Thursday, January 26, 2017

Clorox® Galore

On a Friday morning, sixty-one years ago, one of my Dad's trucks pulled into Ralph Darling's Omaha terminal to transfer freight. In the terminal waited a big Darling Transfer truck. 

It had cruised in from Oakland, California, carrying a load of Clorox®, not the watered-down bleach produced by rivals, but Clorox® full strength, able to disinfect wounds and purify water. 

The two trucks parked back to back in the street while drivers and dock workers unloaded boxes full of amber bottles from the Darling truck and put them into the Coffey truck to be delivered to its customer.


Across the street, Leslie Morganson, vice president of Teamster Local No. 554, watched the unloading and reloading from his car. It took more than an hour. 

When the Coffey's Transfer truck pulled out, Morganson headed back to union headquarters on South 90th Street. There he placed a call to Teamster Local No. 41 in Kansas City.

What was he up to? 

Believe me, he was up to no good.

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

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

Thursday, January 19, 2017


In the winter of 1964, the federal courtroom in Chattanooga, Tennessee, exploded into an uproar. 
Jimmy Hoffa's gang of defense lawyers leaped to their feet crying, "Mistrial, mistrial." 
The bailiff hustled the jurors into a back room.
A Teamster named Edward Grady Partin had slipped out of the mountain cabin where he'd been hidden for days. With the help of the FBI, he sneaked into the court's witness room. 
When Partin heard the call, "Next witness," he stepped through the courtroom door and into the witness box. 
Hoffa looked up, stunned. "My God, it's Partin!"

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

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


When Jack Loscutoff still lived with me, he made me so mad. Like the doddering old man that he was, he spilled white correction fluid on my prized wooden floor.

When he saw what he'd done, he knelt to clean it up, but the gleaming Wite-Out clung to the floor and would not vanish.

"Let me try." However, my green scouring pad didn't work, either. This spot, I knew, would remain on my floor forever! 

My temper flared. "How could you do such a dumb thing?" 

"I was holding it like this," Jack cradled the bottle in his palm, "and I turned to look at something and it tipped like this."

"Stop! Don't spill it again!"

Jack is long since dead, but not that white spot. I glare at it each time I enter the dining room. I try to forgive his clumsiness, but I can't.

Then the other day, working in my office, I unscrewed the cap of a brand new bottle of rubber cement. A squirrel scratching at the window distracted me. I turned back to see my own hand pouring a thick stream of rubber cement on one leg of my jeans.

I screeched—"Oh, no! Brand new jeans. Only worn once!"—and scooped up as much goo as I could. I grabbed paper towels and sponged up the dreck, but a stain remained. 

"How could I be so stupid." Hot soapy water didn't help. Neither did the green scouring pad.

However, I did not despair. "It's only rubber cement. It'll wash out in the laundry." 

But it didn't. A dark spot, as big as my hand, persisted.

I folded the jeans, to be used now as gardening pants, but my loss made me snarl. "You doddering old lady," I said. 

Suddenly I remembered Jack and the Wite-Out. His sin so mirrored mine. Would I cling to my anger as I had with him, or forgive myself. 

Of course, if I forgave my decrepit self for dumping dross on my pants,I had no alternative—did I?—but to forgive my shambling Jack, too.

So I shopped around until I found a pretty ivory throw rug. Took it home and forgave Jack when I tossed the rug over the Wite-Out spot, rendering his accident invisible to my angry eyes.  

Now I'm on-line, shopping for a replacement for my gummed up jeans: Lee, classic fit, straight legs, 12 short, made in Mexico. I better order two pair; Trump surely will outlaw jeans made in aztec country.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Doing the Impossible

On January 15, 1964, Jimmy Hoffa did the impossible. He signed a national contact between 15,000 trucking companies and his Teamsters' Union with its 2 million members. 
It was the first national contract in U.S. labor history and Hoffa's greatest achievement as a labor leader.
Not everyone was happy. That contract, noted critics, give Hoffa a stranglehold over our economy. "Now he can call a national truckers' strike."
"I'm not going to call a friggin' nation-wide strike," Hoffa protested.
But Congress didn't believe him.  It cooked up legislation to outlaw strikes by national truckers.

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

Publication Date: July 30 
the date Hoffa "disappeared"

Friday, January 6, 2017

One Man's War

Fifty-three years ago, just before January 4, 1964, I kept my eye on New York's newsstands. Sure enough, the latest issue of the Saturday Evening Post came out early. The flat magazine, big as a poster, featured a pet dolphin, "the new status symbol," over most of its blue cover. When I saw ONE MAN'S WAR WITH JIMMY HOFFA in the upper corner of the cover, I knew the Post contained Dad's story—and my first national publication. I bought two copies, even though I no longer had a job.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

To Jannie

Yesterday I woke up grouchy and stayed grouchy all day. My sweet Aunt Faith would say I got up on the wrong side of bed, and maybe I did (although not literally).

This morning, however, I woke in a good mood, remembering my pretty, vivacious high school girl friend, Janice Stone. 

Jannie, petite and blonde and stacked like a woman, loved to flirt, so boys swarmed around her like bees to clover. Her mother bought her pretty clothes that showed off her C cups, unlike my mother who draped me in sweaters two sizes too big to camouflage my peanuts.

Jannie's folks had a farm just over the Nebraska-Kansas state line. I loved to visit her there. A player piano stood in the living room, and we two would wind it up and sing, howling like wolves.

Time took its course. 

When I last saw Jannie, we walked along the Alma, Nebraska, highway, chatting. She planned to move to California, and we knew we'd probably not see each other again.

We were in our young thirties; she hated aging. Youth, she knew, was part of her charm. I was a year older than Jannie, and she never let me forget that. 

As we chatted, she turned to me, her blue eyes sparkling. She knew I planned to be a famous writer, like Willa Cather, or, at worst, Beth Streeter Aldrich, so she quipped, "Now Marilyn, when those reporters interview you, don't tell them your age because then everybody will know how old I am."

And sweet Jannie, I want you to know that for your sake, I never told a reporter the truth about my age. With you in mind, I always swore I was much older than I was. The last time a reporter asked, I insisted I was in my nineties.