I’m sure we all thought the same thing when we read that “remains” had been found along the path of the walking trail in Cheshire: We thought “Jimmy Hoffa,” of course. And I’m just as sure that we all felt a profound sense of letdown when we found out that this apparently couldn’t be what’s left of Mr. Hoffa, because the “remains” weren’t the kind of remains we were thinking of — not remains in the bodily sense, but only some rocks, or whatever, that may be left from a previous civilization. In archeological lingo, this is “pre-contact” material, meaning it dates to before the E ropean invasion of America.
We’re talking “minuscule pieces of rock that were shaped by people who lived here before the Native Americans,” as it has been characterized.
And that’s interesting, I guess — but it’s hardly enough to win Cheshire 15 minutes of fame on any of those celebrity gossip shows that come on right after the network evening news to tell us which rehab Lindsay is in this week and who’s winning the Twitter war, Miley or Sinead, and how Kim is doing, post-baby.
So let’s hope the state archaeologist, or whoever it is whose job it is to dig stuff up when that stuff might conceivably turn out to be a cadaver, will go over this material carefully, just to make absolutely sure we haven’t finally found the colorful, controversial and criminal former head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (whose president is still named James Hoffa — what are the odds?). Jimmy Hoffa did some time in the slammer and then had the rest of his sentence commuted by Richard Nixon and hasn’t been seen since he allegedly met with Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano at the Red Fox Restaurant in suburban Detroit on July 30, 1975.
So far, all clues and tips have led to dead ends: It seems that Mr. Hoffa is not resting in peace under the end zone of Giants Stadium in New Jersey, as once was the popular view; nor, it seems, is he interred on a horse farm near Detroit, which was searched not long ago; nor has anyone demonstrated that he was fed into a wood chipper by Mr. Provenzano, as another theory went; and there’s no telling whether his corpse was actually in the trunk of a car that was crushed and shipped to Japan as scrap metal; and nobody can prove that he was bumped off by “longtime friend” Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran or “longtime friend” Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien.
Which, in a way, makes Cheshire as plausible a resting place as anywhere else. Therefore, strictly in the spirit of public service, I’d like to offer a few suggestions as to what the scientists should keep an eye out for that might cause them to take another look at the Cheshire site as the possible final, uh, address of James Riddle Hoffa:
• Anything that looks like it might once have been a menu or book of matches bearing the words “Red Fox Restaurant.”
• A set of keys that might belong to a Cadillac, but not newer than a 1975 model.
• A diamond pinkie ring. (Did he wear one? No idea. It just seems like the kind of thing Jimmy Hoffa would have worn.)
• A money clip, possibly with the engraved initials “JRH” and almost certainly with a big dollar sign on it, the better to hold some of the millions of dollars he had managed to skim from the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund.
But if it’s not Mr. Hoffa, maybe it’s Judge Crater.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.