other thoughts

Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith

[Today’s run: 3.2 miles]

I had blood donation on Monday evening, so my run today was a bit slow. But we got it done!

I have a memory that is somewhat disconnected. In 5th grade we had a segment in school on money and investing. Somehow each kid was supplied with a checkbook with a few checks in it and a ledger. I think we each had a pretend balance of $2,000. We were taught how to read the stock market reports in the newspaper, how to write checks, and how to balance our checkbook. It didn’t take long for me to see that I am not good at picking stocks. Also it was evident that transaction costs can quickly eat up any gains. We had a weekly stock day when we took time to find the value of our portfolio and could do some buying and selling.

I believe it was at this time that we had a field trip to some banks and investment offices. This is the part I am disconnected about. I remember the title Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, whose offices we visited. Fifth grade for me would have been 1972-1973 and the firm had that name during that time.

My memory is being down in the bowels of some bank, or possibly that Merrill Lynch office, and they showed us a $10,000 bill with the picture of Salmon P Chase on it. I remember it was in some kind of plastic holder. They let us touch it in the holder, but I don’t think our host ever let go.

Also I seem to remember some big computer installation. At that time it probably would have been an IBM mainframe. But there were other large systems in such roles as well, it might have been one of those.

Fifth grade was also when I had a fling with swearing. We had one kid in the class who could damn everything with gusto. I gave that a try but found I am too much of a literalist* to get much enjoyment out of it. And of course there was the issue of upholding a different pattern between school and home. So I decided that wasn’t my thing, although in later years, particularly with the antics of house dogs and cats, I have definitely felt the urge from time to time.

It does kind of seem more than coincidental, looking back, that stock market failure and swearing came to me in the same time frame.

— * I get some chuckles out of the old formulation son of a bitch. Basically they are saying someone’s mother is a dog, and hence that person is also a dog. But they use that form in nonsensical ways, like calling one’s own brother a son of a bitch. A lot of “friendly fire” so to speak. Now days such a form is completely passe’ . Not only are more drastic wordings employed, but dogs themselves are venerated with people talking about their “fur babies”, even my dear wife saying “grand pups” referring to our son’s pets.

2 replies on “Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith”

Okay this is a bit of a coincidence. When _I_ was in the 5th grade (okay, it could have been 6th grade) I bet Clifford Beauvais that I could go the whole year without swearing. I think the amount was 50 cents. I won and he never paid. He later died at age 14. I think he fell from a high voltage transmission tower along the railroad tracks around Fairview Drive next to Four Mile Creek.

I have plenty of bad habits, but swearing isn’t one of them. Not that it matters.

Around 70 million people voted for someone to be president who used profane trash talk about women (predatory, demeaning, and vile) and it was recorded for all to hear with their own ears. He later explained that it was locker room talk, implying it is normal for people to talk that way. They voted for him twice. Cleary, to these folks it is literally presidential, which I think is a severe permanent blemish on the character of the nation.

I was one of the winners in the stock market thing in the 6th grade (not 5th), 1976, and went out for free pizza, which was embarrassing as I had injured myself with a garden harrow pulled by a red Wheelhorse tractor not long before in a manner that made it challenging to sit down. It was only pure luck that I did well in that the nature of the exercise was to trade and not hold long – Nabisco. I can’t recall specifics but looked at NYT archive December 1976 and saw it at 50 with low for the year of 36 (March was 36, late May 40). I would call brokerages for the price in the afternoon. I do not know why it went up so much that year.

We agree about the former (and possibly returning) swearer in chief. I’m afraid the bad language boat sailed long ago. It seemed to really speed up (to me) when cable and satellite television became popular, HBO and all of that. Sex, violence and bad language.

Sorry to hear about your friend Clifford.

I remember the harrow incident. I was down in the garden with other folks that day. I remember seeing Dad literally run to the house. He moved pretty fast! To this day I don’t know how you escaped total perforation.

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