Sara Kirschenbaum
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Reflections on a Recession/Depression

Posted Thursday, Apr 23rd, 2009 at 4:26pm

I have been working on editing my grandfather's several attempts at a writing a memoir about the island he bought in 1927. He gave up the life he was groomed for as a business man and lived with his wife and kids on an island, fishing and lobstering. I have about 215 pages - about 60 of which are handwritten. Everything is out of order and not one single essay is complete. There are at least five page ones and lots of strange pagination systems. I found this one-page fragment of reflections on the stock market crash of 1930. It seems relevant to our own age of excesses. Enjoy the wonderful work of my grandfather, Leonard Dankmar Weil! (I have left the text exactly as I found it - for now. I have not corrected spelling or punctuation. That will come later)

In those days the world was full of wealth-chasing by great multitudes of wealthy, and, whereas these chasers were convinced that the opportunities for wealth were unlimited and everlasting and open to all good Americans, they nonetheless increased the speed of their pursuit that they might crowd into each hour the largest quantity of wealth-searching units. Paper profits were the glory of the day. Citizens compounded those profits, leaving them proudly on paper as a monument, cashing few, saying as they earned more to pile more money into paper, “I can’t take my profits, because the tax is so great. I’ll leave them there.”

Grace and Leonard lay on the rocks watching gulls and sails and seeing the dark green patches on a clear blue where the small cumulous clouds blotted out the sun. Leonard at times felt the stigma placed on him by those who thought that he should be working at such honored toil as buying commodities cheaply and selling them at a profit, or forcing money on people who did not wish to borrow it that he might sell the lien to persons who were searching for a place to put accumulated earnings. But as he felt the twinges of these memories of the outer world he combated them with a strong dose of revolt-preaching. They would call him a slacker on shore. Well. What were [ ] coffers? Padders after a mirage, who if they looked around, could find the reality so near that they could sit upon it if they chose.

He had leisure to think about the scramble from which he had somehow extricated himself, and the more he though of it the more pleased he was with their decision. The world in that bloated era had been a hysterical place, and they were well rid of it, he said to Grace. He did not wish to enter it to amass great wealth; he should make use of what sums they had. We would buy the Island and live comparative frugaitly. Why swink like Capek’s Manure Beetle to amass a huge symbol to use, if at all, at a time when they had lost many of the energies for enjoyment.

These discussions in the sunlight warmed them. Their verbal backpattings the castigation of the unseen assailant, the retorts to unheard hecklers were joyous warm day sports. Let the accusers shout: why have you quit working in an office

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