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Gallant Attempts at Gallows Humor : Amid the Rubble on Wall Street, a Few Chuckles Could Be Heard

October 21, 1987|JIM SCHACHTER | Times Staff Writer

In elevators and hallways, on exchange floors and radio shows, Wall Street's massacre inspired gallant attempts to find humor amid the blood bath.

At lunch Tuesday, a Los Angeles stock market investor said he had called his broker with an urgent order. "Sell! Sell!" he shouted. "To whom? To whom?" the broker asked.

Downtown, a pension consultant saw a bright side to the debacle.

"We have a lot fewer over-funded retirement funds to worry about," she noted gamely.

Amid the frenzy on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange, an aide placidly answered the phone. "Why do you sound so calm?" she was asked. "Because I'm about to faint," she said.

George Lefferts, a manager at Equitable Financial Services in San Diego, told co-workers that he was taking the market's problems in stride.

"I slept like a baby last night," he said. "I woke up every hour and cried."

(He's probably sleeping better than his nephew, Craig Lefferts, the San Francisco relief pitcher whose dreams these nights may focus on how the Giants lost the National League pennant.)

In Boston, an investment adviser received some practical advice as she left the office after Monday's market collapse.

"Walk near the building," she was told. "And wear splatter-proof clothing."

Bill Tammeus, who writes a humor column for the Kansas City Star, offered his readers a few observations on the market Tuesday.

"We thought people were exaggerating by calling it Black Monday," he wrote. "But then we heard the Yankees had rehired Billy Martin."

Tammeus was dissatisfied with the euphemisms used to describe the Wall Street crash: "People who call Monday's disaster in the stock market a 'correction' probably also refer to the Korean War as a 'police action.' "

This afternoon, Tammeus plans to share his worries with the Kansas City paper's readers. "I knew the stock market was in trouble," this afternoon's column reads, "when I called my broker and got Dial-a-Prayer."

Elsewhere in Kansas City, market guru Joseph Granville--who was credited in 1981 with causing the New York Stock Exchange's then-biggest volume day ever with a "sell everything" signal--was offering a different kind of prediction Tuesday.

"Minnesota," he said, "in four games straight."

And finally, this joke was heard on the street:

What do you get when you cross an investment banker and a pig? Nothing. The pig won't stoop that low.

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