UNITED STATES—He’d won a scholarship to the University in Baton Rouge, but could not afford the textbooks, so like Jack London and Jack Kerouac, he hit the road and worked voraciously as a salesman of mail-order clothes, a purveyor of snake oil, and an auctioneer. (That was the time he became a mirror). When he talked, wow, he put his whole body into it. Willy long didn’t have a prejudicial bone in his body, he was friend of the poor, regardless of color. He was a Democrat, if not a democrat.
Willy Long’s opponents made hay of this natural embrace of Black voters, whom they decried as the “mongrel” vote. Long promised to “share the wealth” and give it all away. His good voice and wonderful phrasing helped launch his political career as an elected member of the Louisiana Railroad Commission at the age of 25. By then, he was the foe of Rockefeller’s oil. He was underestimated, treated patronizingly and dismissed as a buffoon. At this same time, he drew a huge popular following via his “Spread the Wealth” clubs across the nation that his opponents ridiculed as “Spread the Wrath.”
DELANEY MILLIONS support the gumbo mafia.
BLOOD OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS SPILLED FOR DELANEY.
Willy Long made a great newspaper if nothing else. With his bulletins he brought out in the open that a standing American Army was in central America, to be called into actions of any of numerous American business interests should be threatened by politics or charismatic folk heroes in Honduras and Guatemala. It sure did rip the mask off Sam’s face.
Now, you see, nobody knew who he was, even those who’s worked along side him in his offices in New York and Boston. The more they were around him, the less they knew.
I was one of the business reporters who covered Allied Fruit and Sam Delaney was a cipher. He got his values from the daily readings of the Bhagavad Gita: “Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness.” For all but the tiny handful of friends and associates who knew to look for him in the phone directory of New Orleans, his number was unlisted until that chubby prig Willy Long started using Sam as a punching bag. And he spoke from the back of sound trucks and to farmers in tiny hamlets, of Sam the Banana King who wears a crown of greed. Got them all riled up about nothing on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Something nasty was a-brewing. Three days before Senator Long’s birthday, already anticipating the private festivities he would enjoy, he’d returned to Baton Rouge and the state capitol. Long who’d already turned suspicious had his cadre of bodyguards recruiters from State Troopers. They got to wear betters threads, squeaky black boots and mirror shades. Long went all Nixon. Ordered investigations of his enemies, and the more awake they were they would have a weird feeling they were being watched and somebody was going through their desks.
The fortune teller, Cassandra, was her customary place in the stoop of the stairs, doling out wisdom and prophesy. Willy was a Virgo—Cassandra pointed out—in the racism of astrology Virgo is one of the most maligned, if not the most misunderstood of the Zodiac. God-fearing folk sat in their living rooms and rocked by the farm driveway and talked about ways they would kill Willy Long. Cassandra said, to whoever would listen:
“There are hearts purer than gold, and that is Willy Long’s heart. And you’ve got to get down and dirty to make things happen, bridges, highways, the tallest state capitol building in the contiguous states. It’s progressive if you like it; populist if you revile it, I’ll let you in on a secret (Cassandra said) if more people knew this they might choose public service: assassination is painless. That God the Creator hath design things, anesthetizes the corrupt flesh at the end, and there is sparkling brightness at the end of the blackest night. Share the Wealth, Shares the Wrath. Hip hip Willy who was clearly aiming for the White House.
To be continued…