Excerpts from books by Harry Golden
by George Trief
In order to get a "feel" for life in Mikulintsy in the late 1800s and early 1900s, here are excerpts from books written in the middle 1900s by the famous author, Harry Golden, whose last name is really Goldhirsch. He wrote about 15 books, most of them in a light vein, as he was a humorist. These portions speak for themselves of Yiddish living.
From the book, " So What Is New?", Page 227
"My father, Lebcbe ( Leib ) Goldhirsch came to America in the 1900s from the Galician town of Mikulince in the Austria-Hungarian Empire. The story of my father must be told in terms of the early twentieth- century.immigrant era in America when there were Jews who, though poor, still had status. It was a vanishing civilization but good while it lasted. This made my father something of a snob. He could never understand how it was that the son of a coal dealer or the son of a tailor could go to City College as an equal with me. The very idea! " In America, we sont need you with your yikhus (status)". The folks began to say. But my father held out. He felt that no matter how much money these other fellows made, they did not dare to wear a high silk hat. If a peddler made a million dollars he would still wear a cap, or at best he might toy with idea of a fedora or a derby.
Because he was a man of great stature among his landsmann, my father automatically became the president or the secretary of his burial society, his charity organization, and his fraternity.."
From the book, " Enjoy,Enjoy!", Page 12
"He, (Reb Lebche) went back to Europe in 1929 and we gave him four thousad dollars in Romanian lei and Polish zlotys so he could marry off twenty or thirty Jewish girls in Mikulince and other Galician towns. It was a great moment for Leb Lebche to stand in the back of an automobile riding from Mikulince to Radowitz, the folks followed the car in gratitude and pride and threw addresses and messages into his auto for delivery to relatives in America."
"As a boy, I sat through many benefits. My father was president of the Mikulinczer Verein (Galicia). These Mikulinczers ran a benefit five or six times a year. My father always made a speech between the second and third acts."
From the book, " The Autobiography of Harry Golden-The Right Time", Page 19
"Leib Goldhirschs birthday was October 20, 1860; a Hebrew teacher and the son of a Hebrew teacher. My father spent his youth and early childhood in a shtetl, which was no more than a restricted ghetto for the Jews. He had a thorough education, Hebrew, which made him an important man in this little enclave, for his education automatically qualified him as an intellectual. He could teach in the shtetl school as long as hie lived and never want. The Jews in this quasi suburb would always defer to him. But as soon as he had a family, my father left Mikulince. Though there no bars on the shtetl, still it was a cage. Austria-Hungary literally offered no opportunity for his children. They could not work as civil servants. They could not serve in any military rank higher than sergeant. They could not go into business. At best, they could become apothecaries, and then only after expending considerable sums in bribery. In 1904 my father and his oldest brother, Jacob, who was then in his teens, left Mikulince for Winnipeg, Canada."