For some reason I am reminded tonight of the long drive home of Harry Golden in 1959. “It was a lonely and somewhat terrifying trip.” he wrote. “My work, I thought, now ends.”
Harry Golden was the founder and editor of The Carolina Israelite in Raleigh, North Carolina, which at the time had a circulation of 45,000. He was an advocate of civil rights and was mentioned by name by Martin Luther King in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail as a writer who understood the cause.
Harry was scheduled to appear on a CBS program on civil rights opposite an opponent of racial integregation, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. Harry would have made mincemeat out of that guy, but he didn’t appear. Instead he made his long trip home to Raleigh, thinking that his career was at an end.
An anonymous letter was sent to a New York newspaper revealing the Harry Golden had spent five years in prison for fraud.
Harry’s sister had run a small-time stock brokerage, known at the time as a bucket shop, that allowed working stiffs to cash in on the meteoric rise of the stock market. When the crash came, the bucket shops were all caught short. My own opinion is he took the rap for his sister. He himself said it was something he was going to discuss with his sons and no one else.
When he got home he found that the whole country was behind him, starting with Billy Graham, continuing through the clergy of every major denomination and ending up with America’s poet laureate Carl Sandburg.
On top of that he was asked to speak at the Raleigh Rotary and to be the commencement speaker at the Raleigh High School graduation. Way to go, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Oh, and on top of that, his book Only in America became a national bestseller, as did his second book For Two Cents Plain. These books are not at all hard to find, and they are guaranteed great reading and they say a lot about the greatness of America.