Harry Golden, The Original Blogger

When Martin Luther King was blasting white moderates in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, he mentioned five authors who had written about the evils of racial segregation “in eloquent and prophetic terms.” One was Harry Golden, a Jewish writer from New York’s Lower East Side who moved to North Carolina and founded “The Carolina Israelite,” an occasional, eclectic periodical which became famous all over the world.

Golden wrote about whatever came into his head — making him the original blogger. He wrote about Caesar and Cleopatra and Augustus, the Magna Carta, John Locke, Jean Jaques Rousseau — whatever — and he had a seemingly endless collection of anecdotes about America’s founding fathers including the one about Gouverneur Morris and LaFayette’s wife.

But what he loved most was writing about the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which he did so vividly that you can literally smell the kreplach and the latkes.

He wrote about his own times, too, from 1942 to 1968, upholding the cause of equality in the face of entrenched bigotry, but always with wit and good humor.

His essays, anecdotes and snippets were published in many different books, notably his three bestsellers, Only In America, For Two Cents Plain and Enjoy, Enjoy!

All his work is brimming with love for America and all that it stands for. Harry Golden was a true patriot. He loved this country enough to face up to the things that were so terribly wrong with it.

Here’s a sample of his writing, a description of his mother:

“My mother, I would say, was a primitive woman. She spoke only Yiddish. She could read the prayers out of the book but that was all. She spent all her time cooking, cleaning, sewing; sewing for the family as well as professionally for the neighbors.

“I think my intellectual father guessed at my mother’s ‘amusement.’ I have had the feeling that he knew she was not overly impressed [by the men’s discussions]. My mother, of course, thought all those discussions were nonsense. What does a person need but God? And she had God.

“Sometimes I smile at all the goings-on over the radio about God. Whose God are they talking about anyway — what do they know about God?

“My mother talked with God all the time, actual conversations. She would send you on an errand and as you were ready to dart off into the crowded, dangerous streets, she turned her face upward and said, ‘Now see that he’s all right.'”