Vince Piersante fought organized crime in Detroit and throughout the state of Michigan for decades. He‘s Italian himself, and had plenty of informants in the underworld.
So I find his explanation of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa pretty plausible. According to his informants, he wasn’t supposed to be killed, just warned, and he got mad. Hoffa always had a temper.
Some say he had a heart attack; some say he got shot, but he got dead, in an accident that the low-level goons called an “oops.”
So they rendered him, which in effect meant that he ended up becoming something like Crisco. Not only do I find this story believable, I have to admit, I want it to be true.
For some unknown reason, the human mind loves unsolved mysteries. Almost nobody under 50 has any memories or knows anything about the living Jimmy Hoffa, the tough brawling banty rooster of a man who was once a working-class hero.
Today, we remember him, if at all, as the epitome of a corrupt labor leader who got in bed with the mob, and who got what he deserved. A few remember his epic battles with the Kennedys, especially Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, wars that ended with his enemies dead, and Hoffa himself out of power and in jail.
But there was another Hoffa; the son of a wretchedly poor coal miner. This Hoffa was determined to win a decent lifestyle for members of the oppressed working class. He was an absolutely brilliant tactician and organizer whose greatest achievement was the National Master Freight Agreement that brought truckers into the middle class.
When I was a boy I knew an old trucker named Roy who once drove with Jimmy Hoffa. Roy regarded Hoffa as God, and cheerfully would have taken a bullet for him any day of the week.
The dark side of Hoffa was also very real. But it is worth remembering that the Mafia wanted Hoffa out because his successor as Teamsters boss, Frank Fitzsimmons, was more corrupt and less interested in the welfare of his workers than Hoffa had been.
Today, however, Hoffa is mostly a murder mystery. Maybe they will find him under a horse barn in Milford, though I doubt it. I hope he really was rendered, and that they never prove it. So that our children and our children’s children can look forward every summer to some police agency digging up another forlorn Michigan field.
But in my mind, Jimmy Hoffa is in the Bahamas now, 93 years old, and sipping a Tom Collins as he watches a beautiful Natalee Holloway playing in the surf. Elvis is behind the bar, complaining that Jimmy Dean was revving his engines too loudly last night again. Hoffa smiles, and in his gravelly voice says, “Well, why don’t you get Judge Crater to do something about it?”