The excerpts from the Jim Ledbetter-edited Diary of the Great Depression continue to be riveting:
October 14, 1931. Last night’s paper reports the closing of eight banks in West Virginia and Philadelphia. Also that the 14 banks in Atlantic City have been combined into four banks. Also that the government bank aid plan is not going so good because the stronger banks do not want to guarantee the weaker. The proposed capital has been cut from $500 million to $100 million.
Stocks are on the way down again.
October 15, 1931. Great excitement in Youngstown. It finally happened here. The Dollar Savings & Trust Co, The City Trust, and the 1st National Banks all fail to open for business this morning. This leaves only the Mahoning Bank and The Commercial open for business. Both of them are besieged by depositors seeking to withdraw their deposits. I do not see how it can last. The town is panic-stricken and the streets are crowded with people excitedly discussing the situation. I was aroused this morning at 4 a.m. by newsboys shouting Xtras. It still seems like a bad dream.
October 15, 1931 2 p.m. Banks in the small towns around Youngstown are either closing their doors or refusing to permit withdrawals except for emergency use.
Several of the wealthiest families in Youngstown had all their funds invested in local bank stocks or in the local steel mills. With these investments almost worthless and with double liability attached to the bank stocks they are wiped out.