Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

Dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value, and laughter;  a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place.

 

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Kim Zussman

10/10/04
Breakfast With Morrie

Uncle Morrie used to visit and stay the night with our young family in the 1960s. Unwaveringly kind and soft-spoken, with bright eyes set deep behind thick lenses and a quick smile, he would always ask, "what are you studying?". Each visit he would offer a soft hand in fudged defeat at Indian-wrestling.

Once after he stayed the night I cooked him an egg for breakfast, "sunny-side up" he smiled. Some white bubbled over the yolk, and I thought for sure I'd ruined the egg. But Morrie quickly explained this was how eggs were made "basted" in fancy restaurants, and how my seeming accident was an achievement. Awe to this day for a man never married who had such an honest appreciation for others, even the little efforts of children.

Yet this was not his only gift. Father used to tease that if he should pass, mother should marry Morrie..."the only one I could trust to take care of you..". Though about the same age as dad, I noticed Morrie did not work. After one sleepover, on the bed-stand he left a neatly folded copy of a strange newspaper filled with lists of undecipherable numbers and fractions - the Wall Street Journal. Why would anyone read this? Later heard mother faintly scolding father, "he made his fortune in stocks", when I learned why Morrie did not work. Evidently he had been an accountant with a manufacturing company who invested with great success in lieu of dependents to leave the working world.

Now I can read his paper and wonder how much better he understood it. Ever short of the scientist he encouraged me to be, I notice today there are plentiful means to wonder if Morrie's success was born of serendipity in the bull of the early '60s. Perhaps as well these tools are a boy's treasure-map of humble millionaires and the warm memories of ten thousand kindly gentlemen.