You either loved Ed or hated him, there was no in between.Douglas Wesley Partin, retired and deceased Teamster leader, and Big Daddy’s little brother, in his self-published 2016 autobiography: “From My Brother’s Shadow: Teamster leader Doug Partin tells his side of the story”
I wasn’t surprised about the bacon. The day before, on the plane ride to Havana, I read in The Lonely Planet that pork in a Cuban family’s home is a treat, a celebration among generation who had gone without, like America after the great depression or much of Europe after both world wars.
After the Berlin Wall fell and Cuba lost its Soviet benefactor, famine on the small island lasted almost a decade. Everyone ate all the pigs, chickens, and varmits from the marshes, and the average person lost 22 pounds (more than I ever lost in a wrestling season, which sucks for them; but, as a kid from Louisiana, hunting marsh varmits sounded fun). I’ve been through a few military schools centered around food and sleep deprivation, and I learned enough to know I don’t want to experience hunger again. Being woken up to the smell of bacon crackling on a stove and people making breakfast for you is a gift few people appreciate deeply.
I’m mostly vegetarian, or at least try to be every now and then, but I indulge in seafood when I travel to islands and am not adverse to eating anything someone puts in front of me. Even The Buddha’s last meal had been pork, because he was begging with his bowl and a villager gave it to him, and I’m not so spoiled that I’d decline bacon made by a host family. I’d be an asshole to decline it and ask for an acai bowl or fresh avocado toast, especially if I followed by complaining about the less than ideal shower in their master bedroom.
Bacon makes me drool, and I found myself salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. If you ever concentrate on which comes first, feelings or thoughts, it’s both. A teenager with a boner envisions porn; seeing porn gives them a boner. You can either breath automatically or with effort, follow a thought or create it. I hadn’t eaten bacon in years, but I salivated smelling it and automatically envisioned a breakfast plate full of crispy fried bacon.
I wolfed down my first helping with eggs, tortillas, and two glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice. After sighing contently, I sipped bitter Cuban coffee tamed with milk and sugar and chatted with the hosts. I asked if they’d adopt me; they debated, but decided they had enough on their plate. They were spry elders with children at work and grandkids in school, all of whom lived at their casa particular. The grandkids shared a room, and they rented their old room to help support their family now that they couldn’t work. I mentioned what The Buddha taught, the nuance between earning your living vs earning your livelihood, and they said they couldn’t agree more. They talked about how much they loved their grandchildren, and how happy they were to earn a bit more money renting out their master bedroom.
When they asked about my family, I said I wanted to see if my mom had called, and they were pretty sure the Plaza de San Francisco de Asi was the best place for a gringo to get public WiFi. I thanked them, said “hasta luego,” brushed my teeth, left their casa, and meandered towards the plaza with a full belly and a sense that, if I were hit by a bus or have a heart attack on the way, I would die without regrets.
I had a spring in my step as I walked along residential back streets. I used a map from my Lonely Planet to force me to read street signs, and, when I inevitably got off the path, to chat with people and get directions to the plaza. I shopped a bit along the makeshift route, careful to mind the only awkward visa requirement of not exchanging currency with government owned businesses. I sought out private vendors, and bought another WiFi card and a pocket knife and a small pair of needle nosed pliers and tucked them into my daypack. I walked along downtown Havana backstreets, looking at shop windows and seeing what I knew and learning what I didn’t. I returned to the same spot in the Plaza de San Francisco de Assi, and learned that Cristi had been unable to reach Wendy. I tried to call again, but got her voice mail again. I left another message; two would be enough to let her know I wanted to listen.
I sat cross-legged, but not noticably so, in the plaza to wait an hour or two for Wendy to call back, in case she checked her messages and called back. To pass time, I organized my daypack.
Almost everything I carried had ulterior motives that I’d discuss if an opportunity presented itself. The daypack was an ultralight waterproof packable bag from Sea-To-Summit, founded by an Australian entrepreneur whose name I never remember. The Lonely Planet listed the names of the husband and wife who founded it in 1973, and I knew they had recently sold their business to BBC for a 51 million Euros or so. I had ordered the book and bag from Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, using my Steve Jobs iPhone, and with voice commands spoken through my earbuds or iBuds or whatever they’re called. My phone had a translation app downloaded, and if I had decent WiFi it could even translate in almost real-time, like a Babble Fish from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though not obvious, I had paid for my plane tickets using PayPal, the company that earned a young engineer named Elon Musk $121 Million after PayPal went public. I could point to more tangible examples in store windows, like the ubiquitous Spanx founded by the world’s first self made female entrepreneur, a former Disney World employee and stand up comedian named Sara Blakely. She had bombed the Florida State law school entrance exam, but iterated her prototypes and learned to patent and eventually got the last laugh.
In Havana, I also carried a Lonely Planet guidebook, a deck of cards, four Kennedy half dollars post-1969 (Kennedy halves used to be pure silver, and silver is soft and dents when I inevitably drop one onto concrete), and a handful of miscellaneous personal items like a pack of gum and hand wipes, and a spoon. (I like yogurt and ice cream, but dislike throwing away plastic spoons). A few years before, I began adding reading glasses and a telescoping hiking pole to my daypack, though I had forgotten the pole on this trip. I used to forget my glasses, too, before I acquiesced to the inevitable. Most of us get sick or loose senses at some point, but it’s hard to accept gracefully. I’m not Coach, who scooted his reading glasses up along his nose to read a few lines from The Daily Bread to us after every practice, or Uncle Bob, who accepted his situation and let me bathe his body and wipe his ass for the final two months of his life, when he was paralyzed from spinal cancer and to weak to roll over. Or Granny, who smoked between radiation treatments and said she’d die like Uncle Bob, without regrets. All were consistently happier than most people I’ve ever known have been on their best days. I’m sure I’ll know why one day; until then, I tweak my daypack packing list gradually, resisting my aging body, and clinging to what used to be the best packing list to carry.
For decades, my daypack included a homemade first aid kit. The Havana version included Band-Aides; I used a generic brand, but I called them Band-Aids, just like I use a Klenex and a Q-Tip for hygiene, and used to Zerox paperwork. I added small packets of antibacterial healing cream that could be shared; dimen-hydramine pills for rashes and bug bites and, in a pinch, motion sickness prevention (motion sickness pills are dyphen-hydromine); an atropine injector, like the ones used in the first Gulf war in case of chemical attack, and, more practically, for people who have severe allergies to bee stings or shellfish.
Since the war, I’ve carried a large container of horse-pill sized ibuprofen tablets, the prescription strength ones buddies dissolved in our canteens and called “Airborne candy,” and pro footballers I know called “Football candy,” presumably dissolving them in sponsored sports drinks and paid much more than my old buddies. The VA prescribes ibuprofen in 800 mg tablets, which is easier to palate than four off-the-shelf pills, and the chalky residue acts like a placebo for me. I tried to not use them habitually, because several studies showed professional football players who took ibuprofen daily were at higher risks of tendon tears, and a university rat study showed drastically reduced tendon tensile strength after being fed a varmit’s lifetime of SSRI’s. Conveniently, ibuprofen is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibiter, which means it has mild anti-depressant side effects. If I felt sad, I could wash one down with a Hemmingway dacquiri, raise a toast to the rats, and hope they were informed about the anti-depressant side affects and had died cheerfully before the tensile-testing machine stretched their tendons to failure, which occurred at something like 30% less force than the non-SSRI rodents who died without the benefit of anti-depressants. My knees weren’t great, but they were all I had, and I reluctantly tempered my ibuprofen addition and only used them when I was too tired to meditate.
I’ve carried a knife since I was four or five years old, like my dad and his father before him, but hadn’t been able to carry one on an airplane since 9/11. Soon after the world trade center collapse and just before the Patriot Act, a pimple faced boy in a TSA uniform stood between me and my flight and took my original, sheet-metal formed, military-issue Leatherman tool. Tim Leatherman invented the original multitool in the 1980’s, after graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Oregon and, not wanting a desk job, bumming around Europe with a Swiss army knife and pair of pliers in a beat up VW van. Five years and hundreds of prototypes later, starting with cardboard and working up to sheet metal, he made the world’s first combination knife and pliers. In the 1980’s, hd scored his first contract for a large order with Delta Force, America’s anti-terrorism unit, before anyone knew what a multitool was and when Delta Force was so unknown it was just the name of a Chuck Norris movie.
Leatherman’s patents for a folding plier/knife combination expired seventeen years later. U.S. patent law now sets the limit at 20 years from date of filing, a consequence following Monsanto’s intentional 30-year delay in accepting their patents for genetically modified plants as a ploy to stifle competition. Since Tim’s patents expired, other brands have made his invention ubiquitous, cheaper, and more competitive; just like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin envisioned when they added patents to our constitution. The unmistakable shape of a multitool opening into pliers is still copywrited by Leatherman for eternity, like the shape of Mickey Mouse’s ears and Nike’s swish; anyone using them pays a penny or two. Similarly, Spyderco’s brilliant hole in a knife blade that allowed one-handed opening was patented, and every knife without a loophole paid Spyderco a penny or two for the right to have a hole. At USD, I used Tim as a case study in engineering and entrepreneurship classes, and new student teams consistently vote to forgo books on entrepreneurship and tests on memorization in lieu of prototype materials and time to iterate, like Tim. When asked whether or not Spyderco’s hole warrants a patent, I quote Uncle Bob’s Asian philosophy from Chapter 11 of The Tao Te Ching:
Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
After 9/11, I’ve almost always forgotten to remove my Victorianox keychain knife before flying. I’ve probably supplied the entire TSA fleet with keychains over the years. I tell that to my students, enforcing that knowing a lot of history doesn’t mean you’re not absent minded and make mistakes. (We don’t have “grades” as much as we have “assessments for improvement.”) I’m not too hypocritical, and I’m notorious for leaving tools and water bottles around and laugh with everyone who points that out. But, I rarely tell anyone about the original Leatherman I lost, the one I found and a friend’s dad engraved it “Magik” and “Airborne.”
I had found it after a bad parachute crash through the tree line, embeded in the mud after having fallen out of someone’s pocket. It had a broken blade tip, and was replaced with a new one from Delta Force’s armory by my platoon leader’s father, Sgt. Major Walter Shumate, the oldest person ever to go through Delta Force training, and the first to do a HALO jump from a civilian jet liner into Laos. He was man so revered he practiced extractions with Desert Strom commander General Stormin’ Normin Scwartzcoff, and his out-of-regulations handlebar moustache is mentioned in dozens of memoirs from Vietnam. He’s immortalized by the Walter Shumate memorial bridge in Virginia; his son, now Lt. Col. “Woo Woo” Shumate, was one of the Ranger platoon leaders not covered in the 1993 film “Black Hawk Down.” That original Leatherman, and all of its history, is probably in a TSA employee’s toolbox or was tossed in a trash can. I still haven’t recovered from the trauma. Though I don’t talk about where I got my first Leatherman tool, most of my friends know my thoughts on the TSA and 9/11. Students probably notice that I group entrepreneurs and their families into history lessons rather than share my stories; Victorianox was named after the founder’s mother, Victoria, and about a hundred years ago, he scored a contract for the first Swiss Army Knife, the one with a corkscrew.
They had priorities back then.
When I check bags, I carry a modern Leatherman multi-tool, one without a corkscrew, but with expensive steel that never rusts and rarely needs sharpening. It has an elongated, oval hole with softened edges for one-handed opening, bypassing the patent for round holes. I assemble a hand-selected kit of tool bits and accessories that could fix almost any problem in any country on Earth. If the next Covid happens while I’m in the middle of nowhere, I’ll be fine.
When I use a carryon, the first thing I buy are tools banned by the TSA. I’ve learned to say knife and pliers in about 20 languages, along with please and thank you; it’s amazing how many people all over the world are willing to help a stranger who looks lost and seems polite, even if they’re neither. (Terrorists often get directions and intel from kind but uninformed strangers.) A pair of needle nose pliers is useful for tightening nuts and bolts of many sizes on boats and dive tanks, and the long tapered end can slip into a knot and loosen it without impulsive Gordian efforts that damage the protective kenmantle and weaken your lifeline.
My tiny daypack was bulging and almost as big as my carry on, just without the shoes and fins and toiletries and a few changes of clothes. I was making due with a few common tools, but the concept is the same: I’m good at first aide and can fix things, and can earn a livelihood almost anywhere that has people. In a pinch, if nothing needed to be fixed, I could do coin tricks in a public square and earn beer money, or spend the $2 on a phone call to have someone bail me out of jail. I like having a safety net.
If I spoke with Wendy, I thought, I’d tell her about the cards and coins in my backpack. It would probably make her laugh, because she had always enjoyed my childhood hobby and encouraged me to perform as a kid, driving me to magic club meetings and a few rare paid performances around town. I’d also tell her about the Force Fins, because she used to complain about how much she spent on shoes every time I hit a growth spurt, and she said I still hadn’t grown into them. I’m 5’11, but I wear 14W shoes. I travel with fins and climbing shoes because guides and rental shops rarely have my size. More than once, on unplanned diving trips, a rental shop employee has joked that they didn’t have my size, but with 14 Wide feet I probably didn’t need fins. Jerks. Wendy had said the same thing the one time we went diving together in Mexico, but she had smiled and her eyes had crinkled and we had laughed together about it. I splurged on a pair of Force Fins soon after; they’re stubby enough to fit into carryon space.
I felt good. Wendy hadn’t responded. I’d wait just a bit more, then walk around looking for clues to Big Daddy in Cuba. I pulled out my phone and opened the JipBook folder, and read the 1996 letter from Mamma Jean that had planted a seed after I asked her the same thing Craig Vincent asked my family when researching his role for The Irishman film: how did Big Daddy fool everyone? Martin Scorcese had raised $257 Million to produce Franks’ 2014 memoir alleging to have killed Hoffa, and Craig would have a small role as “Big Eddie Partin,” Bobby Kennedy’s mole who testified against Hoffa; Scorcese omitted the chapters about Audie Murphy and Nixon, like a lot of other films had, because no one really understood what had happened.
Mamma Jean was the one who Chief Justice Earl Warren mentioned when he said Big Daddy had “devious and secret support payments to his wife. Bobby Kennedy, via Walter Sheridan, bought her a upper middle class suburban home for her and her five children, and ensured she’d have a monthly living allowance as long as she remained silent about Big Daddy and Jimmy Hoffa. She took the money, saying “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” and invested in turning her garage into a hair salon. She was the first entrepreneur I knew. For the rest of her life, her work calendar was booked months in advance by women in her neighborhood and church. It wasn’t just her skills: Mamma Jean was a gorgeous and independent redhead that never spoke about someone who wasn’t in the room, and everyone looked up to her. She ran fundraisers for her church, nurtured her children, and kept her word to Bobby and Walter until Walter’s death in 1995. Here’s what she had to say in 1996:
504 9th N.E.
Springhill, LA 71075
Aug. 17, 1996
My dear children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren,
I don’t know how to begin this. I should have written this when you were small, while it was fresh on my mind, also while your daddy was living. After someone dies, you seem to forget all the bad things and remember only the good in them. That is the way it is with my memories of Ed.
He was so charming when I met him. As Jimmy Hoffa wrote in his book, “Ed Partin could charm a snake off a rock.” It was Aug. 1949 and I was living with my sister, Mildred and her husband, Percy Cobb in Natchez, Mississippi. International Paper Company was building a mill and Percy was superintendent of construction. Ed was steward over the Teamsters, Union (I.B.T.C. and W.). He came to the house one afternoon to talk to Percy concerning the Teamsters, and that is how I met him. I was 18 years old and he was 26. I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. He had blond hair, blue eyes and teeth like pearls. Keith, he looked just like you, except he was 6’2”. He didn’t smoke or drink, not even beer, and I believed every word he said. He loved to come over to Mildred’s when I babysat James Paul. I thought he would make a good father. After six weeks we were married in Fayette, Mississippi, Sept. 27, 1949.
Cynthia, I guess it was good thing I waited three years for you. Ed had not told me about his debts. He owed for three cars and we didn’t even have one. He had sold them before we married, spent the money but had not paid for the cars. He also had to spend three months in jail in Woodville, Mississippi, from October 10, 1949 until January 1, 1950. He wouldn’t tell me why; just that he was innocent. I wrote the judge a letter and he let him out. It was not until March 1964 that I found out why he was in jail.
He made about $75.00 every two weeks, which was pretty good in 1950. We moved to Pascagoula, Mississippi in the spring of 1950. The Electricians went on a strike the first week we were there. Ed drew his unemployment, $20.00 a week. We paid $8.00 per week for our rented room and shared a kitchen. It was nice, we had no responsibilities so we would go to the beach everyday and cook hotdogs or hamburgers. We started going to church and were baptized June 17, 1950. The strike lasted three months. By that time, International Paper Company, had started an addition to the mill in Natchez and we moved back there, to the Pharsalia Apartments, which were brand new and real nice, two bedrooms, kitchen, living room and bath, no air conditioning in those days. That is when we bought furniture, the old mahogany bedroom suite, sofa, chairs and tables for the living room and a red Formica top, chrome kitchen table and chairs. By this time Ed had let me start handling the money and I had him out of debt by the time you cam, Cynthia. You were the answer to my prayers. Ed was real disappointed that you were a girl. Your grandmas Foster always said she was so glad you were a girl because “Son,” (that’s what all his family called him) didn’t get his way for the first time in his life. You were so pretty and you soon won his heart because you cried after him every time he went to work.
Janice came a year later. I didn’t mind because Maurice was pregnant with Susan and we had the best time together. You and Susan were a week apart. I was going to help Maurice when she came from the hospital and then she was going to help me with Janice. I was not due until the first of August, but you came early so we had to call Mildred to come to our rescue. She was always so good to come stay with me when the first three of you were born. She stayed two weeks the next year when I had Edward. Ed was real good to go to church, he even went to Men’s training class when we lived in Natchez.
The construction ended with I.P. Company so we moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, September 1, 1953. He got a job with a construction company driving a truck, and then in March 1954, he was elected business agent and Secretary and Treasurer for the Teamsters of Local #5. He made $75.00 a week.
Baton Rouge was booming. Houses to rent were scarce. We rented a small two bedroom, kitchen, bath and living room on Ellerslie Drive, behind Memorial Stadium. By this time I was pregnant with Edward.
We were doing better financially. We bought a brand new 1954 Ford. Edward was born July 1, 1954, finally a boy. You were so precious. You had the most beautiful brown eyes and dark brown hair.
Ed began to find excuses not to go to church with us. He had union meetings on Sunday morning, so sometimes he would have them at the house and he would keep Edward while we went.
He organized Louisiana Creamery, Holsum and Sunbean Bakeries, and the Refineries that were being built between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I really think he was honest during this time.
We bought a lot on Prescott Road and in 1956 we built a house. I drew the plans and selected everything in it. Ed was very cooperative. It was just what I wanted, 2,586 square feet and a double carport. We moved in December 15, 1956. By this time we had two cars. The Teamsters had bought our 1954 Ford for Ed and we bought me a 1955 red and white Oldsmobile. I suppose that was the happiest time of my life. I really wanted another baby, now that I had this big, pretty house with two bathrooms. I was thrilled when I had you, Teresa. Especially to have one with blue eyes.
Ed bought a truck stop and restaurant on Airline Highway, in April 1959, called the J and L Truck Stop. He also bought and old house with fifty acres out in the country close to Greensburg, Louisiana. He made a garden and mad repairs on the old house. He wanted us to move in it an sell the one on Prescott. I wouldn’t agree to it. I’m sure glad I didn’t. This is when our problems started. He was gone most of the time. Always Union Business or at the Truck Stop Restaurant. Mildred Kelly was a waitress there. I began to have suspicions of her and Ed having an affair. It would make him mad and deny it when I confronted him about it.
I am so thankful you all don’t remember how abusive he was to me. Cynthia, you probably remember some. I might could have tolerated his “other women,” if he had been good to me, but the only good thing about him was his generosity with is money. He thought money could buy anything. He never cared how much money I spent and he never objected of us going to church. He wouldn’t go with us but he was good to help me get you all dress. I am thankful for that. He was continuously buying me things what I called “a peace offering.” He bought me a 1959 Impala Chevrolet and the transmission went out on it with only 80 miles on it. He wanted to have it fixed but I told him I didn’t want it, that I would keep my Oldsmobile. I later found out he had given it to Mildred Kelly. He also started my silver with a place setting and all the serving pieces. He could never save money. He thought it was made to spend. He lavished you all with toys. Edward you had a gun and that lovely knife by the time you were five years old. I guess it’s a good thing I was conservative and learned how to handle money, because by the time we separated I knew how far a dollar would go.
He seemed to blame me for everything, even the fusses you all would have. He insisted I get a maid so I hired Olivia, remember her? She worked for me until we separated.
It was in January 1960 that I knew he was having the affair with Mildred Kelly. He had to go to Washington, DC on union business. He had driven and called me on his way back to tell me he was snow bound right outside of Atlanta, Georgia and would be home when he could. I knew she was with him but when he came home he denied it. I guess he thought if I had another baby that I wouldn’t leave him, so Keith, you were on the way soon after this.
By the summer of 1960, I knew Ed was doing things that were dishonest. He had to go to Atlanta and while he was gone, C.J. Brown, a Baton Rouge realtor, called and told me that the grass needed cutting at the house we had rented on Sevenoaks Drive. I quickly asked what was the house number and he told me. This was a shock to me, so that night I went over there. Ed came to the door but he turned out all the lights and wouldn’t let me in. The next day he told me that he was hiding dynamite for Jimmy Hoffa in that house. He also told me he was on some kind of drugs. I had called your Aunt Mil to come help me decide what to do. She came and I went home with her to Pine Bluff. Ed called everyday, begging me to come home. I was gone about two weeks, but we did go back. When I got home, I realized there was something wrong with him. He tried to keep it from me, but he finally showed me where he had been stabbed, the lowest part of his stomach, a horizontal cut about six inches long. It was always a mystery as to who did it. It needed stitches but he wouldn’t go to the doctor. He had been stabbed on his shoulder about four or five months before this. He wouldn’t tell me who did it either, but wouldn’t go to the doctor. When he left in January, the cut on his stomach had still not healed. In later years, Mrs. Rankin, one of my lawyers, said he probably was bringing in some kind of drugs in the wound. It sounded horrible to me, but I never knew.
Keith, I didn’t think you would ever get here. All the rest of you had been three or four weeks early, so by November 1, I was ready, but you didn’t get here until November the 17th. I worried about you while I was in the hospital, not knowing if Ed would be home, but I had Olivia and she took real good care of you.
Keith was nine days old when Ed told me he had to go to Havana, Cuba to see Fidel Castro. I didn’t believe him, but he gave me a number at the Havana Cabana Hotel for me to call. I called and talked to him, so he was there. This was another mystery. I never knew why he went. When President Kennedy was assassinated, and Lee Harvey Oswald arrested, I really thought Ed was going to be involved, but I don’t suppose there was any connection. When he got back from Cuba, there was some argument we had every day. Marge and Orlan were so good to me, helping me decide what to do. He advised me for one and a half years to stay with him. He would talk with Ed and Ed making promises not to see Mildred Kelly anymore, but finally said that she was blackmailing him. I tried to believe him, but there was always something disturbing and a mystery.
One nite I was giving Keith a bottle. Ed was asleep. I looked down, there under the bed were his shoes with a lot of money in them. I counted it quickly, I would guess about $20,000. I put it in the drawer and the next a.m. he asked where it was. I asked him where he got it. He said it wasn’t his, that he was to pass it on to someone that was to meet him at the Palms Motel. I never knew.
He had made several trips to Chicago, he said, and then
<That’s where Mamma Jean ended her letter. She never finished her story. She passed away from breast cancer a few years later. – Love, Janice>
Where she left off, she was building up to telling my younger cousins what happened after she put pieces of the puzzle together. She gathered her five children and fled, hiding them in her family’s hunting and fishing camps throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Walter Sheridan, being an FBI agent and head of the Get Hoffa squad, was able to find her, and he and Bobby convinced her to remain silent in exchange for a way to support her children, free from Big Daddy. She chose Houston. It was far enough from Baton Rouge and close enough to her family that she felt safe and normal. Walter remained in contact until his 1995 death, even after Bobby was killed and Walter became an NBC news correspondent, a minor celebrity; I like to assume he respected Mamma Jean, and he wanted to ensure his word to her was upheld.
When I told Craig how Mamma Jean was fooled, I quoted her: the devil can quote scripture, and people make men gods and idolize them, which is what Moses probably meant when he said to not worship other gods. Craig grew up Catholic, and he said that made sense.
I hadn’t read Mamma Jean’s letter in probably ten or fifteen years, but speaking with Craig inspired me to reread old notes and look for things I may have overlooked or not understood when I was younger. And, now that I was in Havana, things like the Havana Cabana Hotel seemed more vivid, more real, than they were even on the airplane.
I didn’t know what I’d be looking for. Like The Patriot Act, I was open to anything that could trigger a plan. Maybe I’d stumble across a big blue eyed man or woman, around sixty years old, who didn’t know who their father was, and I’d start from there. Maybe they would know their father, and we’d have a lot to talk about. It was ambiguous, I know, and that’s what made it interesting to me, a hobby. Auntie Lo said everyone needed a hobby – hers was making cocktails, and she was really good at it – and I had begun imagining myself with a new side gig as a writer with a thing or two to share about funky laws that lingered long after forgotten, yet still influenced our lives in ways most people don’t recognize. The Patriot Act was one of plenty, and I thought I’d focus on it as an example, using my family as ethos for my logos, and Mamma Jean as pathos to link everything into one tapestry, like a rug that brings the room together and helps people relax and see what to do next.
I tucked my phone into the daypack, stood up, stretched, and carried my Lonely Planet by one hand as I strolled through the streets of Havana on my way to Hemmingway’s house.
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