Legendary Newsman Paul Goldman Reflects on His 105 Years on Earth
by Jace LeJeune
There is a famous song that is written by Five for Fighting and the song is called “100 Years”. In the song, there is a verse that says “There’s never a wish better than this when you only have 100 years to live.” That is not the case for Paul Goldman, who is now 105 years old. Goldman has experienced many historic events during his life such as the Great Depression, WWII, and even WWI. He has went through many ups and downs during his life, but in the end, it was all worth it. This is just an article and there can never be enough words to describe the entire life of an interesting guy like Paul Goldman, who has truly seen it all.
Goldman’s parents were only two out of millions of immigrants that made their way to Ellis Island hoping to succeed in the Land of Opportunity. Both of Paul Goldman’s grandparents came from very different backgrounds. His mother Rose Schneider immigrated to the United States the same way and for the same reason that many other immigrant women went and that was to have a successful life in America, but it was never easy by any stretch of the imagination.
“My mother Rose Schneider was originally from Gori, Georgia (Soviet Russia), which was the same place where Joseph Stalin was born (Russian Dictator),” Goldman said. “I still don’t know how she got to the United States, but I knew that she had a brother that was already living here so he must have brought here here. I believe she was 16 or 18 working at a sweat shop making hats and she would work from 6 in the morning to dark while being locked up in a room.”
Even though his mother went to Ellis Island in a conventional way just like a lot of immigrants did, Goldman’s father, however, was in grave danger when he went to America.
“My father was Jacob David Ryba, and he escaped the Russian Tsars,” Goldman said. “They found books at his position which were against the Tsars and they were going to take him as a prisoner to Siberia. He somehow managed to escape to Cherbourg, France. There was a family named Goldman (no relation) that took him in on a ship that was ready to embark for the United States. They took him in as a member of the family and then he changed his last name to Goldman because of that.”
Even though Goldman’s parents didn’t know each other at the time, it was destiny that brought them together.
“They both met at a school in New York called Coopers Union because what the immigrants did when they arrived in the United States was that they went to school in order to learn English,” Goldman said. “My mother didn’t go to school that very long, and my father went to college where he would become a journalist. My father brought my mother down to Atlanta to help publish the first and only Jewish newspaper in the South. The paper would go on to fail and as a result, he got a job peddling socks, underwear, and notions door to door. He would still contribute to writing for Jewish newspapers in New York, but it wasn’t that much money.”
Now, Paul Goldman’s story begins on August 10th, 1912 at 10:45 P.M., which was the day and time that he was born even though, in Jewish law, he would be born on the next day because any time after sundown would be considered as the next day. Throughout Paul Goldman’s early life, he traveled to many different locations because of his father having many jobs in that period of time. During that time frame, Paul Goldman attended 14 different grammar schools, a junior high school, and two high schools. The Goldmans would settle in places such as Buffalo, New York, Youngstown, Warren, Niles, and Cleveland, Ohio. Even with all the constant traveling and enrolling in many different schools, Goldman thrived academically in every school that he attended especially in Oglethorpe College. He not only thrived in the classroom but outside the classroom as well. Goldman participated in French Club as well as the speech and debate club, but it was his involvement with one particular club that helped get involved with journalism, which was his father’s main expertise.
“I was always a part of the drama department,” Goldman said. “I was an actor and took part in the plays regularly. A guy named James Thomas Lupton from Birmingham, Alabama, who was in the steel business, gave Oglethorpe the money to buy an educational radio station. I was at Oglethorpe at the time, and I just volunteered announcing at the radio station. That’s how I got my start in radio.”
Goldman would not get a degree at Oglethorpe but because of his great voice and ability to debate on radio, he would get the chance to work at a radio station called WJTL, which he would go on to conquer many feats in the radio business. The new radio station was called WTJL and during his time at the radio station, Goldman would accomplish many things including being one of the first people to announce Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for president in the early 1930’s and also helped put on one of the first dance marathons on the radio. This marathon would go on to be very popular as it featured over 4,000 couples and would last for six months. It even featured the legendary comedian Red Skelton as the MC. Goldman also started the first full-hour amateur program on radio, but even with all the success that he has already gathered at the station, it was not enough to keep him staying in Atlanta.
“I worked with a fellow that went to school with me at Oglethorpe and would work with me at the radio station,” Goldman said. “He was really good friends with Charles Manship (LSU Communications School is named in his honor), who was the publishing editor of the Daily Advocate in Baton Rouge at the time. Manship bought a church that had a radio station and moved it to Baton Rouge. They needed somebody to run the radio station. They guy that I worked with was a broadcast engineer so Manship called him to manage the new station. He came to me and asked me if I was interested to be the assistant manager and announcer for the new station. I asked him if I was going to get paid. When he went to Baton Rouge and got ready for the radio station, he told me that he was going to pay me about $25 a week. I said that I would take the job and that’s how I got to Baton Rouge.”
The first radio station in Baton Rouge was called WJBO. At WJBO, Goldman used all the musical talent that LSU and its students had to offer as the station played live music during the weeknights and only records during the day. One of these talented musicians would go on to have a big impact on Paul Goldman’s life.
“I met my wife at the radio station,” Goldman said. “Her mother talked to her about coming to the radio station and auditioning because she could sing and dance. I didn’t notice her at first because I was originally dating another girl and just came through a serious relationship with another girl that was in Atlanta, but after the relationship with the other girl ended, I started dating my wife and the rest goes from there.”
It was his time in Baton Rouge that Goldman first got involved with football as a radio personality. Along with a LSU student who was originally from Atlanta named Edly Rodgers, they both were broadcasting LSU football games in 1935. That 1935 team would be one of the greatest teams in LSU’s storied football history. The legendary head coach Bernie Moore was in his first year coaching the Tigers and the team was led by two players that would later be inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in end Gaynell Tinsley and halfback Abe Mickal. That 1935 team won the school’s first conference championship and even tied the TCU Horned Frogs for the national championship, even though it was not claimed by the Tigers since they did lose to TCU in the Sugar Bowl, which featured NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Sammy Baugh. Goldman has plenty of memories being the color commentator for the Tigers’ home games including interviewing players, coaches, and even running from the field to the broadcasting booth on various occasions. He even explained why a very famous saying came about.
“I would broadcast the flipping of the coin on the field at the very beginning of the game and then would run up to the broadcasting booth after to do the color commentary,” Goldman said. “Well, one day, it rained all before the game and the field was very soggy. I was on the field doing what I usually did, and my boot got caught in the mud. I finally got my foot out, but the boot stayed in so I ran up to the booth with one boot on and one boot off. To this day, I don’t know what happened to the boot. People say that it never rains in Tiger Stadium. Well, it never rains during a game. When I was there, it rained before and after a game, but never during a game.”
That’s where that magical phrase that the chance of rain is never in Tiger Stadium. Not only did Goldman provide color commentary for football, but he did so for baseball as well. Goldman moved to Chicago for a short period of time as he got a job with the WIND radio station. For WIND, he would broadcast Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball games with a very legendary baseball announcer.
“I worked with a sports announcer named Russ Hodges, and we broadcast all the home games of the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox,” Goldman said. “We also went to Cincinnati that year and broadcast the very first Major League night baseball game.”
Goldman was promised to be the manager of the radio station, but the promise never went through and so he went back to Baton Rouge at WJBO to do the football games. Eventually after his time at WJBO, he moved on and kind of settled down. Goldman had a chance to become a manager at another radio station, but the guy, who offered him the job, never came through with the idea. It was during that time that Goldman got married and had kids. They moved to New York in order to get more money. However, he couldn’t get a job in radio. He did what his dad did when he couldn’t get a job in the broadcasting business and that was peddling. He peddled dinnerware during that time frame and at one point, quit the broadcasting business and became the sales promotion and advertising director at Sure-Fits Product Company. Goldman moved back to Baton Rouge when he realized that he couldn’t do that much else at Sure Fits. Finally, he got a call from the general manager of WSMB in New Orleans to manage a radio station in Alexandria. In 1951, it was a job offering in Monroe that proved to be the longest lasting job that Goldman ever had in his broadcasting career.
“I came to manage KNOE-AM on February 15, 1951,” Goldman said. “In 1952, I put KNOE-TV on the air, and became executive vice president and general manager of Noe Enterprises Inc. and kept that job until I retired on December 24, 1977.”
Paul Goldman helped bring TV to the Monroe area when he decided to open the T.V. station for the 1953 World Series. However, moments before the game, the cable connections would not be completed to show the first game. Somehow, the station got it done and it was a success. Goldman had a very successful broadcasting career as he gathered many awards and achievements including “Broadcaster of the Year” in 1975. On his 80th birthday in 1992, Secretary of State Fox McKeithen officially named August 13th “Paul Goldman Day in Louisiana” for his work in establishing Louisiana Public Education Broadcasting. Those awards and accomplishments are great, but what Goldman is most proud of is his work in the community. He was one of the first athletic boosters for Louisiana Monroe and donated a lot to the university to help what it is today. After his retirement from the business on that Christmas Eve in 1977, Paul Goldman has enjoyed his retirement with his family and friends even today.
“I am one of the few people that has lived in retirement longer than I did at work,” Goldman said. “I worked for 27 years and I have been retired for about 35 years.”
For a person like Goldman, who has basically accomplished everything that he wanted to do at the age of 65, there was plenty of time to sit back and relax. For Goldman, however, the key to a successful retirement is to treat retirement like people treat working.
“The key to a successful retirement is the key to anything that you do,” Goldman said. “Enjoy what you do. Have a positive attitude. Like people. Don’t criticize other people and what they do. Try to be nice to everybody like the way that you want to be treated. I try to live by the Golden Rule, which is what we should try to live by.”
That Golden Rule has been a major key to Goldman’s long life, which is still going strong today. Even though his wife has passed away, he still relies on his family to take care of him.
“My son Jim takes me around to everywhere that I need to go,” Goldman said. “Jim helps me in every way. I also have many grandchildren and great grandchildren that help me as well. If I don’t have my family, I don’t think that I would still be alive today.”
There are also the obvious physical keys to living a long and healthy life which are to exercise and eat right, but just as important it is to stay healthy physically, it is just as important to stay healthy mentally.
“I try to watch T.V. and read,” Goldman said. “I try watching the game shows and I try to beat the contestants so I stay sharp doing that. I also listen to the music that I grew up listening to like Lawrence Welk and others. I try to stay busy.”
That is some great advice from a wonderful man who has done everything in life. He has experienced historic events such as the the World Wars and the Great Depression. He has announced historical events such as Franklin D. Roosevelt running for president, the death of Huey P. Long, etc. He has been the color commentary announcer for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and the LSU Football Tigers. He has played many bands, orchestras, singers, and more. There was nothing that Paul Goldman could not do. He even has a holiday in Monroe named after him. Now how many people have that going for them? The Golden Rule as well as being healthy both mentally and physically are some of the key reasons to living a long life, but the most important element to living a long life is to simply enjoy life. There is no doubt that Paul Goldman has done that and is still going strong today.