Tuesday 12 December 2017

Eleanor McGrath: Most girls wanted a Barbie for their 10th birthday ... all I wanted was a shares certificate. And I got it too

Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange .
Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange .

TO say I idolised my Dad might be too strong a word, but truly when I was nine he really could do no wrong. As I approached my tenth birthday, the year was 1975 and I was an avid reader of Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail. Possibly it was because I was interested, but more likely it was because every morning I could sit with my dad at breakfast and talk to him.

As I drew closer to the “double-digit” birthday there was a more important discussion for the breakfast table and that was what I wanted. It was not Barbies (my mother did not approve of these “breastie” dolls) nor an Easy Bake oven, I wanted for my 10th birthday Gold Stock, not any specific company -- it just had to be Gold. If it seems strange that a child wanted shares in a company, it was not foreign in my family as Dad belonged to a small group of individuals in Toronto who worked in Corporate Finance. He was an underwriter and would occasionally bring home “tombstones” outlining the achievements of the last deal when millions would be raised for companies to spend…for a ten year old, my dad was cool!

The day came, April 29th 1975 and I was so excited. For certain my cake was a Donald Duck cake as my mother and I had purchased on special order from the local bakery, but uncertain was my gift. When I opened the large Manila envelope and pulled out the share certificate it was not gold stock but the most practical shares for widows and children, Bell Canada Convertible-Preferreds. Looking back, I was rude. Dad tried to explain my gift from the research he had done and how one day they would be very handy for my university education but that was not good enough. Disappointment hung heavy in the air.

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