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Month: September 2016

The Scarlett Letter

When the young woman -the mother of this child- stood fully revealed before the crowd, it seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress. In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around her townspeople and her neighbors. p. 479

The youthful woman described in the paragraph is repeatedly portrayed as vulnerable, helpless even. She’s described as “fully revealed before the crowd” as though she may be bared naked before the mob of townspeople. Her grip of her child, which was clarified to be hers, despite her almost childlike portrayal, is a jerk movement in an attempt to cover herself. Yet what she wishes most to conceal is the letter on her dress. However, the apparent correlation of the two ceases her attempt. The moment following is an important transition, the cautious, yet naive young woman clearly realizes that no option available will keep her from the eyes of her spectators. In this moment, she decides as one might say to “fake it till you make it” and put on a brazen grin, letter, baby and all stands with as much composure and poise as she can muster to face her witnesses.

An American Artifact

 

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The serial code displays a letter ‘F’ on the right side, which was key to discovering the production date.

It was the late 1930’s, my grandfather strolled into the cozy living room of his grandparents home on Locust Drive in Rochester, New York. His grandmother, fondly called “Nanny” firmly established she would listen to her music until the Rochester Red Wings game was scheduled to start, they were my great-great-grandfather “Gaga’s” favorite. Their home, next to the Stromburg Radio was the home of the Victrola music machine for many years.

It was surprisingly simple to uncover the production date of this specific Victrola. The serial number began with the letter F, which quickly narrowed the search to 1914 or 1915. Then I found a production record that showed models from early 1915 that were being produced will small decorative feet. Ours is without feet, meaning it is a 1914 model, and 102 years old.

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A portion of the production data from the Victor-Victrola Page

Despite the age, it is still functioning perfectly. The record player was a staple in my family’s community back then, it was one of the first common technological advances that brought people together. Technology in our homes would continue to advance and further connect us, telephones to bring us together when we traveled and televisions and movies that gave initiates a bond through common sources of entertainment.

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The Victor-Victrola Talking Machine began production in 1911, and continued for fifteen years until 1926. There were an estimated 570,000 machines produced in mahogany and oak. The buy price was originally set at $50, however after a new market line was released it was raised to $75.

 

Sources:

“The Victor-Victrola Page.” Victor-Victrola, www.victor-victrola.com/IX.htm.
Accessed 8 Sept. 2016.

(And my grandfather, Richard L. Booth Sr!)

Black Monday – Interview with Rich Booth

 

October 19th of 1987, marked the largest one-day market drop in the course of history. Nicknamed “Black Monday” as stocks plummeted which had previously ridden on the tailcoats of the 1982 bull market. Starting in Asia, the collapse was at America’s doorsteps by the opening bell. The Dow Jones dropped a record 22% and sell orders quickly surpassed those for buyers. Rich Booth was an options trader working on the equity trading floor for EF Hutton in midtown Manhatten when the market began to unravel into a state of chaotic losses for the following week.

“Well I remember getting on the subway and riding the train home to Connecticut and I remember everybody looked really grey, and it didn’t seem like anybody talked to each other. It was a very gloomy time. I also remember the stock of the company that I worked for, EF Hutton, a
lot of people thought that we were going out of business. And the stock traded, I think in 1986 it was trading in the fifties and I think at one point in the crash it was trading at 6 dollars.”

Many influences were accredited with the blame for causing the crash, including a false sense of security generated by portfolio insurance, foreign affairs and an increase in international investors. Although longterm solutions were eventually created to prevent similar causes in the future, Mr. Booth believed the aggressive decision making made by the Federal Reserve and central government helped avoid the longterm negative impacts such as those that followed the crash of the 1920’s. During the week of Black Monday, job losses and bankruptcies were wide spread and adding to the fear in investors. Yet the devastating losses were curbed to avoid a recession of long term negative effects.

“I think it was pretty aggressive action by the central bank and by the US government to reassure investors and to back companies that were trading securities, you know specialists down on the floor. I think the first couples days after the crash most of those guys were bankrupt and I think the banks lent them money that so that they could buy stocks, cause people were afraid, they were losing, you know some people were just panicking and selling. So because they were able to borrow some money some of these specialist firms were able to buy stocks, kind of stay in business and then when the stocks started going back up they sold them out. They all had losses, but not as bad as it could have been.”

The video below aired the week of the crash, and in conversation afterwards, Mr. Booth stated that he remembered seeing this on the news and calling his worried mother saying that “he felt better now”.

 

Further Reading:

1987 Stock Market Crash Chart

 

 

25 Years Later: In the Crash of 1987, the Seeds of the Great Recession

 

Sources:

Bernhardt, Donald, and Marshall Eckblad. “Black Monday: The Stock Market Crash
of 1987.” Federal Reserve History, edited by Alan Greenspan, Federal
Reserve Bank of Chicago, www.federalreservehistory.org/Events/DetailView/
48. Accessed 5 Sept. 2016.

Colombo, Jesse. “Black Monday – The Stock Market Crash of 1987.” The Bubble,
www.thebubblebubble.com/1987-crash/. Accessed 5 Sept. 2016.

Itskevich, Jennifer. “http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/895.” History News
Network, historynewsnetwork.org/article/895. Accessed 5 Sept. 2016.

Turner’s Frontier Thesis: An Exploration

Turner’s Frontier Thesis gives us imagery of a wild, primitive expanse that strips those who enter of all frivolity or levity, and leaves the brave soul with solely two options: adapt or perish. In Train Dreams, Granier’s logging captain is living proof a surviving and thriving American man forged through desperation. He lost his whole family to influenza, thirteen siblings gone in a week. Nonetheless, he represents a model frontier citizen: a strong, fair leader, who doesn’t complain, and keeps to himself and his son Harold. Turner poses and explores a question of the effect following the loss of the western frontier, a critical piece to American identity. However, in River of Shadows we are introduced to an Industrial Revolution where “speed becomes efficiency: time is money.” (180) After laying the floor of the foundational frontier, America searches for bigger, better, and bankable in all facets.