My grandfather was Edward Grady Partin, but everyone called him called him Big Daddy. He was a big man, almost 6-1/2 feet tall and 280 pounds, with blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a perpetual smile. People said he was handsome and charming, even after learning his history.
He was a boxer and dishonorably discharged marine, and he had evaded prison despite many charges for rape, manslaughter, extortion, kidnapping, and racketeering; in some cases, witnesses were found beaten or dead, and jury members were threatened or bribed. He was an adulterer, and had a family separate from my Partin family.
Big Daddy always seemed to get out of jail, and he was allowed to run the Louisiana Teamsters ruthlessly, and for three decades no state law could stop him and what the governor called “his gangster Teamsters” from extorting Louisiana businesses and trafficking drugs and money between New Orleans and Las Vegas. But even the governor said that Big Daddy was charming.
In 1967, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren, lead investigator of the United States “Warren Report” on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, wrote that Big Daddy was “a jailbird, languishing in a Baton Rouge jail cell,” until for an unknown reason the United States General Attorney, Bobby Kennedy, released him. Big Daddy’s charges disappeared, and his previous arrests were modified, and he was shown in national newspapers with a big smile, surrounded by his children, my father and aunts and uncles, and endorsed by the FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. All of America thought he was handsome, charming, and an honorable family man, even though the Honorable Chief Justice Warren wrote almost three pages vilifying my grandfather, saying that the future of America’s justice system depends on understanding how Edward Grady Partin evaded prison, even though he, the leader of America’s judicial system, didn’t know the full story.
In 1973, after five yeas in prison because of Big Daddy’s testimony, Jimmy Hoffa wrote that my grandfather was “a big, rough man who could charm a snake off a rock.” In 2002, my grandmother, Mamma Jean, wrote that she agreed with Hoffa. She was trying to explain to us how she was fooled, and even after all that happened, her mind returned to how handsome and charming he was, and how he seemed to be a good father and family man.
Hoffa had disappeared in 1975, and I never met him to ask him what he meant. And Mamma Jean passed away after having written only three pages into her memoir, so I only have my childhood memories to make sense of what she began to tell us.
We can’t ask Big Daddy, because died in 1990. He didn’t say much in his final years, he just kept smiling as if he knew what no one else could understand. His final words were, “No one will ever know my part in history.”
He may have been right, no one will ever know his part in history. My family has pondered his final words for 30 years, and I have nothing to add to what’s already publicly available.
There’s a lot of information available about Big Daddy, because America has been fascinated with John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa since before President Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963. The Warren Report was completed quickly, and released within 10 months of the president’s murder, but the next report, from the Congressional Committee on Assassinations, wasn’t completed until 1979, but wasn’t made public until 1992, despite the United States Freedom of Information Act. Apparently, each president can review the J.F.K. Assassination report and choose which part to release. In 1992, President Bill Clinton released approximately 60% of the report, and each president since then has release a little bit more.
I read that President Trump released all but 0.6%, so I don’t know what’s in the final bit of J.F.K.’s assassination report, but I believe that what Bill Clinton released was enough for me to understand my Partin history.
I’m Jason Ian Partin. I was born in 1972, but barley knew my grandfather. I remember one meeting when I was a kid, shortly after Hoffa disappeared, and a few times before he passed away, when I was a teenager in Baton Rouge and he knew he was dying. Even then, he just smiled and wouldn’t say anything more than what we already knew.
Edward Grady Partin was a big man with a part in history, but I was just a small part in his story. My part was so small that I’ve already told it. Most of this story is how getting to know my grandfather led to Hillary Clinton breaking my finger.
Jason Ian Partin