Opportunity is knocking again

The 31-year search for missing – and presumed dead – labor leader Jimmy Hoffa recently provided some unexpected side benefits for a tiny Michigan town.

According to a New York Times report, the FBI’s latest effort to unearth Hoffa in the community of Milford, Mich., has not only made the small town less boring, but it also has spawned a cottage industry in souvenirs and funky foodstuffs.

When federal agents, acting on a tip from a prison inmate in Kentucky, began digging at Hidden Dreams Farm outside Milford, townsfolk began cashing in on the excitement with everything from commemorative cupcakes to T-shirts.

The Jimmy Hoffa cupcake – who woulda thought it?

All good things must come to an end, though, and when the FBI failed to locate Hoffa’s body, daily life in Milford was destined to return to humdrum normality.And that’s when opportunity once again came knocking for Vacaville.

Think about it – if Jimmy Hoffa isn’t buried in Milford, he’s gotta be buried someplace else.

Why not Vacaville?

Let’s be realistic, amigos, if we don’t turn up the excitement around Vacaville soon, ennui will sweep over the town like a gray wave of yesterday’s mushroom gravy. You can only counter abject community boredom with jalapeno pepper-eating contests for so long.

Then everybody falls asleep.

We need to take a lesson from Milford. Now that the FBI has again given up the search for Jimmy Hoffa, we need to embrace the mysterious labor icon and invite investigators to search for his body in Vacaville.

Hey, if the FBI acts on random tips from convicts in Kentucky, they certainly ought to listen to a thoughtful, well-spoken Vacaville prison inmate. How hard can it be to find a fun-loving felon at CMF or California State Prison, Solano, who’ll loudly speculate on the possibility of Jimmy Hoffa being buried in Vacaville – possibly beneath the site of the old Wooz amusement park or under the CreekWalk?

And once the FBI shows up with shovels and backhoes, Vacaville can take full advantage of its newfound notoriety.

Jimmy Hoffa cupcakes and T-shirts will be only the beginning. If Vacaville really gets behind this random exhumation, we can make a permanent impact that will stretch far beyond the day that the FBI packs up and leaves.

In addition to “Jimmy Hoffa Days” (with, perhaps, a Little Miss and Mister Jimmy Contest), Vacaville’s business community could be radically transformed. We could be home to the Take Ya For a Ride Limousine Service, An Omelette You Can’t Refuse Restaurant and the Sleep with the Fishes Pool Service.

If we play this right, it’s going to be a win-win situation for everybody (except, perhaps, Mr. Hoffa…). All we’ll have to do is occasionally move a little dirt and keep relatively straight faces for the tourists.

And, just to be on the safe side, let’s keep this to ourselves – eat this column after you read it. We don’t want to be giving Fairfield or Dixon any bright ideas…

Originally published June 11, 2006