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The Globe and Mail

Black Monday the 'worst hangover ever' for Globe readers

A trader on the floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange on Black Monday.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Glenn Hyde remembers exactly what he was doing 25 years ago, when Black Monday hit stock markets worldwide.

For a couple of months, he had been feeling uneasy about his stock holdings. By the week of the crash, he was ready to pull out completely.

"I remember that on that Wednesday, I called my broker and I said, 'Why don't we just sell out of everything and go to cash and then we can edge back in later?' He talked me out of it because I was naive and inexperienced," Mr. Hyde said.

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"So, here comes Thursday and the downslide starts, and I said, 'Damn! I should have followed my instincts, but maybe it will come back.' Famous last words."

Mr. Hyde, who had borrowed to invest, sold out on Monday and Tuesday at what he calls "firesale prices," losing about $12,000 of the $20,000 he had borrowed.

Despite his losses that day, he's not bitter. "All said and done, it was a very valuable lesson."

The Globe and Mail recently asked readers to submit their memories of Black Monday. We've compiled excerpts from some of the best stories we received:

"I was 24, working as a sales assistant with Wood Gundy in Toronto. I had just returned from a seven-day vacation to encounter utter chaos in the markets. The phone was ringing off the hook. Several clients couldn't even get through to us. No e-mail or Internet in those days! We couldn't wait for 4:00 p.m. for the carnage to stop. The next day was the worst hangover ever." -- Johanne, 49, Toronto

"I was working at the Institute of Canadian Bankers in the Exchange Tower at First Canadian Place in Toronto. I often went down to watch the activity on the floor of the TSE. It was pandemonium on that day. On my way back to my office, I met Bob MacIntosh who was the president of the CBA and mentioned what was going on and he immediately went in to his office behind a closed door!" -- Bob Wood, 61, Kingston, Ont.

"I was  in the Caribbean on holiday from my bank trading job, having left Friday at 11 a.m. I went to turn over a face-down Wall Street Journal midday. My wife tapped my shoulder and said no. I found out the world almost ended on Wednesday, when I finally turned the radio on!" -- Robert, 55, Toronto

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"I had recently borrowed a significant amount of money and invested it in stocks. That day I learned that leverage was a double-edged sword. I sat in my office thankful that my Nortel job and pension were safe." -- D. Copleston, 66, Victoria

"I was sooo lucky. I was travelling and before I left my broker had urged me to sell my positions as he would not be able to get in contact with me. Except for a few small holdings, I missed the plunge by a day! He sure earned his commission." -- Bob, 61, Toronto

"My wife and I got married on Oct. 17, 1987, and were blissfully celebrating our brief honeymoon in a remote spot outside Ottawa. We thought during that weekend that our upcoming life together would be wine and roses, as we were financially secure and had reasonable RRSP savings. Needless to say, listening to or watching media was not our high priority at that time. We decided to drive into Ottawa on Monday, just into the afternoon, and learned from the car radio that our financial security had been set back some!" -- Patrick Wieshlow, 59, Ottawa

"I borrowed $10,000 and bought Barrick Gold two days later, after finally being able to speak to my broker, selling it two to three weeks later. My profit supported me for a full year of university expenses." -- Larry, 50, Toronto

"I'd just sent an economic forecast I produced for Canada Trust off to the printer. The market crash was such a shock, it took a while to realize I'd better call the printer and "stop the presses!" -- Dave Dineen, 56, Stratford, Ont.

"I was actually in university and I had no money, so I was not affected. It was the only time I recall being thankful I was broke!" -- Gus, Moncton, N.B.

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"I was hit by a car biking that morning... So, technically, I crashed before the stock market did that day." -- B. Jones, 49, Cambridge, Ont.

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