UNITED STATES—My father, gone now for more than a decade, was one of the most sensitive and truthful men I ever knew. He suffered, though he did not suffer it in his own flesh, from other peoples’ bigotry, intolerance and transgressions. He once told me with what sounded like disappointment, uncolored by envy, that no man in America makes it really big without stepping over somebody else. It might just be a small illicit act; perhaps some sort of office sabotage, or something far more sinister. You grab your chance…The Chicago grab. And it might be that the chance just come around only once, that fire-breathing cinder-spewing locomotive that spanned the American continent from sea to shining sea.

His words always bothered me, because they rang with truth, and contained within them the true story of incentivize and power and what it does to the men and women who embrace it. You’ve got to go all the way…That was the case of Rosa Gutierrez, the nom-d’-plume with which the winning political story raised my stock in Mexico.  It was contrived to lend further sympathy from the reader in judging, “International Bridge.” I carried a tinge of guilt and tried to white it out on copies of the newspaper article that appeared after the contest. I definitely knew what it was to go all the way, that’s all I can say, and not waste time speculating about if the story would have won without any chicanery at all.

Sam Delaney instinctively did not describe himself as Jewish, and he almost never went to synagogue except for the occasional bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah in the New Orleans/Baton Rouge nexus. After providing ships to the Holy Land for the exodus from Europe, and quietly providing steam shovels and monetary aid to the early settlers there, in his late long middle age he embraced the formation of a state of Israel in word and deed, most of all wanting to make real what had been dreamed of so long. He had a feeling for the early Zionists. They were Eastern European Jews who took control of their destiny because they knew damn well nobody else would and from their mother’s breasts they suckled stories of the pogroms and the saber-bearing Cossacks.

The George Washington, or the Simon Bolivar, of the still mystical state of Israel Chaim Weisshaus who came expressly to find Sam Delaney in the year of 1922. The future president and founder of the Jewish state after this vital visit, kept up the contact and took great pleasure from their encounters. They’d pick up the thread of conversation right where it left off.

“Dear G*d,” he exclaimed. “Why don’t you make more men like Sam Delaney.”

A not insensitive man, Weisshaus (whose name meant white house in German) was aware of the kismet of staying in Sam’s blazingly white colonnaded mansion on Canal Street.  He was also welcome company for Rebecca, Sam’s remarkable wife.

“She’s an extraordinary violinist,” Weisshaus told Sam after one post-banquet concert in their regal parlor. “It is a crime she has never played in public.”

The future statesman, and former watch salesman, Weisshaus had been traveling the United States when he heard the first story about Sam the Banana Man. The outlines caught the comet tail of his imagination. “I made an unusual discovery in New Orleans, where resided a remarkable personality in American Jewry. I paid my first visit to New Orleans, with its louche Catholic vibe, specially to meet him. Phone calls from my friends in the cause informed Mr. Delany of my arrival and he postponed his own planned departure from the city for several days.”

Weisshaus found the days extremely interesting and also beneficial for the Israel Funds.

To be continued…

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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)