Stubborn to Live, Stubborn to Die

The West Branch Susquehanna River zigzags its way through central Pennsylvania , passing to the east of the small community of Kelly Township, about 170 miles west of Philadelphia. Cornfields patina the countryside a brassy yellow, accentuating the thick boundaries of oak forests teeming with deer and fox. Farming and hunting naturally dominate the local activities but other than that there’s nothing to explain the unique group of men who’ve called this out-of-the-way place home… except: the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.

On December 23, 1971, a man walked out the doors of the prison having served only five years of a thirteen year sentence thanks to a Presidential pardon. At the time, he was already more well- known than some of the men who’d occupied his cell-block before him – Whitey Bulger, Wilhelm Reich, and Alger Hiss – better known than any he served time with – Paul Vario, RobertLee Johnson, and John Gotti – and even more infamous than those that would follow – Henry Hill, John Wojtowicz, and Robert Hansen. His fame, however, didn’t help him “post-prison” and he met resistance in regaining the glory of his old life, so three years later he began to write his autobiography.
And then he disappeared.

His autobiography was published a few months later but it didn’t include his obituary. That was to be written and rewritten over the years by a countless parade of surmising G-men, deathbed thugs, and barstool theorists: “Disintegrated in a fat-rendering plant… Mixed in the concrete below Giant’s Stadium… Sealed in a drum in a toxic waste dump… Buried under the helipad at the Sheraton Savannah Resort… Crushed in scrap-metal and shipped to Japan.”

Etcetera. Etcetera.
Since Jimmy Hoffa mysteriously disappeared from a restaurant near his Detroit home in 1975, he’s died a thousand deathsand counting, yet refuses to die.


Jocelyn M said...

Fantastic story! Really like this ending without end; so appropriate: "he's died a thousand deaths... and counting, yet he refuses to die."

cyurkanin said...

Thanks, Jocelyn!

Enbrethiliel said...


This reminds me of all the people who would swear they ran into Elvis after he was supposedly dead!

(Elvis or Marilyn. I wonder which cultural figure will be next.)