Jimmy In Detroit

On this date in 1975, labor leader Jimmy Hoffa was reported missing.


Posted by This Date in History

On the morning of this day in 1975, James Riddle Hoffa, one of the most influential American labor leaders of the 20th century, was officially reported missing after he failed to return home the previous night. Though he is popularly believed to have been the victim of a Mafia hit, to date nothing has been proven.

He was scheduled to retake his Union, The Teamsters. But Frank Fitzsimmons was president of the Union while Jimmy was in prison and had no desire to give up the position. Apparently Frank didn’t consider the position temporary at all. Mafia and Teamsters were synonymous in those days, so as the saying goes, “six of one, half a dozen of the other” for who killed him. And offed he was, no doubt. He had a meeting with three other men, a couple from the Union, and a mobster. Apparently no one showed up. He was angry about being stood up and eventually left the restaurant only to get into a car with several other men waiting for him in the parking lot.

It was at one of the Fox and Hound restaurants in Bloomfield Hills, on Telegraph Road. It was not far from where I had been living at one point, and I often met people there for lunch. They had great food and a lovely salad that I would get. But by the time of the hit I had moved away from Michigan, returning home to La Crosse, Wisconsin. I was no longer associated with the Union, though I was still involved with a Union person and would be for several more years, even returning to Michigan to again live there for a while.

We used to see several Teamsters at Carl’s Chop House in Detroit where we often went to eat and drink, socialize. Detroit was still very much alive in those days. There was a vibrancy and energy that existed everywhere then: a thriving theatre district, restaurants with long lines of cars waiting to get in, and people walking the streets while expensive cars drove by with their music loud and pulsing.

I saw Jimmy at the Chop once. His wife too, as she was sitting at the bar drinking while a group of us were dining nearby. The place was loud as usual. When Jimmy came into the bar it grew quiet and we watched without speaking. It happened quickly. He went up to the bar where his wife was, grabbed her arm as she reached for her purse and the coat draped over her barstool. He didn’t say anything at least that I could tell. Obviously he didn’t approve either of her drinking or drinking at the bar. Someone at the table said he didn’t approve of women at the bar. Probably not of her drinking as much as she did either. In any case, she must not have expected him there, certainly not then.

And that was it. Just as quickly he walked into my life and just as quickly out of it. It must have felt the same for him getting into that car. Exciting, sad, and quick. And that was all there was to it. Gone.