Tag Archives: mob

Jimmy Hoffa and Giant’s Stadium

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Caucasian American
Age: 50
Occupation: Professor of Creative Writing
Residence: Monterey, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/7/12
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant Bio

My informant grew up in Hudson County, New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s, spending most of his childhood in Secaucus. He remembers having friends whose family members had ties to the Italian mob, and in fact his own father worked as a Teamster (a cement mixer driver, specifically) for the Teamsters local 560. This was the chapter of the Teamsters union run by notorious Italian mob boss Tony Provenzano. My informant does not recall that living in such a mob run area ever caused him or his family any anxiety, it was simply a fact of life in Hudson County.

My informant now lives in Monterey, California, and will occasionally tell stories about New Jersey when his family is around, or when he is feeling nostalgic. I was able to take notes on this story while some of my informant’s family was visiting from the East Coast.

Jimmy Hoffa and Giant’s Stadium

My informant told me that because gangster and Detroit Teamster Jimmy Hoffa mysteriously disappeared during the construction of Giant’s Stadium (now officially named the Meadowlands Sports Complex) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a popular theory was circulated that Hoffa was killed by the mob and dropped into the newly poured concrete in the stadium’s end zone.

“People liked that theory (where I lived). Most people thought it was possible. They knew how mobbed up the companies building the stadium were.”

However, my informant doesn’t quite believe this theory about Hoffa’s final resting place, because my informant’s father was one of the men pouring the cement at Giant’s Stadium. My informant’s father pointed out at the time that planting a body in the cement at the stadium would require a large number of people knowing about the hit (on Hoffa). It simply takes too many men with cement trucks to plausibly plant that body – and even if they did it at night after the construction day had ended, it would require hands to dig up the cement that had been laid during the day and Teamsters to pour new cement in order to prevent the construction crew from knowing that the cement had been tampered with.

“They’re (the mob) not bright bears as a rule, but they’re not that dumb,” my informant said. So though my informant has a personal connection to the story, he believes that it would have been easier for the mob to carve up Hoffa’s body into pieces and dump him in the Meadowlands, “or Snake Hill landfill, which is home to, a lotta guys apparently.” No reason to give Hoffa any special treatment.

The various theories about Hoffa’s disappearance that have come out of Hudson County, New Jersey seem to be an exhibition of the denizens of their knowledge of the way the mob works. Living with the acceptance of mob activity makes their actions something that can be enjoyable to speculate about, especially when people feel they have some understanding of their dealings. It’s a source of, in a way, town pride and personal connection between those people who lived in the mob’s shadow, but were not directly connected to them.

The Jersey Devil

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Caucasian American
Age: 50
Occupation: Professor of Creative Writing
Residence: Monterey, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/8/12
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant Bio

My informant grew up in Hudson County, New Jersey, in the 1960s and 1970s, spending most of his childhood in Secaucus. He remembers having friends whose family members had ties to the mob, and in fact his own father worked as a Teamster (a cement mixer driver, specifically) for the Teamsters local 560, the chapter of the Teamsters union run by notorious Italian mob boss Tony Provenzano. He does not recall that living in such a mob run area ever caused him or his family any anxiety, it was simply a fact of life in Hudson County.

Though my informant lived for almost twenty years in Ohio during and after college, and now resides in California, his New Jersey accent slips back into his voice when he tells stories about New Jersey. This story was recorded at a family gathering in California when some of my informant’s family from the east coast were visiting.

The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is a mythic creature that reportedly roams the Pine Barrens (a stretch of undeveloped wilderness) in New Jersey. My informant related to me the tale he heard as a kid of how the devil came to be.

During the Revolutionary War days, the Pine Barrens were a place that the outcasts of society, those too poor to afford better, lived. The tale goes that a poor couple with many children lived there, and they were so poor they could barely feed the family. With another child on the way, the husband decided to make a deal with the Devil (as in Satan of Christian lore, not the Jersey devil) that if he performed certain tasks the Devil would grant them enough wealth to feed the family and allow them to move out of the Pine Barrens to a better place.

My informant couldn’t remember the tasks the Devil gave the man exactly, only that instead of doing them, the husband tried to fake that he had done them somehow.  The Devil was, naturally, not fooled. So he cursed the couple’s unborn child. The wife gave birth to a hideous beast with cloven hooves and leathery wings, and as soon as it was born it flew up the chimney and out into the Pine Barrens.

The beast was given the name “the Jersey devil,” and it is rumored to prowl the Pine Barrens to this day, attacking people and eating children, as such beasties will do. It is well known in New Jersey that one should never go into the Pine Barrens alone, or at night, because the Jersey devil might get you.

What would appear to me to be a scary story that could be told to children to keep them from wandering off into dangerous woods and getting lost, actually has a more important message for the residents of Hudson County, New Jersey, where my informant was from. He explained that the Pine Barrens are nowhere near Hudson County, so to him the tale is a parable for not double-crossing the mob. Replace Satan in the story with the mob, and you see the warning: that if one doesn’t fulfill their side of a bargain with the mob, they may not take it out on you, they might take it out on your loved ones; your family.

Appearances in Authored Literature

The Jersey devil has become such a beloved part of New Jersey popular culture that it has most famously become the mascot for the New Jersey Devils Hockey Team. Reported sightings of the creature, and even people who claim it attacked them, keeps the story alive and in the public consciousness. A piece on the Jersey devil appears in the popular travel book Weird NJ, where a different version of the tale tells of a woman who, after having 13 children by a jobless drunk, in a fit of rage asked the heavens to turn her next child into a devil.

The devil even made it into an episode of the X-Files, a popular show during the 1990s that featured two FBI agents who exclusively investigated reports of paranormal phenomena. In that episode, sightings of the devil were attributed to a Neanderthal-like creature that may have been the product of an evolutionary mutation.

Cited

Carter, Chris, prod. The X-Files: The Jersey Devil. Perf. David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson. 1993. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <www.netflix.com>.

Moran, Mark, and Mark Sceurman. Weird N.J.: Your Travel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. New York: Sterling Publishers, 2009. Print.

New Jersey Devils Team Site. National Hockey League, 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://devils.nhl.com/>.