My grandfather, Edward Grady Partin Senior, whom everyone in Baton Rouge, Mississippi, and Texas called Big Daddy; was a rapist, killer, lier, cheater, adulterer, drug addict, rapist, dishonorably discharged Marine, thief, crook, embezzler, extortioner, rapist, womanizing, adulterating, big, rough, charming son of a Saint who, according to my grandmother, stopped going to church on Sundays shortly before President Kennedy was shot and killed.
I believe that in 1962, Big Daddy and Jimmy Hoffa plotted to assassinate President Kennedy by finding a way to get Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot and kill President Kennedy. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 p.m. CST on Friday, November 22, 1963. According to the 888 page Warren Report submitted ten months later, Lee Harvey Oswald, a former marine with a long history of mental illness, and a New Orleans native who trained in the Baton Rouge civil air force four miles from my grandmother’s home, acted alone when he shot and killed President Kennedy; but, he was never tried by a jury, because two days after Kennedy died, Oswald was shot and killed on live television by Jack Ruby.
Coincidentally, the last bill that Kennedy had signed into law three weeks before he was shot and killed was the Community Mental Healthcare Act, which he said was intended to help all Americans by making mental healthcare our nation’s priority; in other words, begin the process of educating kids and treating people kindly and with compassion to address unseen and misunderstood mental illness, hopefully helping people be at peace and to reduce things like public shootings.
Jack Ruby was an air force veteran with a long history of mental illness, and who had been a dump truck business manager until Hoffa’s Teamsters absorbed the small Dallas business, and Ruby was known by Dallas police to be a low-level runner for the mafia; yet, somehow, Ruby walked through the Dallas police station with a snub nosed Colt .38 “detective” pistol in his pocket, removed it a few few from Oswald and the officers escorting him, handcuffed, as reporters and television crews surrounded them. Oswald died a few hours later in the same hospital that had pronounced Kennedy dead, and where a 6.5mm rifle bullet had been found on the floor that matched Oswald’s Italian surplus carbine that had been outfitted with a sniper scope by a local gunsmith a few months before, and had been traced to another assassination attempt of a well known army general living in Dallas.
Oswald’s words when he was arrested and read his Miranda Rights were, “I’m a patsy!” Ruby claimed to have acted out of love for Mrs. Kennedy, that he hoped to spare her the pain and suffering of a long trial against Oswald. He was found guilty by jury of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison; he’d change his stories many, many times in prison, and repeatedly said that the government was poisoning him with something that would give him cancer. I once read that among his final words, he said, “No one will ever know my part in history.” He’s probably right, because he died in prison two years after his trial from complications secondary to lung cancer. I once heard that he had been a lifelong smoker.
Bobby Kennedy had my grandfather, president of Baton Rouge Teamsters Local #5, released from prison in order to infiltrate Jimmy Hoffa’s inner circle to find anything that would send Bobby’s publicly known “arch enemy” to prison; the details of that process are told relatively well in 1983’s film, Blood Feud, with Brian Dennehy portraying Edward Grady Partin and Robert Blake winning an academy award for portraying Hoffa and “channeling his rage.”
The 1979 Congressional Committee on Assassinations JFK Assassination Report remained classified until President Bill Clinton released a part of it in 1992; the committee reversed the Warren Report and said that Kennedy was likely killed as part of a larger conspiracy, and that the top three suspects who had the means, motivation, and method to kill Kennedy were Jimmy Hoffa, New Orleans mafia boss Carlos Marcello, and Cuban exile and Miami mafia boss Santos Traficante Jr. Hoffa had famously vanished in 1975 and was unavailable during the investigation, but Big Daddy was still alive and running Local #5, and one of the main reasons Hoffa was suspected was the 1962 FBI reports on him and Big Daddy; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had overseen the investigation and Big Daddy’s lie detector tests, and, of course, U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and the head of the FBI’s “Get Hoffa” squad, Walter Sheradin, all vouched for Big Daddy.
My grandfather went to prison in 1980 for a wide range of crimes, but was released early for declining health and died on March 16th, 1990, two years before Clinton released the first part of the JFK Assassination Report, which is where I learned of the 1962 FBI report, so I never was able to ask Big Daddy what he thought about that. His final words, though, stuck in my mind: “No one will ever know my part in history.”
I stopped visiting my grandfather for a few years while my father, Edward Grady Partin Junior, was in an Arkansas federal prison for drug dealing. He was caught with just at two pounds of shitty shake partially covered in rat turds that a team of deputized locals found in his barn on his fifteen acre plot of land deep in theOzarks. The deputies had been partially funded by money that was no longer going to Kennedy’s Community Mental Healthcare Act, and my dad, who suffered from PTSD, bipolarism, and possibly schizophrenia, was tossed in prison for what’s now legal in 26 states and is acknowledged as a viable treatment for PTSD, stress, and anxiety, ironically. He’s never been the same since. He got out of prison and earned his GED, a college degree in political science, and a law degree, and he’s now a public defender in Baton Rouge.
My grandfather and his brother, Teamster leader Douglas Westley Partin, told a lot of stories; not all were true. Walter Sheridan told us that could be because Big Daddy had schizophrenia, a mental illness not unlike what was portrayed by Russel Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind,” the film about Kensey Nash, the Nobel laureate and math genius who suffered from schizophrenia, and imagined he spoke to people and that the government was communicating to him through magazines and television. Nash believed that he was a part in a large and secretive conspiracy. Walter Sheridan said Big Daddy was similar, and that we should call Walter if my grandfather said anything in his delirious state. After his funeral, I was only 17, but I recall Walter telling me that schizophrenia was hereditary, and I should call him if I remembered anything else my grandfather said, or if I imagine I’m being followed. I know it’s crazy to believe an FBI agent diagnosing mental illness instead of an unbiased physician, and the humor isn’t lost on me.
But, I don’t know anything for sure. Even the 1962 report could have been forged many years later, easily added to a pile of paper memos in the burgeoning Congressional JFK Assassination Report. And my grandfather never said anything to me, or to anyone I know who had shared what they know with me, that would imply that I have inside knowledge. I simply read and reread all the words and wrote notes in books every year or so for a while, sometimes going several years without even thinking of Big Daddy or Hoffa; though I always used silver Kennedy half dollars that my dad had given me for magic, so perhaps the story’s been in my subconscious the entire time.
\Whether Lee did it or not is irrelevant. Obviously, to me, Kennedy was shot by multiple shooters in an orchestrated event, and members of the CIA and FBI were involved or at least aware, as were several mafia leaders and Teamsters; all were frequently in and around my grandmother’s home when I was growing up, and our family were Teamster leaders targeted by the mafia and ostensibly protected by the FBI; our family was targeted, not Big Daddy, because Hoffa needed him alive to recant his testimony and free the Teamster president from prison. Big Daddy never recanted, and Hoffa was finally pardoned by President Nixon after Hoffa had, from prison, funded and endorsed Richard Nixon’s campaign, and 2.7 Million Teamsters influenced democracy; we all know how that turned out. And, it’s interesting to note that several books point to mafia guys thinking the same thing: Dallas was a good spot because of overt political opinions and a tolerance for murder, like the murders of Malcom X and Martin Luther King and more, presumably because they spoke out on Vietnam, too, and because so many people are intemperate ignorant racists with a gun. In a way, it was bound to happen, and anyone looking at today’s political climate can imagine what it was like back then, when autonomy was easier and a lot of veterans were walking around with PTSD and an axe to grind against perceived threats to their freedom. Bigotry, ignorance, mental illness, isplaced ideology, public apathy, busy workers and moms and dads too busy to do anything, and a host of other maladies still common today are what killed Kennedy. As Martin Luther King said, all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing; but, he never told us what to do about it in a way that was practical and obtainable and universally acceptable.
Empathy takes work, and loving something, anything, with all your heart means just that – as best you can, and that’s usually enough to make a difference in at least someone’s life for the better. Mrs. Abrams taught me that.
My mother, Wendy Anne Rothdram Partin, had fled the family when I was a baby, and for the rest of her life she would joke that schizophrenia was contagious, not just hereditary, and that marrying a Partin had WARP’ed her mind. I doubt that’s true, but I know she loved me the best she could, and that I love her very much even though she’s no longer with us, that I know of. I withheld sharing what I knew about the Kennedy assassination for thirty years because my family custody court records are easily found online for reasons I don’t understand, and my mother was always ashamed of being an uneducated single teenage mother who had made a poor choice at age 16 and married Edward Grady Partin Junior. This book, if published, will be dedicated to my mother; may she Rest in Peace.
I could have been a better son; but, as my grandmother said, we’re all flawed people, doing the best we can. I don’t believe that the past can be changed, but the future is whatever we want it to be, within reason.
I’d like world peace, but I don’t know where to begin. If I had to suggest a few things, it would be revisiting Kennedy’s 1963 Community Mental Healthcare Act and understanding what happened to the intention, the funding, and the public awareness of it’s intention and funding. And, I’d suggest each state voting to change archaic voting processes that create bipolar goverment, going right one year and left the other, and allow a middle ground; perhaps using the ranked choice system like how competing football and basketball teams peacefully choose an MVP, not unlike what Maine and Washington have been attempting recently. Finally, with the right people in office, perhaps they could continuously improve our government’s systems and processes; what that would look like would be similar to a public healthcare company that has a transparent quality assurance system and is less vulnerable to changes in the CEO and less influenced by executives in the company. Their job is to manage finances towards clear goals and continuously improve their quality system to be linked processes of continuous improvement centered around reducing risk to patients; in other words, money spent in R&D should overlap with processes in manufacturing, and those are linked to improvements in supply and distribution, etc. so that a company isn’t spending money uselessly in one or more areas. For a government, that would be like linking education, healthcare, prison, and military funding to clearly identified and defined democratic goals, and the result of all of our spending would be checked for efficacy, just like products in a medical company are checked for design intent and all aspects of design, engineering, sales, and distribution are parts in that process. I can’t imagine world peace without tackling several challenges at once, and all solutions involve people and are therefore linked to mental health of approximately 360 Million Americans, 2.7 million of whom are in jail, a higher percentage than anywhere else on Earth, and those in jail are overwhelmingly shown to have mental illness and relatively poor learning skills.
No matter what we do, I hope it’s for posterity’s sake, and that if we aren’t helping all of society move forward peacefully, then the least we could do is practice our Miranda Rights and try not to harm anyone or get in anyone’s way. In the end, we all die, and we all have mothers. Whatever your version of The Truth is, I love you, and wish you happiness.