Nationality: Caucasian American
Occupation: Professor of Creative Writing
Residence: Monterey, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/7/12
Primary Language: English
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.