Industrial Harvest

All in the Family by sarah kavage
I just found out that I’m not the first person in our family to be involved with the Board of Trade.  I recently got an email from my Dad’s cousin Ted, who was a runner at the Board of Trade while going to college in Chicago back in the 60s.  I’m going to have to interrogate him further at some point, but for now here’s Ted, detailing a few vivid memories of those years in his own words (with a few edits for clarity): 

“I’ll bet you didn’t know this…I worked on that exchange for 2 years. I was a “runner” on the trading floor. The exchange was open from 9 to noon.  I went to school from 2 to 8.  It was a perfect part time job. I worked for Dean Whitter at the time.” 

“I used to ride the “L” from Logan Square to La Salle and Jackson…that was the Grain exchange stop.  At that time I was only getting 3 1/2 hrs sleep, what with working, going to DeVry, and other un-mentionable stuff.  I would fall asleep standing up on the “L.” There was not usually a problem of falling during the rapid stops between Logan Square and my stop.  The train cars were packed pretty tight in the morning and there was always somebody to land on.
On one occasion, I was really sleeping soundly in the back of the rail car and was unaware that the train passed my stop and most of the passengers cleared leaving no one to catch me.  As you might have guessed…the train hit the next stop and I slid face down over 1/2 the length of the car. So now what do I do…get up, dust myself off,  act like this happens on a regular basis and get off the train. I was just a little late for work that day.  When I put it together, I will write about getting tangled up in an old wooden revolving door.”

“I was on the trading floor when Kennedy was assassinated.  Was an interesting experience.  At that time they had 20 cent price stops on all the grains traded. It took about 10 minutes for all commodies to hit the stops after the shooting. Took abut 3 days to recover. It was an incredible panic. (Oh, a STOP was when trading stopped until the price came back up or down to the norm. The stops were reset every trading day…i.e. let’s say December wheat was selling for 230 a bushel and went to 250, then trading would stop.  The next trading day December wheat would start at 250 and could go to 270.  Probably more than you wanted to know).”

“Was the biggest legalized gambling hall I have ever seen.”