Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jehovah, a wrathful god....?

For those of us who like to think that History, while maybe not
exactly repeating itself, does have a certain sense of rhythm,
comes this beauty from Fred Schwed's 1940 classic, Where Are
the Customer's Yachts?

     The good old days of the twenties are gone, no doubt
forever.  If this conclusion sees too tragic, ask yourself a
couple of questions:
            1.   Are you quite sure that you would care to see all
                 those people who had big money have it again?
            2.  Just how grand was the grandeur that was Rome,
                at its grandest?
     In the later twenties there was very little poverty, at least
among the white collar and stiff-collar classes, and that was
dandy.  There was also very little grace, taste, or humility. 
We had practically achieved the goal of a chicken in every
pot, and were well launched toward a loftier cultural
achievement.  This was a hangover every Sunday morning for
everyone, obtained at the country-club dance the evening
before.  Then, after a brisk Bromo-Seltzer, out into the great
outdoors to play golf (originally a Scotch game), for fifty
dollars a hole, with carryovers.
     In 1929, there was a luxurious club car which ran each
week-day morning into the Pennsylvania Station.....Near the
door there was placed a silver bowl with a quantity of nickels
in it.  Those who needed a nickel in change for the subway
ride downtown took one.  They were not expected to put
anything back in exchange; this was not money - it was one
of those minor conveniences like a quill toothpick for which
nothing is charged.  It was only five cents.
     There have been many explanations of the sudden debacle
of October, 1929.  The explanation I prefer is that the eye of
Jehovah, a wrathful god, happened to chance in October
upon that bowl.  In sudden understandable annoyance,
Jehovah kicked over the financial structure of the United
States, and thus saw to it that the bowl of free nickels
disappeared forever.

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