Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Barrel

Remember those big beautiful Victorian homes that lined Elizabeth Ave when we were at Central? My violin teacher, Michael Wise, had his studio in one of them. And two houses over was where the author and publisher of the Carolina Israelite, Harry Golden lived and worked. Golden achieved national fame with his book ONLY IN AMERICA in which he suggested that the way to solve the race problem in the South was to remove the seats from lunch counters; his theory being that the whites and blacks in the South got along fine, until they sat down. He called his theory, THE VERTICAL NEGRO PLAN.

I had been a Harry Golden fan since my days at UNC where they tell about the time he was to speak at a rather somber event of some kind or other at the university…..and as he rose to approach the podium his chair knocked over his briefcase…and a bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon fell out and slid across the stage.

For years he produced a one man newspaper, THE CAROLINA ISRAELITE. It was the closest thing to a personal blog as it could be, only it was printed on “dead trees” since the internet, of course, hadn’t been invented back then. He wrote all the stories, pasted them together, and did everything but print it himself. He called it an “almost monthly” publication and its subscription list read like a “who’s who” in America.

What fascinated me the most about him, was his apparent memory. His paper was full of short stories about his childhood growing up in the Jewish ghetto in New York City. Many others had wondered about his “photographic” memory too, so he explained in one of his columns that for years he kept a barrel next to his desk and every time an article would catch his attention or a thought or flash of memory would come to him, he would write it down and throw it in the barrel.

And when it became time to publish the next edition of his paper….he would simply go to the barrel.

Always Looking for ways to improve my own skills,
I adopted that technique for myself. That was around 1959.

Trying to think of ways to keep this website fresh....I suddenly remembered "my barrel." which I had totally forgotten about since 1969 or so.

I found it after about an hour search.

Sad to say, there was very little that was worth saving. The insights and cleaver sayings that I had cut out from newspapers and magazines 50 years ago were all terribly outdated or had become cliches.

So, the “barrel technique” didn’t work for me.

Too bad I didn't discover what brand of typewriter he used…..I’ll bet that was his secret. -Ed