The Great Depression
IN September of 1929 occurred an event which initiated for this country a political and social revolution. That event was the crash of a bull stock market which had been bid up to untenable heights by speculation with money borrowed on slender margins.
Securities were priced on the basis of future earnings which were so high as finally to reveal themselves as being fantastic. When reality succeeded fantasy, the market fell, margins were washed out and speculators were brankrupt. Protecting the loans threw millions of shares on the market, which deepened and intensified the crash. The speculators were only in small part experienced operators. Almost everyone had speculated. The elevator boy and the small merchant were ruined--it was so difficult to protect their margins on a fast-falling market that banks and private lenders found themselves in jeopardy. Some failed. Most were so weakened as to provide warrant (or excuse) for the Bank Holiday of 1933.
Our family was not caught in the crash. After years of prosperity we had saved money. Our investment had been in rebuilding and expanding the old farmhouse which had been occupied by the manager of Mrs. Hartness's farm. (That house is now known as "Smiley Manse." It had been built in 1811 for "Father" Smiley, the first settled Congregational preacher in town, and