UNITED STATES—The Great Andean Poet, whose immortal plaint evoked the crime of the Allied Fruit Co., it read like a list of Bernie’s top clients: Coca-Cola, Inc. Anaconda Mines, Ford Motor Cars, AT&T. Bernie was a cagey fellow on the cutting edge of advertising—something bigger than that, grander and scarier, gaping and lonely. Bernie was an exceptionally bright student and, really wasn’t to blame for taking what his learned and put it into useful practice.

A circumstance as defining in its way as the daunting face of having been born into royalty of science and intellect. Sigmund Freud was his second cousin. He took his second cousin’s ideas about the subconscious and symbols and they sloshed around. Bernie took his second cousin’s poetry, as he patronizingly called it, and turn it onto Cashola on the vine through this new industry he was a part of, coalescing as Bernie wondered and wandered and learned and picked an endless stream of dollars of the evergreen vine.

Bernie learned the secret nodes of the psyche, what made people secretly tick, the complexes, fears, yearnings, phobias and fantasies that drove people in everything. Due to the growing reputation of his agency, which ran the gamut from fixer to creating jingles that can’t get out of your head and increase sales, William Morris, manufacturer of famous cigarettes approached Bernie with a big nebulous idea. This can give you an idea how he was worth more than his weight in gold. The big nebulous idea was ‘How can we increase our sales by 50 percent.’ The didn’t have a clue, they’d just come into Bernie’s Manhattan Office and, after one of Bernie’s reptilian pauses, he immediately offered, “You need to start selling to women.”

Bernie glommed onto the phrase, “Freedom Torches,” to induce women to smoke in public and expressly eliminate the social taboos associated with lighting up in public. It was 1922. For the Easter Sunday parade down Fifth Avenue he hired a brigade of demurely hatted, paid them to light up and promenade down the avenue. It was startling, to say the least, to behold this group of women doing something that was done, if it was done at all, in the privacy of one’s own home.

If nobody sees you doing it, you’ re not smoking. This staged event really messed with that. Overnight, “Freedom Torches” gave women the right to smoke before they got the right to vote, while transforming the act of smoking into a symbol of allure and sensuality.

Sam Delaney, closing the gap of years that separated him from 50 years old, was already spending more and more time around the isthmus, overseeing the creation of new plantations on the bank of Río Chamelecón, and relying on publicity agents who gaudily illustrated brochures got in housewives heads.

“Brighten your drab décor with a fresh splash of color. Bring bananas to your table!” illustrated by an engraving of a brilliantly yellow banana. On another pamphlet, ladled by quotations from 100 top medical authorities, a young, impossibly idealized, pre-teen lad beams wholesomeness under the heading, “BANANAS AND HEALTH.” Sam Delaney, at the time, did not have the faintest suspicions that they were copping techniques being pioneered by a frizzy haired upstart who claimed to be the nephew of Sigmund Freud and would soon be a legend in the corporate world.

Years later when Sam would meet Bernard Lukasey at a social shindig in New York his presentation seemed like something heard in a dream: “Works like a charm to blend in the dimension of health is a society so deeply puritanical as the U.S.A. Like circus dogs, people leap through hoops, given the chimera, ’this is good for you,’” he stated in his presentation to Sam Delaney. At that first meeting, Bernie galled Sam, who already had a voluminous if unknown history of giving to causes and people deemed worth.

Bernard Lukasey smugly advised him: “Start giving like crazy. It’ll make a name for you.”

The mistaken notion that Lukasey had stolen it from the publicity agents was soon replaced by the knowledge that it was the other way around when, finally, Sam Delaney and Allied Fruit signed. Bernie’s subliminal rake stirred up all kinds of thoughts between housekeeping and health. The year Sam’s Chamelecón Fruit Co. contracted the services of Bernie’s Bureau, that year unit sales went up by five million.

To be continued. . .

Grady is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)