Remembering Harry Golden: Food, Race, and Laughter


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Remembering Harry Golden: Food, Race, and Laughter

by Tom Hanchett
Southern Cultures, Vol. 11, No. 2: Summer 2005

"'I have a positive cure for this mental aberration called anti-Semitism. I believe that if we gave each anti-Semite an onion roll with lox and cream cheese, some chopped chicken liver with a nice radish, and a good piece of brisket of beef with a few potato pancakes, he'd soon give up all this nonsense.'"

Imagine a Jewish guy, short, fat, maybe in his fifties, bald, smoking a big cigar, Hungarian immigrants’ kid, Yiddish accent, very Lower East Side. Make him a reporter for a labor union newspaper. That’s Harry Golden. Now move him from New York, his natural habitat, to Charlotte, North Carolina. Cotton-mill town, banking town, place where religious diversity means Baptists and Presbyterians, adamantly antiunion dating back to the General Textile Strike of 1934, when labor was rounded up and put in barbed-wire concentration camps. That’s incongruous, right? Well, Harry Golden loved incongruous. He delighted in this new region he found himself in, and he delighted in the role of gadfly and kibitzer.