Tom McCormick, stock sales clerk, 1929
Trinity and Greenwich, between them on James Street, they had these little red-brick buildings, old buildings… There was a speakeasy in there. You’d walk in. It was up one flight. And he had a couple of desks, one desk… the dust was that thick on them. And in the back he made his gin. You know, bathtub gin. I was only a kid at the time and I was working on doing bookkeeping with these two older fellows, bookkeepers. So every night they’d send me over there with a dollar, to get a fifth of gin. I’d go over, walk in. “What do you want?” “Fifth of gin.” “What do you want, Gilbeys or some…” Didn’t matter what. Just put any label, any label you ask, it was the same gin. This I’d bring back. These two fellows I worked with. One of them was a graduate of Rutgers and the other one was a graduate of Fordham. And they had been football players, they were big, heavy…. they’d be sitting in the front office with their feet up and they’d be drinking the gin. And the other kid and I, we’d be out there doing the bookkeeping. Writing up the books…
These blotters that they used to send down to the clearinghouse, night clearing. If the handwriting wasn’t very legible, real good — in fact, they took the best hand writer to write them up — they’d turn around and send it back to you. And they’d fine you. They would fine you for writing it wrong. If you’d have made a mistake, one of the figures, five dollar fine. You got your sheet and you had to balance your sheet at the end of the day and send it down to them and they’d take all these sheets from all the houses, put them together and they’d pair off all the trades. So in other words, if you sold 500 shares of Telephone and you bought 400, you know, on the buy side, you would be delivering 100, they paired them all off, four against the five. So you were selling one. That was … how could I put it? That was like the computer we have today. Cutting down on the work.
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