Jake Goodman



Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO
Friday, August 19, 1938

Jake Goodman, one of the pioneer business men of this district, told [his life story to] the Lions Club Wednesday. There are a lot of people in this country and a great many scattered over the world, who would not think Jake could make a speech. He did, though. His talk was one of the most interesting ever made in these parts. It would do anyone good to hear it, especially the boys and girls of today who think that opportunity no longer exists.

Mr. Goodman started in by telling some of the hardships endured in Europe and how he was smuggled out of the army in a girl's dress. The story of his crossing the frontier into Germany and the difficulties he had in getting to this country was a drama. When he finally got out of the army and had a ticket to this country, it was found the ticket had been issued to a female -- that's the way he left the army. It took him six weeks to get matters straight and get on his way.

1896 was a good many years ago, but that's when Jake landed in this country. Just in time to find the people in a big argument over the money question. Jake said he heard in Europe that there was plenty of gold in this country and he thought it would be a good idea for him to try to get his share. However, after landing in New York he was disappointed, he said, to find that the gold was still in the mines and that he would have to dig for his share. By trade, Jake is a baker. By instinct, he is a financier. He made a lot of acquaintances over the country as a matter of necessity. Things did not go so well in New York, but he managed to get to Wisconsin where he got a job on a farm at fifty cents a week and board. That's where he learned how to plow and milk cows.

There were some enterprising boys in those parts and they took Jake to Chicago where he did some pinch hitting as a baker. When he got his first pay check there, it was for $7.50 and he demanded an explanation from the book-keeper and the boss. He really thought they were paying him a month or so in advance, but was told that was his weekly pay and it was very soon raised to thirty dollars a week.

A later date found Jake in Texas and he again did some pinch hitting for a baker who was off the job because of illness. On that date he had twenty cents in his pocket and had to pay a dollar in advance for his board. He finally raked up the dollar and some addition, so the boarding house mistress was not out on a limb for Jake's board. Again he met up with some enterprising fellows and went to Vera Cruz, Old Mexico, where he sold various wares at a profit under the tutorship of the boss.

In Old Mexico it is an asset if you can speak their language. Jake learned to speak a little of all languages and begin to figure that he could do better on his own hook than under a boss. So he started out. The job was that of selling pictures. Under the boss he made a thousand dollars and used a part of the sum to obtain credit for more pictures in this country. Without going through the red tape of paying custom duty at the border, he gave the customs officer a picture and left the country when one of the customary revolutions came along, which made it somewhat inconvenient to do business. Jake left his stock there with all traveling equipment and landed back in Texas with something like ten thousand dollars.

After many years of valuable experience, Jake came to Leadwood on a visit, or rather to Desloge, to visit I. W. Miller, who at the time was one of the leading merchants of this county. That was in in 1907.

From then on, Mr. Goodman remained in business only to find himself busted three or four times and back on top each time. He made a young fortune in Leadwood by hard work and with the assistance of his good wife, in spite of all the hardships and set backs he experienced. The depression and general business slump cost him a young fortune, but he is still going. A wonderful speech he made.