Mama Jean

“We can report that Edward G. Partin has been under investigation by the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office in connection with the Kennedy Assassination investigation… based on an exclusive interview with an Assistant District Attorney in Jim Garrison’s office. We can report that Partin’s activities have been under scrutiny. In his words: “We know that Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald were here in New Orleans several times… there was a third man driving them and we are checking the possibility it was Partin.

WJBO radio, New Orleans, June 23rd, 1964; quoted from Walter Sheridan, “The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa,” 1972

I straddled my backpack on both shoulders and limped across the Plaza San Francisco de Asis towards a small bar and grill. It had double doors wide open so that live music flowed out of the bar and across the plaza, and the open doors attracted my attention more than the other venues circling the square plaza. I’ve been slightly claustrophobic since 1983, and after a long flight I always feel cooped up. Double wide doors opening to an outdoor plaza seemed like an acceptable compromise between being outdoors and wanting food and a drink; and it had a standup bar.

Sitting is one of the worst thing anyone can do for their body, leading to almost four times the rate of diabetes, low back pain, and unhealthy weight gan: at least five randomized, double blinded clinical trials following a total of 850,000 people over fifteen years say so. I had reviewed the statistics and assumptions of those studies, and the meta analysis between them, and the data’s unequivocal. I walked into a bar so that I wouldn’t become a statistic.

Sitting with a right angle bend at your hips increases lumbar disc pressure 120% due to muscles yanking on your spinous process to maintain static equilibrium, so every minute sitting is, to your spinal discs, an unrelenting pressure that squeezes out lubrication, cushioning, and nutrients. Leaning back 20% degrees reduces the pressures to around 100%, reducing the expulsion of fluids but restricting influx. In normal activity, walking and moving, your discs pump and nutrients and toxins exchange via mechanical osmosis; there are no arteries and veins to compensate for lack of motion, and not moving lets toxins settle in deeply. Sitting also puts pressure against the back of your thighs and restricts blood flow, so toxins accumulate in your legs and you have less oxygen reaching your brain and your mental processing sluggish. It takes many years, but the damage isn’t recoverable; and, because of comfort with habits and decreased mental alertness, few people notice how much better they’d feel moving a few times an hour; of the 850,000 people who had sitting jobs, the ones who got up and moved for around five minutes every twenty minutes or so escaped long-term damage. Statistically, truck drivers and office workers who don’t move or use a standing desk are at the most risk; nurses aides are, too, but for different reasons; they lean forward over gurnies to move patients or change sheets, and the biomechanics of lifting weight far from your spinal fulcrum leads to forces high enough to herniate discs again and again, depleting the nucleus and leading to long-term back pain.

I chose to stand whenever I can, from my personal experience in a brief stent as an office engineer in 1999, and by remembering Big Daddy. He was released from prison five years early for declining health due to diabetes and an undisclosed heart condition. He had never sat around all day until he went to federal prison in 1980, and when I saw him in 1986 he was a deflated ballon of his former glory, soft and wrinkly, with just a hint of loft left. Before sitting in prison, Big Daddy was always moving: helping his mother, Grandma Foster, around the house, fishing for largemouth bass in False River, hunting elk around Boulder and Flagstaff, boxing, beating people, tossing safes and bodies into rivers, and fending off small teams of low-level mob hitmen foolish enough to try their luck with nothing but a few knives and measly .38 specials. Sitting killed him when ten years of mafia hits could not. He died on March 11th, 1990, at age 66, from diseases secondary to sitting in prison for six years, and another three years of sitting around Grandma’s, barely lifting a finger to help out around the house, just sitting around all day, telling stories to anyone willing to sit and listen.

I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, straightened my posture, and walked into the bar. Happy hour was just beginning, and small bands were beginning to play to entice people inside after work. I walked past the band and stood at the bar a few feet from the young trumpet player farthest from the doors, and rested a foot on the brass rail below the bar.

I glanced around. Only about half the people were focused on the band, but even those chatting or laughing moved their bodies to the beat. Good music is a collaborative experience, and the vibe was right. It was the perfect time for me to start happy hour, before the crowds arrived after work, and I could read at the bar. But, I was still wound up form the flight and worried about Wendy; drastic measures would be necessary, and I wanted a drink.

I straightened myself again and kept an eye up for the young light skinned bartender to notice. He saw me and began walking over. He had a wide smile and was wearing a casual Cuban styled button up short sleeve shirt, and sported a haircut that required a bit of extra effort every day before work and probably spoke softly to his female clientele. He was calm and confident, and leaned forward and said something I didn’t understand because of the band, but I assumed and shouted that I’d like a Hemingway daquiri and whatever seafood tapas were on special. I rotated my head to listen to what he said, but I couldn’t make out the words. I smiled enthusiastically at whatever he said, and gave a “thumbs up.” He smiled back, patted the counter to say he understood, and went to work.

He brought out the daquiri a few minutes later, but the food from the kitchen took about a song and a half longer. I sipped the drink on an empty stomach while I waited, and the placebo effect loosed my mind before the alcohol seeped into my brain. I finally began to unwind when it hit. I sighed a good type of sigh, not intentional, like when I decided to walk in, but the type of sigh that begins as a feeling of contentment and builds inside you and spills out through your lips as a sigh. The music sounded brighter, my thoughts had subsided, and my body joined the party. I was finally contributing to the room’s energy, in my own way.

I moved to the beat while inspecting what the bartender had delivered. The daily special was “calamar a la parilla,” grilled squid, cooked longer than ideal and toughened. I wasn’t complaining, I just liked nuances of seafood and was trying to enjoy myself. My eyes lit up, though, when I dipped a slice of squid in the side of mojo sauce, the first time I had ever had it. It was packed with roasted garlic and a tang from what was probably freshly squeezed orange juice, with just enough chili pepper heat to, as Chef Paul Prudhome of Commander’s Palace fame said, “wake up the taste buds and let them sense everything.” (Or something like that: it had been a ling time since I read his Louisiana Kitchen.)

I sliced the next bite of squid thinly and spread the creamy mojo on thickly to add some squish and compensate for tough calamar. I savored the next bite; the creamy mojo balanced the chewy better than I could have planned. I sighed again, a pleasant, content, relaxing sigh that rippled through my body and spoke more eloquently than the worry and discomfort. For a blissful moment, all I could hear was that mojo sauce and the rhythm of a six man band.

The Hemingway daquiri was strong and good and I ordered another. It came in an angled glass, like a martini glass, with a meniscus bulging higher than the edges. I sipped a bit so it wouldn’t spill, and ostensibly danced to the band’s groove; I was actually stretching, loosening tight hip flexors from sitting all day, and moving my neck and shoulders that had been forced into too small of seats since morning. After a few more sips, stretching became grooving.

Cuban Funk seems to be made to move. The Lonely Planet said to look out for it in people’s daily lives; the driver who dropped me off at the plaza tapped his fingers on his steering wheel as we cruised into town. with Buena Vista Social Club blaring on his upgraded Bluetooth stereo. All around town, I saw people tapping their fingers to the beat of whatever music was nearby. People in the bar did the same, while simultaneously chatting with each other.

I had heard of the Buena Vista Social Club in America, if only because of the film, but there was more music worth discovering. I was anxious to listen to bands I hadn’t heard yet. I had a few ideas to prime the pump, because I’ve seen Cuba’s Cima Funk play with New Orleans’s Dumpstaphunk – with a ph – at Tipatinas, an old fruit stand turned hip music venue near the river’s Irish Chanel. Cima Funk opened with a few local musicians for Trombone Shorty, two of the Neville brothers, and a few members of Galactic, who had just purchased Tipatinas and was having a party to celebrate. Everyone there was enthusiastic about the Afro-Cuban music scene, which is like the Pope saying he digs another preacher’s sermon. A seed was planted in my mind at a late night show after a couple of local beers, and a week later I saw a few other Cuban and Carribbean bands two hours away, at Lafayette’s Festival International, and the seed sprouted. At the end of that trip, I saw a news blurb about the Obama entrepreneurship loophole and the sprout skyrocketed. I requested a visa and was approved. Almost immediately after, I remembered a letter from my grandmother that implied Big Daddy had been in Havana just before Kennedy’s assassination. A year later, I was sipping a Hemmingway daiquiri in Havana, as if it were meant to be; Cristi called it synchronicity.

My grandmother was Mamma Jean, known to a few as Norma Jean Partin, though her name was kept out of most records for her safety; she’s the one Chief Justice Earl Warren mentioned when he said Big Daddy had “devious and secret support payments to his wife.” In exchange for her silence, Bobby Kennedy and Walter Sheridan bought her a house in Houston big enough for her and her five children – my father, Uncle Keith, and Aunt’s Janice, Cynthia, and Theresa – and paid her a monthly living allowance as long as she remained silent about Big Daddy’s history. After he died in 1990 and Walter Sheridan died in 1995, she began telling us a bit here and there, and in 1996 tried to write it all down for us to understand. She died from her second bout with breast cancer soon after, and I wouldn’t have thought about the letter if it hadn’t been for Big Daddy being portrayed in an upcoming film about Hoffa.

After I learned I could visit Cuba, I learned that Martin Scorcese had raised $257,000 to make another epic gangster film, this one centered around Jimmy Hoffa, his ties to the mob, and former WWII infantryman, Teamster boss, and mafia hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheenan’s claim to have killed Hoffa on 30 July 1975. Scorcese recruited America’s most famous actors, men known to have played gangsters so many times that people paid to see them do it again, men like Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and a gaggle of Godfather’s and Goodfellas. Craig Vincent, the burly actor and veteran of other small roles for big men in Scorcese films, would portray Big Daddy in a role trimmed down from the book and modified to fit the film, but Craig took his role seriously and researched his role by calling Uncle Keith, who was the current president of Teamsters Local #5 in Baton Rouge and listed on the International Brotherhood of Teamster’s web page directory, and Aunt Janice, who was the contact for an genealogy website tracing the Partins. At first, he was trying to mimic Big Daddy’s accent – all Hoffa books mention Big Daddy’s charming southern drawl – and mannerisms he could mimic.

They steered him to some Youtube news clips of Big Daddy talking and the 1983 film, Blood Feud. Brian Dennehy did a decent job with Big Daddy, and Robert Blake won an Emmy for “channeling Hoffa’s rage,” and some daytime soap opera heartthrob portrayed Bobby Kennedy well. Back then, America remembered the people so well that producers had to hire actors who closely resembled the men; 30 years later, Scorcese wasn’t limited by that, and blatantly said he was selling tickets for entertainment, not historical accuracy. Craig couldn’t shake his New Jersey Italian accent, and Scorcese was tweaking his role to be “Big Eddie” Partin, the Italian guy who sent Hoffa to prison.

But, Craig was seeking more than just an accent, and when we spoke he asked a question that no FBI agent or investigative reporter ever had: what were the traits and characteristics of Edward Grady Partin that led him to fooling the world’s most powerful men, men like Hoffa and Kennedy, and America’s most legendary investigators, like FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and head of the Get Hoffa Force, Walter Sheridan? When we spoke, Craig admitted that he had Hairy Cell Leukemia – it’s as horrible as it sounds – and this could be his final role, so he wanted to do it well. He mentioned it was a way to honor his mother, and I related to that and spoke freely about Mamma Jean, about how Big Daddy fooled her, too, and how, in 1996, I had asked her the same question he asked me. I couldn’t tell Craig the exact mannerisms – other than to repeat what every book says, that he was big and handsome, rugged and charming – but I told him what Mamma Jean had told me. She summarized everything by confidently quoting the bible, “even the devil can quote scripture,” and, less confidently, wiggling around the commandment about not worshipping false gods. Craig grew up Catholic, and that seemed to satisfy him.

(His role would be edited down to only a few minutes to fit Scorcese’s already lengthy 209 minute film; it was released to theaters six months after I returned from Cuba, in November 2019, and Covid-19 sent it straight to Netflix streaming, where it set viewing records. Scorcesse gave Craig the extra footage for his portfolio, still not knowing about the Hairy Cell Leukimia. Craig did a fine job.)

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>

I had looked up the Havana Cabana, but the only one I found was in Miami. I didn’t find any blogs or posts about an older version in Havana, and I read Havana Nocturnal, a book about meetings between American mafia heads held in Havana, yet still didn’t find anything. Mamma Jean had called the hotel in Cuba, and I doubted she’d make a mistake by calling Miami, or that the FBI had routing technology that would fool her in 1962. I thought I’d walk around and chat with people who would remember Havana in the 1950’s, people around my grandfather’s age. Maybe someone would remember Big Daddy; he was remarkable, easily remembered, hard to forget, and practically impossible to fake. (Lee Harvey Oswald, on the other hand, was so non-remarkable in appearance that most sitings of him were mistaken or faked; in several incidences, witnesses changed back and forth in their conviction based on subtle differences in photos, and most people agree that he was not in Havana just before Kennedy’s assassination, despite original CIA and FBI claims that he was.)

And, I’d keep an eye out for people my parents age with blue eyes; wherever he went, Big Daddy was charming and prolific, and many of my cousins don’t know who he was or that we’re related. Mamma Jean implied that in her letter, but I grew up in Baton Rouge while she was in Houston, and I had no doubt that I was related to many people she didn’t know; in high school, I didn’t date a young lady until after meeting her parents and confirming that she wasn’t unknowingly a Partin.

The reason Mamma Jean began finding out about Big Daddy’s history in 1964 was that he had just testified against Jimmy Hoffa, and Hoffa’s legal team sought to discredit him and therefore his testimony; that’s how Chief Justice Earl Warren had a list of his crimes, despite Bobby Kennedy and Walter Sheridan hiding them. To combat the truth, Walter’s team investigated deeper, and found almost the same results. Big Daddy’s history up until his 1962 arrest for kidnapping was broadcast nationally, and written in stone for posterity in Walter’s 1972 opus and Hoffa’s 1975 autobiography.

Walter said:

“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.


“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.”

Hoffa said:

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 small children from the friend’s wife, who had legal custody of the children.”

Both Walter and Hoffa were close. Mamma Jean wasn’t quiet: she was around Walter, but he had never heard her expound on how to fry catfish or how so many people quote the bible incorrectly, nor had he been with her when dinner was interrupted by black suit and tie wearing Jejova Witnesses knocked on the door; Mamma Jean would invite them inside, offer them food, and lecture to them about the bible and write-and-wrong until they found excuses to leave. When Walter pried for details about Big Daddy, she’d quote Jesus from Matthew and Luke, that anything other than “yes” or “no” were words that came from the devil; it’s no wonder he thought she was quiet. She kept her word to him and Bobby, and wouldn’t begin telling us about Big Daddy until after Walter passed in 1995, three years after the 1976 congressional JFK Assassination Report was first released and anyone who once knew Hoffa or the mafia families were making money with book and movie deals. She was never interested in fame or money, but she wanted us to know how she was fooled so that we wouldn’t be. After 30 years, and practically everyone involved dying, she felt it was time to tell us.

But, even after all that time, she couldn’t tell us exactly how she was fooled, which is why all I could tell Craig was that the devil can quote scripture, and that Mamma Jean struggled to interpret the ten commandments for her own use, but that there was something to worshipping false gods that Moses may have been implying worshiping anyone like she and most people seemed to worship Big Daddy.

The band began playing again, and I put away my phone and waited for the bartender with the primped hair to get eye contact. He walked over and smiled as if we were old friends and said something I didn’t understand, despite rotating each ear towards him. I smiled back at my old friend and ordered mojito made with whichever Cuban rum he’d recommend (they had a few bottles of other country’s rums I could get in the U.S.), ceviche from the standard menu, and a side of the mojo sauce with chips. He tapped the bar top and pivoted around like a ballerina and went to work; but, I was right about his hair, and he stopped long enough to chat with two lovely young ladies who had just arrived for happy hour and sat in barstools next to me and were more interested in him than the band.

The drink and food were delightful, and the music was everything I had hoped for. The ladies weren’t interested in an old gringo, and they chatted and laughed between themselves while the band played, and flirted whenever the bartender checked on us. Soon, the room began to fill and they joined friends at a table and the evening was transitioning to groups of friends rather than people just getting off work. The next time the band took a break, I was packed and ready to go.

“La cuenta, por favor,” I said when the bartenedet approached. He patted the counter, swung around, and returned a moment later with a bill and slid it across the bar to beside my empty glass. We chatted with the now quiet room, and he asked how I spoke Spanish so well. I chuckled to imply I was flattered or that it wasn’t a big deal, and said I lived in San Diego, on the border of Tijuana, and I couldn’t help but learn Spanish, “como la o’smosis.” He chuckled back at that, which told me I probably pronounced it correctly. I have a hard time with most accents and never quite lost my southern murmur, and my hearing is just off enough that I have to practice mouthing new words and getting feedback on how I did. I told him I didn’t hear well, which is why I rotated my head to listen when the band was playing, and he accommodated me by slowing down and focusing on articulating what he said.

One of the few firm rules Big Daddy followed was never drinking, because it loosens your tongue; I must have drank too much, because the bartender and I chatted a long time, which was remarkable for a bartender in a busy bar. He hadn’t heard of the Havana Cabana, and he knew the young ladies were flirting, but he was a patient young man. The band began playing again, too loud for me to understand him. I paid in U.S. Dollars and said, with eye contact and a nod of my head that could be heard over the band without needing words: No necicitto cambio. He picked up the cash and smiled genuinely and waved as he loudly and clearly said “Gracias! Buen viaje!” I put on my backpack and turned towards the door and began walking out. I dropped $5 bill folded in half into the band’s tip jar shaped like a spittoon, smiled, and clasped my hands and bowed a thank you to them without interrupting. At least, I hope it was a tip jar and not the band’s spittoon. I think it was a tip jar, because the trumpet who had played next to me locked eyes and nodded with his horn without missing a note.

I walked out the double doors, paused, and breathed in deeply. I caught a whiff of sea breeze, then sighed and smiled. I limped to my downtown casa particular, trying not to let my gimpy gait be noticeable, and realizing how tired I must be to not even walk straight. Anyone watching probably assumed it was the daiquiris, and they might have been right.

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