“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, a bit of history may help. The story continues in the next chapter, after this backstory.

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. Wendy wouldn’t commit suicide, but she would die from liver failure secondary to alcohol abuse soon after I arrived home from Cuba. I wrote her obituary, and it’s on the Baton Rouge Advocate’s web page and a few other sites, bookended by advertisements.

Wendy Partin Obituary

Send Flowers with ________

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 listed under the USPTO 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, etc. I’m not on social media, except for what used to be primarily a professional network, Linkedin, where by 2019 I was listed as a consultant for medical device development and quality assurance, and as faculty of engineering at the University of San Diego; and, as side gigs atypical of most engineers, I was a rock climbing guide working with Front Range Guides, a magican who occassionally performed at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle, a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids in the foster system, and a volunteer with a handful of organizations focused on equitable education and my passion, entrepreneurship and the freedom it allows. If you scrolled down my Linkedin profile, you may see a brief blurb that I served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, America’s Guard of Honor, on the quick reaction force of Presidents Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton, and that I briefly hed a diplomatic passport as a peacekeeper in the Middle East, serving as a communication laison in the Multinational Force and Observers that had been created by President Carter in 1979, coincidentally just as the congressional JFK Assassination Report was first shown to a president and kept hidden from public for reasons I don’t understand. The MFO base a temporary solution from 1979, is still in the Sinai peninsula buffering Egypt and Israel, if that helps explain my interest in obscure military bases on foreign soil, like Guantanamo in 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 of my 1976 court records.

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 government spent untold millions of dollars prosecuting Hoffa in what media dubbed “The Blood Feud” because of the intense public rage between Bobby and Hoffa, with Hoffa calling Bobby “Booby” and “snot nosed little brat” at every press conferesnce, and more than one publicised physical encourter between the two famous men that, to me and in hindsight, seems more like two schoolyard kids too immature to control emotions and taunting each other with threats to fight after school than the U.S. Attorney General and president of America’s largest labor union. 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. We 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.

When Bobby was shot and killed in 1968, 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 for refusing bribes from New Orleans mafia boss Carlos Marcello to recant his testimony and free Hoffa. Life focused on the mafia’s influence on American politics and culture by highlighting Carlos Marcello trying to bribe Big Daddy to free Hoffa, and had first offered a million dollars and then two million dollars. Pundits denied it, saying the mafia doesn’t bribe people. But, like with all written words, it’s useful to look at the situation 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. In the late 1950’s, those facts were known by newly appointed FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and then senator John F. Kennedy, who was chairmen of the congressional committe on labor reform, and why when Kennedy became president in 1961 he appointed his little brother, Bobby Kennedy, as U.S. Attorney General and instructed him to focus on only two things: get rid of Hoffa and stop organized crime. The FBI didn’t know how much the mafia owed Hoffa, but decades later you could extract from a handful of books that when Hoffa was in prison the mafia owned him about $121 Million, which was a lot of money back then. And the pundits hadn’t researched Hoffa’s conviction enough to know that it rested soley on Big Daddy’s testimony, an unrecorded sentence allegedly uttered by Hoffa asking Big Daddy to bribe a juror in a small labor union trial orchestrated by Bobby and Walter. To be free, Hoffa needed Big Daddy to either recant his testimony by admittting perjury, a federal offense that had landed Hoffa in prison, or by signing an affadavit swearing that Walter’s team used illegal wiretapping to monitor Hoffa leading up to his trial. If Big Daddy died, Hoffa would remain in prision for his eleven year sentence. The $121 Million was unaccounted for and not really Hoffa’s money, so it makes sense that he’d forego all mafia debt if someone, anyone, could intimidate Big Daddy or threaten his family or do whatever was necessary for Hoffa to get out of prison. Bobby assigned Walter Sheridan, a respected FBI agent who had taken time off to help John Kennedy with his successful presidential campaign, as head of the FBI’s Get Hoffa Squad, and after Bobby’s assassination Walter became a respected national news correspondent for NBC and kept tabs on Hoffa and Big Daddy weekly. His opus, The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa, was being rushed to press in 1972 just as President Nixon was pardoning Hoffa and I was, coincidentally, being born.

But, even Walter missed a lot about the mafia, because the mafia was still just a speculation back then. I’ve read a lot about that time, and I still wonder if the famous scene of a severed horse head as a threat from the mafia in 1972’s The Godfather was a veiled threat to Hoffa, or at least to the people who knew the Teamsters and mafia’s working relationship and that the Teamster logo is two horse heads over a steering wheel; an unsubtle message in a Hollywood film telling everyone who was driving the ship. If the 1979 JFK Assassination Report were closer to the truth than the Warren Report, and the mafia and Hoffa were suspects in President Kennedy’s murder, it makes sense that the mafia wouldn’t want Hoffa to talk too much while in prison; that was the story behind the 2019 film The Irishman.

While The Godfather was being filmed, when Hoffa spread word to the mafia families that he’d forget $121 Million of their debt, Hoffa also asked presidential candidate Richard Nixon to help. Nixon had famously lost the election to Kennedy in the world’s first televised presidential debate, and he needed the support of a wider base to win in 1971. From prison, Hoffa clandestinely offered Nixon millions of dollars in campaign money from the Teamster pension fund and promised his endorsement and therefore the probably support of almost three million voting Teamsters, which would be a significant moment in history as the first time a major labor union would endorse a republican, if Nixon could get Big Daddy to either recant his testimony or sign an affadavit about wire tapping that would dismiss the trial that had imprisoned Hoffa six years before. Nixon sent Audie Murphy to Baton Rouge with a promise of a presidential pardon for perjury if Partin recanted his testimony that Hoffa had asked him to bribe a jurer in 1964. Audie was America’s most decorated war hero and a celebrated star of about 40 Hollywood films, adored by practically everyone in America, and he spent the time around my conception flying to and from Baton Rouge, negotiating with Big Daddy. Audie had just declared bankruptcy, and reporters speculated he was negotiating business deals or another film, especially because Big Daddy had been bringing Hollywood films to Baton Rouge since the late 1950’s, like John Wayne’s civil war epic “The Horse Soldiers” that used the backdrop of local plantations lined with ancient looking, moss draped stately oak trees. Like Hoffa’s deals with Hollywood, Big Daddy had ensured that all trucks shipping filming equipment and trailers housing actors were staffed by Teamters who were paid well for up to a year of filming; that’s how using the pension fund to finance films and building casinos worked on behalf of the Teamsters.

Audie and four others had died in small, private airplane crash a week after meeting Big Daddy for the last time. Big Daddy was the primary suspect, and only a few of my family doubts he could have, and would have, orchestrated the deaths of a plane full of people, though years later I’d learn that extensive investigations show that Audie’s plane crashed in Virgina on May 28th, 1971, because of pilot error, not malicious intent. But, no one knew that then, and no one in my family doubts that Big Daddy appreciated the publicity and implication to mafia hitmen that he was capable of killing Audie Murphy, who had killed 278 Germans, one at a time over many years, and was respected by practically everyone who used a gun for their profession. Unlike people in The Godfather who were given offers they couldn’t refuse, Big Daddy refused Richard Nixon and Carlos Marcello. 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.

In 1966, 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 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, touh, 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. Big Daddy stole $450,000 in unregulated pension fund from the Local #5 safe. 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.

What I would learn and not even Chief Justice Earl Warren would know, is that a part of J. Edgar Hoover’s file on Big Daddy had been hidden and would remain hidden until 1992. Everyone knew that 1962 FBI surveillance showed Big Daddy and Hoffa plotting to kill Bobby Kennedy using plastic explosives, probably obtained from Carlos Marcello in New Orleans or through his connections with Castro. Hoover himself endorsed Big Daddy in Life magazine’s 1964 profile, showing him hooked to futuristic looking FBI lie detector machines and surrounded by scientists holding clip boards and wearing white lab coats; it was soon after President Kennedy’s assassination, and the same issue of Life shocased the new Johnson presidential family and the Partin family. Hoffa had just been convicted of jury tampering and his team of lawyers were trying to discredit Big Daddy, and Bobby Kennedy fascilitated national coverage of my family and began the story of Big Daddy being an all-American hero for risking his safety to stop labor union corruption and, possibly, save Bobby Kennedy’s life. But that was only half of the report.

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. 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.”

Even without 1992’s information, 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. To make things worse, my dad was, and is, by most people’s definition not a gentle husband or attentive father. He had left us and rode motorcycles with a few friends to Miami, home of Traficante, where they took a boat to Kingston to buy a lot of drugs to take back to Baton Rouge and sell. She fled and left me at a daycare center, like Mamma Jean had fled Big Daddy and her mother had fled her father, but caught her breath and returned on her own a few weeks later. But, soon after she left, my dad had returned and was arrested for possession of opiods with intent to distribute but not convicted, probaly because he was Edward Grady Partin Junior, and when I was at the daycare center, thier young manager gave me to the first person who said they knew me, the custodian of Glen Oaks High, Ed White. Judge Pugh granted him as my guardian and granted him the ability him to dictate when and if Wendy and my dad saw me; unexplainably, he allowed my dad to legal custody on paper, maybe because he was Edward Grady Partin Junior. Judge Pugh died in 1975, and Judge Lottingger assumed his role. 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, brief summaries of a beginning and an end that bypassed a lot of details in between. Here’s what he had to say:

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 those other 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, and I relied on research and a few family ancedotes to put together this history of my mom and dad from 1962 to 1976.

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.

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. 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.

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. According to their 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. 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. We were more like friends or siblings with a shared past that few other people would understand, because we were the only ones who could reminess about the Partin family. Who else would believe us? That’s when 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.

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.


Go to The Table of Contents