The Oddity of October

Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan (“Jackie”) was a “Wall Street Journal” heiress. She was a friend of mine. Except for her personal belongings like race horses, a house on the links at Palm Springs and her home in the mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico, her entire wealth was in a trust that held “Wall Street Journal” stock.

Jackie didn’t know much about the stock market, or care about its machinations, but she was sensitive to October. She knew that in some Octobers past her trust, “WSJ” stock, had lost as much as twenty or thirty million dollars in a day or week. There was “Black Friday” in 1987 and “Black Week” in 2008, when the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 percent in eight consecutive sessions — all happened in October. In 1989, a lesser-known, “mini-crash” took place October 13, another “mini-crash” occurred in October 1997.

To Jackie, it was spooky how things happened in October, so spooky that she would contact her California psychic for an appointment to see what to expect. I would hear her say on occasion, “Oh, oh! here it comes, again, October”. I would try to comfort her by pointing out that there has been as many crashes in September, perhaps more, as in October. My protestation was of little comfort.

Jackie had ever reason to see October as mystic, however. Clarence Barron, who bought the “Wall Street Journal” from Charles Dow died in 1928, leaving the “Journal” to Jackie’s father-in-law, Hugh Bancroft, whom she never knew. In 1929, the market totally crashed, almost taking the “Wall Street Journal” with it. As a result, Hugh Bancroft took his own life in 1933. Fifty years later, 1953, his son, Hugh Bancroft, JR., Jackie’s first husband, died an early death. Everyone of these events happened in October.  —  Jackie would have been quite happy with an eleven month year, doing away with the month of October.

I have written about Jackie and her life in my book:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”

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