Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Free Man

Sixty-two years ago, Jimmy Hoffa, head of the Teamsters Union, walked out of prison a free man. 

He had vegetated in the Big House for almost five years of his eight-year sentence for bribery and fraud. 

So who released him? 

Tricky Dick, i.e. President Nixon signed him out. 


No one knows. Could it have been in return for that huge chunk of cash the Teamsters gave Nixon to help him run for president again?


  I Watched My Dad Beat the Teamsters
             A Daughter's Memoir
              by Marilyn June Coffey

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

It’s Vegtable

"You're wrong," cried Roger Furse, my grade-school classmate. He shook his spelling test.

"What's wrong?" Our teacher plucked his paper and read it. "No, Roger, you're wrong. That's not how you spell 'vegetable.' It has two 'e's,' not just one."

When Roger insisted he was right, the teacher went to the board, picked a piece of chalk from the tray, and wrote in large letters: vegetable. "That's how you spell vegetable, Roger."

"No you don't!" Roger pounded his desk. "I know how to spell vegetable and it's v-e-g-t-a-b-l-e. Just the way it sounds. Veg - table."

The two argued for a few more rounds, but Roger refused to back down.

"Here." The teacher picked up a dictionary. "Look it up. The dictionary knows how to spell words correctly." 

Roger looked, but when he found the word, he declared, "The dictionary's wrong."

The dictionary wrong? I could scarcely believe my ears. But Roger never backed down. He left grade school believing, against knowledge-based evidence, that vegetable is spelled the way it sounds to him. 

Roger's method of "reasoning" reminds me of the "reasoning" used by people who don't believe in climate change. So the temperature at the North Pole is—again—fifty degrees warmer than normal, approaching the melting point. "So what!" the disbelievers cry. "That doesn't mean it's caused by humans."

I prefer the logic of Edward Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer known for images of industrial projects and their environmental effects. He says,

"What took out the dinosaurs was a meteor impact. We, the human species, are now that impact. Humans are shifting the balance of the planet, and the choice rests within us to destroy it all, or not. It's a huge, complex thing to solve. We are a predator species run amok."

This JoLt is in memory of Jack Loscutoff

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Jimmy Hoffa as Santa Claus

After awhile, Joe Franco, Hoffa's whipping boy, learned how to spot if Jimmy Hoffa were really mad or just faking. When his ears turned red, Franco knew Jimmy's anger was real. However, if his ears didn't turn red, then Jimmy was just blowing off steam. 
To many Teamsters who knocked on Jimmy's door in the early 1950s, Jimmy didn't rage, he acted: he passed out favors, jobs, and gifts. 
He turned into Santa Claus at Christmas, passing out cash in wads, up to a hundred dollars to those who asked. This way, to the dismay of the Local 299 treasurer, Jimmy gave away $48,000 dollars in cash with no accounting for it.


  I Watched My Dad Beat the Teamsters
             A Daughter's Memoir
              by Marilyn June Coffey

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

Thursday, December 15, 2016


THAT PUNK JIMMY HOFFA opens during World War II.

When the war ends in 1945, Dad is 38, Jimmy Hoffa is 32, Bobby Kennedy is 20, 
and I'm 8, ringing my mama's school bell to celebrate our victory.

In thirty-two years, they'll all be dead but me.

I Watched My Dad Beat Him
  a father-daughter memoir
    by Marilyn June Coffey

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

Sunday, December 11, 2016


"At my age it is unseemly to be pessimistic," said Arabic writer Naguib Mahfouz. He was 83, and had been stabbed twice in his neck (but not fatally) for writing Children of the Alley, considered blasphemous.

I'm not quite as old as Mahfouz, but I shun pessimism, too. The instant I think, "I'm getting old," I lickety-split substitute, "I'm alive! alive! alive! alive! alive!"  

Life. What a windfall!

P. S. I plan to die sitting at my desk writing out my next book, as writer Jim Harrison did. 

* I thank Garrison Keillor and his December 11, 2016 "The Writer's Almanac" for inspiring this little blog of mine.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

I laughed till I cried

I suspect most writers, like me, are delighted whenever they learn what a reader thinks of their writing. 

NetGalley did me just such a favor when it sent me a couple of its recent reviews. 

Here's one by Bonnye Reed Fry who lives in New Mexico.

THIEVES, RASCALS & SORE LOSERS is an honest, intimate, enlightening review of the folks who settled and populated that part of the Louisiana Purchase that became the great state of Nebraska. I laughed till I cried, it is in places that funny. And, truthfully, it is joyous to read of an American state population who can top New Mexico in the fiercely independent populous and dirty tricks government men. I now feel a kinship with the cornhusker state.

Librarian Aric Monkman gave THIEVES five stars with a promise to recommend my book to book clubs, Readers' Advisory, and her own library.

And Kristine Fisher notes: While not necessarily taking on a "gosh darn varmit" tone, its story-length chapters feel almost like they're verbally transcribed.

Nice, huh.