plaquemine, directly across the river from Baton Rouge, refused to use Teamster truckers, a series of confrontations led to a publicized shootout involving dozens of armed Teamsters against just as many mercenaries, Vietnam conflict vets, and low level mafia hitmen paid to protect the Ready Mix factory. A few people died. Big Daddy prevailed, and McKeithen claimed “I won’t let Ed Partin and his ganster hoodlum Teamsters run this state!” To which national news focused on McKeithen being told by Walter to simply “Lay off Patin.” Walter didn’t, and his fued against Big Daddy became so well known that Walter had to focus on it, outlining the financial incentives of everyone involved but missing many points that only our family knew, that Big Daddy secritively orchestrated the success of more industry than he prevented with strikes, another bit of information that comes out long after words are set in stone.

Judge Lottingger worked under McKeithen, and probably read the news. I’m sure he would have seen a New Orleans newspaper article on 25 June 1971, about events preceeding to the Plaquemine shootout that motivated Ted Dunham, owner of the Ready Mix cement factor, to hire mercenaries to protect his plant; it’s indicative of the type of local reporting that belied national headlines about Big Daddy being an all-American hero, and tells you the type of people Big Daddy kept near him around the time Wend met my dady.

Burly Wade McClanahan, a 36 year old “strong arm” and trusted lieutenant of Edward Grady Partin, says he shot a construction worker at Plaquemine on orders of Partin, a Louisiana Teamsters Union official.

The 36-year-old McClanahan, 6-feet-4 and .250 pounds, told a federal court jury he shot and wounded ,W. 0. Bergeron, a contractor doing business with a competitor of convicted conspirator Ted-F. Dithham Jr., after Partin instructed him to create a disturbance at Bergeron’s job site.’

McClanahan, charged with criminal conspiracy, described himself as a “trusted lieutenant Of Partin” and testified about beatings, shootings, sabotage’ and other means of “solving problems” for Partin.

McClanahan said he and the late Jerry Sylvester led an armed attack on the Plaquemine construction site. He said both men were members of Local 5 in Baton Rouge, paid dues, but had no duties other than strong-arm jobs as needed and ordered by Partin.

I don’t know what happened to Jerry Sylvester. But, as I mentioned, family lore is that no one spoke ill of Big Daddy and lived. I never followed through with “Burly Wade McClanahan,” so I don’t know what happened to him, either. Uncle Doug, who is mentioned here and there as Big Daddy’s little brother, never told me; but, he told me things that never made the news. Apparently, he and Big Daddy had knocked on the doords of all other companies in Louisiana politily, and when a middle manager of the Ready Mix plant shut the door on Big Daddy’s face, they returned and knocked on the door with shotguns loaded with .12 gage shells modified to be small grenades by slitting the plastic with a razor blade along the metal primer, so that the slug shot out and punched through the door and hit something inside and sent shotgun pellets flying everywhere, not killing anyone but waking them up and changing the tone of previous negotiations. With the exception of Ready Mix, almost all businesses seemed to use Local #5 labor, probably because that seemed wiser than the alternatives. I don’t know what inspired Dunham to refuse thier offer and lead to the infamous shootout.

Another thing made news just before I was born, too late to be included in Walter’s book but often cited, removed, and recited on Wikipedia, was that Big Daddy stole $450,000 in unregulated pension fund from the Local #5 safe. Like Hoffa, Big Daddy had access to unregulated money, though not on Hoffa’s scale. The safe was found empty and without fingerprints at the bottom of a murky Baton Rouge river and the only two witnesses were found beaten and bloody. The survivor refused to testify. I never confirmed which river, but I suspect it was the Comite river near the bridge by Big Daddy’s house where I lived, briefly, with my mom and dad. McKeithen, and presumably Judge Lottingger, focused on prosecuting Big Daddy for that. After Hoffa disappeared and Lottingger assumed the role of Baton Rouge’s family court judge, Big Daddy would be found guilty of stealing the $450,000 and a few other charges for racketeering and abusing labor laws, but no one found evidence of murder.

When Big Daddy was being showcased as a hero, almost everyone in the world was sympathetic to Bobby for having lost his brother, and everyone knew how that happened, at least the big picture of it. Not even Chief Justice Earl Warren, leader of the Warren report on Kennedy’s assassination and the only dissenter against using Big Daddy’s testimony in Hoffa vs The United States, knew the details of Big Daddy and Hoffa, though everyone knew what happened to Kennedy. On November 22nd, 1963, John F. Kennedy was riding through Dallas, Texas, in his convertible when he was shot and killed aby at least one round from a 6.5mm Italian army surplus sniper rifle that matched the one Oswald had ordered from a catalog and had outfitted with a scope by a Dallas gunsmith. In 1992, the complete 1962 surveillance report was released by President Clinton as part of the JFK Assassination Report, and it reversed the Warren Report’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed Kennedy and that Jack Ruby acted alone when he shot and killed Oswald, saying Kennedy’s assassination was probably a conspiracy and involved more than one shooter, and that three primary suspects with the motive and means to orchestrate Kennedy’s murder were Hoffa, Marcello, and Trafacante; and that Castro and the Soviet Union were uninvolved, and neither was the FBI or CIA, at least not as official orders, just like mafia hitmen tried to intimidate Big Daddy without official orders from anyone higher up who could be prosecuted. The congressional committee had access to Hoover’s files, or at least what we presume are accurate files and not forgeries, including the 1962 surveillance that began on Big Daddy, not Hoffa, and included the part about plastic explosives that Mamma Jean mentioned in her letter to my family and me, and the official report chided the agencies that hid that information from the 1964 Warren Report. Apparently, after Big Daddy refused Hoffa’s plot to blow up Bobby’s house, saying he didn’t want to endager Bobby’s children, Hoffa suggested recruiting someone with a sniper rifle to shoot Kennedy in the convertible he always used, preferably in a southern town that was politically opposed to the Kennedys and therefore easier to gain support. If they found a shooter, Hoffa said, they’d have to ensure he couldn’t be connected to the Teamsters. The report said:

“While the committee did not uncover evidence that the proposed Hoffa assassination plan ever went beyond its discussion, the committee noted the similarities between the plan discussed by Hoffa in 1962 and the actual events of November 22, 1963. While the committee was aware of the apparent absence of any finalized method or plan during the course of Hoffa’s discussion about assassinating Attorney General Kennedy, he did discuss the possible use of a lone gunman equipped with a rifle with a telescopic sight, the advisability of having the assassination committed somewhere in the South, as well as the potential desirability of having Robert Kennedy shot while riding in a convertible. While the similarities are present, the committee also noted that they were not so unusual as to point ineluctably in a particular direction. President Kennedy himself, in fact, noted that he was vulnerable to rifle fire before his Dallas trip. Nevertheless, references to Hoffa’s discussion about having Kennedy assassinated while riding in a convertible were contained in several Justice Department memoranda received by the Attorney General and FBI Director Hoover in the fall of 1962. Edward Partin told the committee that Hoffa believed that by having Kennedy shot as he rode in a convertible, the origin of the fatal shot or shots would be obscured. The context of Hoffa’s discussion with Partin about an assassination conspiracy further seemed to have been predicated upon the recruitment of an assassin without any identifiable connection to the Teamsters organization or Hoffa himself.”

That reprot was probably accurate, or at least it existed before the president was shot and killed, because several biographies of Kennedy mention that he was told a few weeks before Dallas that he was under a threat of being shot in Dallas and that Hoffa may be plotting something, and that Kennedy decided to procede in his convertible, anyway. I have no reason to doubt the 1962 report, half of which was endorsed publicly by Hoover himself in a 1964 Life magazine photo of Big Daddy with hooked up to the FBI’s fancy new lie detector machine and surrounded by FBI scientists in white lab coats, verifying that Hoffa had plotted to kill Bobby with Big Daddy’s help, presumably with Marcello’s help, though I don’t know why they would have hidden the parts about a sniper rifle from congress until 1979 and from the public until 1992.

Even without all of the details, Wendy must have been shocked to go from being a 16 year old girl nicknamed WAR to Mrs. Edward Partin and learning about her new family through the news and seeing almost everyone in Baton Rouge named Partin be beaten or having thier homes blown up. When Wendy was divorcing my dad and fighting for custody, Lottingger must have known most of my family’s history, yet he didn’t mention it in his 1976 custody ruling. When Wendy passed away in 2019, I imagined his report and the obituary I wrote as bookends of her life, bypassing a lot of details in between. Here’s what Lottingger had to say about our situation back then:

This is a suit by Edward Partin, Jr., plaintiff, seeking a divorce from his wife, Wendy Rothdram Partin, defendant, after having lived separate and apart for more than one year following a judgment of separation from bed and board. Plaintiff also seeks custody of the minor child, Jason Ian Partin, and the defendant reconvened asking that she be granted the permanent care, custody and control of the minor child.

The Trial Court had previously, by ex parte order, awarded the temporary care, custody and control of the minor to Mr. and Mrs. James Ed White. Following trial on the merits, plaintiff was awarded a divorce as well as the permanent care, custody and control of the minor child, with the temporary physical custody of the minor child to remain with Mr. and Mrs. James Ed White. The defendant has appealed this judgment as it regards the custody of the child.

This couple was married when plaintiff was 17 and the defendant was 16 years of age. Nine months following the marriage, they gave birth to young Jason. While we are not concerned with the facts surrounding the separation and divorce, it was apparently one of incompatibility as defendant testified that at the age of 17 she found herself married to a man who did not love her and so she left. Her testimony was as follows:

“As I say I was emotionally upset. I was receiving little support from Edward. I was scared, very confused. I didn’t know exactly which way to turn. I felt I had no one to listen and help with the situation at hand.”

Several weeks later she returned and lived with her husband again. She found that the situation hadn’t changed, and felt she had to get away again. She heard of a man who wanted someone to share expenses on a trip to California, so she quit her job and with her last wages left with him. She testified that she had no sexual relations with this man, and plaintiff does not accuse her of such. Following this trip she returned to Baton Rouge still emotionally upset. Her husband was suing her for separation and told her he was going to take custody of Jason. She went to live with her aunt and uncle, got a full time job with Kelly Girls paying $512.00 per month.

In February, 1975, the defendant’s mother was injured in an accident and she moved in with her to care for her. In September, 1975, following the recuperation of the mother she returned to live with her aunt and uncle.

During these above periods of time, the minor child lived with Mr. and Mrs. White. The Whites came to regard Jason as their own and, although the separation judgment awarded custody to the plaintiff with reasonable visitation privileges to the defendant, the Whites decided the defendant-mother could only see the child two days a month and that she could never keep the child over night. The reason the defendant did not contest custody at the separation trial was because at the time she felt unable emotionally and financially to care for her son.

[Judge Lottinger wrote a paragraph of legal jargon here, citing the “double burden” placed on Wendy by the deceased Judge Pugh to go above and beyond what was typically necessary to regain custody.]

We note that the petition for separation was grounded on habitual intemperance, as well as abandonment of the husband and the minor child. There are no other grounds listed for the separation nor for custody. The petition for the separation and custody of the minor child was not contested by the defendant, and a default judgment was granted. Defendant testified in the instant proceedings that the reason she did not contest custody in the separation proceeding was that she was not financially or emotionally capable of caring for the minor, and that knowing the Whites were going to be caring for him, she knew he would be in good hands.

Though the petition for separation had as one of its allegations “habitual intemperance”, the plaintiff in the instant proceeding testified that he had never accused his wife of drinking, nor had he ever seen her drink.

[Judge Lottinger goes on to cite a few precent cases, verdicts from previous judges in higher courts used to justify his opinions, a detail that’s less important in Louisiana’s unique version of the Napoleonic legal code still lingering from the Louisiana purchase that gives judges more freedoms than in all other states.]

The welfare of the child is the main issue that the Court is concerned with. This issue is more important than any wishes or wants the parents may have. Fulco v. Fulco, 259 La. 1122, 254 So.2d 603 (1971), rehearing denied (1971). As a general rule, and in particular where children of young age are involved, preference is given to the mother in custody cases. This preference is very simply explained, the mother is normally better able to care for the child and look after the education, rearing, and training necessary. Estes v. Estes, 261 La. 20, 258 So.2d 857 (1972), rehearing denied (1972).

No argument is made that the mother is not now morally or emotionally fit to care for the child, or that the house in which she lives is not a proper place to rear a child. In fact, the Trial Judge admitted that it was a fine home.

The Trial Judge has not favored us with written reasons for judgment, however, we must conclude from various statements by the Trial Judge that appear in the record that he could find no fault with the defendant, nor was there anything wrong with the house in which she lived. It thus becomes apparent to this Court that the Trial Judge applied the “double burden” rule to the defendant. We have already ruled that the “double burden” rule does not apply in this situation, and thus, under the established jurisprudential rules, we can see no reason why the defendant-mother should not be granted the permanent care, custody and control of the minor child with reasonable visitation privileges granted to the father.

In consideration of our above opinion, there is no need to discuss the specification of error as to the ex parte granting of custody to the Whites.

Therefore, for the above and foregoing reasons, the judgment of the Trial Court is reversed, and IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the defendant-appellant, Wendy Rothdram Partin, be and she is hereby granted the permanent care, custody and control of the minor, Jason Ian Partin, and IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that this matter be and it is hereby remanded to the Trial Court for the purpose of fixing specific visitation privileges on behalf of plaintiff-appellee Edward Partin, Jr. All costs of the appeal are to be paid by plaintiff-appellee.

I’d languish in the foster system for a couple of more years because of appeals by my dad and his lawyers, and PawPaw and MawMaw’s efforts to adopt me; I called Mr. and Mrs. Ed White PawPaw and MawMaw. I’d finally live with Wendy beginning around 1979, just before Big Daddy finally went to prison for stealing the $450,000 and a few other, lesser charges. The memories I remember, whether accurate or not, begin around 1975 to 1976. No two members of my family have ever agreed to what happened up to that point, so I relied on research and a few family ancedotes to put together this history of my mom and dad from 1962 to 1976. I may have made a few mistakes, but in the bigger picture it’s safe to say that a lot was going on by almsot anyone’s standards, and that Wendy was a young girl and overwhelmed.

I’m impressed that Judge Lottingger barerly mentioned Wendy’s past other than to show growth, saying, “No argument is made that the mother is not now morally or emotionally fit to care for the child, or that the house in which she lives is not a proper place to rear a child. In fact, the Trial Judge admitted that it was a fine home.” But, even Lottingger made mistakes by quoting Pugh. Wendy’s first home was a tiny appartment near the highway and a run down and remote part of Baton Rouge near Belaire High School, and it was a stained, crumbling, cockroach infested piece of shit behind a busy Chinese restaurant with questionable garbage disposal habits that led to a permenent stench and abundance of flies all summer. I don’t know what would have made Pugh say it was a fine home and I can’t fault Lottingger for relying on quotes from other judges, especially because he got most of the rest right. But, it’s a small example of innacuracies in court reports that swirls around my mind like flies hoovering around an uncoverd dumpster, and why I rarely rely soley on anyone’s written word, especially when I can travel and look into things myself.

Forty three years after Lottingger’s custody report, when I was rereading my custody court report at a bar in Havana, I noticed something for the first time, even after all those years. Lottingger wrote, “Though the petition for separation had as one of its allegations “habitual intemperance”, the plaintiff in the instant proceeding testified that he had never accused his wife of drinking, nor had he ever seen her drink.”

I miss a lot of information and I’ve always known that, which is why I reread things and reaccess my old opinions and biases. In Havana, I pondered that realization for a while, reflecting on memoriers going back almost half a century. Wendy hadn’t drank when I lived with her in the 1980’s and visited from the 1990’s to the early 2000’s, if you define drinking as getting drunk or buzzed. For most of my life, I never saw her drink more than a glass of wine or two with meals or at a party with my stepdad, Mike, and only a couple of times a week at most. She hadn’t begun getting drunk until around after Mike cheated on her and they separated and she began dating again and, as a still relatively young and attractive woman, met several LSU college students and partook of their lifestyle. Even then, it was only at social events when she was trying to date again, trying to be happy with the situation life had given her. I had forgotten that part, because I had grown accustomed to partially drunk voice mails and had forgotten that Wendy used to be more like Mamma Jean, sharp and focused and laughing about her time with the Partins, even if the laughter was acerbic and more like a release of pressure from having escaped an intense situation in the 70’s.

Wendy and I hadn’t discussed my time in the foster system, other than a few times when she said how proud she was of me, and how proud Uncle Bob and Granny would have been; Auntie Lo was such a drunkard that Wendy often omitted her. I did share with her my service as a CASA, sharing it’s history with her. Coincidentally, the national CASA nonprofit organization began almost immediately after Judge Lottingger’s decision, and my time as a CASA was part of the reason I didn’t vist home for a while after moving to San Diego; it’s surprisingly a lot of work to navigaet the bureocratic foster system, and doing so helped me appreciate why I languished in the sytem for so many years. According to the national CASA website:

Inspiration came to Seattle juvenile court judge David W. Soukup in 1976.

Judge Soukup had insufficient information to make a life-changing decision for a 3-year-old girl who had suffered from child abuse.

That’s where the idea came from: These children, who had experienced abuse or neglect, needed trained volunteers speaking up in the courtroom for their best interests.

The CASA program supports volunteers who are almost as legally bound to a kid as PawPaw was to me, but with more neutraility and an ability to legally oversee health and education rights of kids trapped in the foster sytem when social workers are restricted by state budgets and city boundaries and are unable to follow kids as they journey through beurocracy. Becase many of the kids are from abusive homes and are at-risk for more abuse, CASA’s are overseen by a staff that trains volunteers and oversees security clearnanaces, and allows us to maintain relationships kids across county lines and after social workers change jobs or caseloads. I couldn’t talk about the kids I served, but I could tell Wendy about the program and we reminisced about the frustrations of America’s foster system bureocracy and how judges make life-altering decisions based on partial information and assumptions.

Statistically, about 80% of kids who emancipate from the foster system will go to jail, about 30% before they’re 21, and of those most will be released and return again and again, and so will many of their children. Only 15% or so attend college, and only 3% graduate school. Wendy and I didn’t have an ideal relationship, and I petitioned a court to be emancipated when I was 16. Though not visible online, maybe because there aren’t advertisements bookending emancipation records of 16 year old kids, I have a news clipping from the Baton Rouge Advocate and court paperwork from Judge Robert “Bob” Downing emancipating me from both the Partins and Wendy in 1989. He, too, knew my family well and was more than happy to help. Bob Marley may have sang “only you can emancipate yourself from mental slavery,” but at 16 I needed Bob’s help with the paperwork. The next day, I joined the army and signed up for the college army fund, and in 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and twenty nine years later I was in Cuba resarching my family’s role in Kennedy’s assassination. I haven’t been to jail yet, but I’m still young.

Wendy knew the statistics of emancipated kids, but I never learned the odds of her thriving after being a 16 year old married to Ed Partin Jr. Over time, we developed a deep bond unlike any other mother and son I knew, except a few of the pairs I served as a CASA who experienced similar situations, most without conspiracy theories and mafia hitmen, but several with gang related violence that was probably similar in effect. Their mom’s had PTSD, too, and they had to spend years rebuilding trust with each other and would never quite be like traditional mothers and sons, but could still be loving. Wendy and I were like that. We were more like friends or siblings with a shared past than a mother who gave her son advice, and we were the only ones who could reminess about the Partin family. Who else would believe us? After the Gulf war and as we bonded, she began joking that she was born WAR and lost her first love to war and marring a Partin at 16 WARPed her. Years after Desert Storm, she’d laugh and say that I was emancipated at age 16 and went to war, but at least I didn’t have to live with a Partin any more. She said it with a chuckle, and I’d chuckle back, and so it goes, laughter replacing tears as a response to trauma.

Her humor was dark and sarcastic, but it came from the best place she could muster, and I’ve always believed it was, at least in part, as a way to pass on to me the importance of temperace. My mom and I became friends and had atypical mother-son relationship, which is part of the reason I called my mother Wendy up until just a moment before she passed away. If I had a regret, it would be that I hadn’t realized how much I loved my mother sooner. Compassion fascilitates love, empathy aides compassion, and empathy takes effort; I’m working on it. Mamma Jean was the first one to tell me the words “honor your mother and father,” but I never found a set of instructions on how to do it. Maybe this is it.

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