Stock Swindler Living Well

Westbrook Pegler

Richmond Times-Dispatch/January 4, 1937

FOR a long time your correspondent has been vaguely worried about Mr. Al Wiggin, the great New York banker of the Era of Beautiful Nonsense, and wondering whether anything had happened to him, because if anything should happen to Mr. Wiggin your correspondent would be deeply distressed not to hear all about it.

Now comes an acquaintance from Charleston, S.C., however, who reports that nothing has happened to Mr. Wiggin which would justify a national holiday or even mild individual rejoicing by persons whose savings were invested in the stock of his bank at the time that Mr. Wiggin himself was selling short about 60,000 shares for a profit of four and a half million dollars.

Mr. Wiggin has built a home for himself in a colony of economic royalists near Charleston known as the Yeamans Hall Club and, not to put a fair face on the news of him, he looks all right and seems to be his old self. He has plenty of money left from his short sales of the stock of his bank and the unloading of his B.M.T. when his position gave him to know that the subway was going to pass its dividend, and he has had no major vexations except the time the builder proposed to build a wall around his property according to the local custom. Mr, Wiggin objected to the wall, saying the place would look like a jail and, of course, anyone will understand his feeling about that. Who wants to live in a place that looks like a jail?

Not Even Tooth Trouble

“Do you mean to say Mr. Wiggin is well and happy?” your correspondent asked.

“Just fine,” said the gentleman from Charleston. “He doesn’t seem to have a thing on his conscience.”

“His what?”

“Conscience,” said the gentleman. “You know, the thing that tells you that you have done a dirty trick and makes you feel like a heel. He doesn’t seem to think he ever played the heel in all his life.”

“Hasn’t he even had trouble with his teeth?”

“No” said the gentleman from Charleston. “You want the truth and I am giving it to you. Al Wiggin looks just dandy and he doesn’t seem to have a worry in the world. If you can’t take it why do you bring up the subject?”

“What about friends?”

“Oh, I don’t know whether they are friends or not,” said the gentleman. “But people speak to him just the same as to anybody else. You can’t really tell who is a friend in this world. A lot of people thought Mr. Wiggin was their friend when he was selling short while bolstering the price of the stock with the bank’s own money in those pools as Ferd. Pecora showed that time in Washington. But friends or not, people speak to him and he can get a game of golf just like anybody else. After all, you must remember that Mr. Wiggin is a very rich man who never did anything unlawful. Whether he did anything wrong is another question, but he wasn’t even indicted much less convicted and the only comfort I can give you is to refer you to the record of the Senate investigation, where you can refresh your memory and decide for yourself whether he ever did anything wrong. And you can recall that they grabbed back the bank pension of $100,000 a year that he awarded himself, if that is any pleasure.”

“What about the people of Charleston? Aren’t they supposed to be very aloof, socially?”

“Well,” said the gentleman, “there isn’t much money around there these days and these economic royalists in their little colony are big spenders. One day they ordered the caterer to get several dozen lobsters for dinner the next night and he telephoned Bar Harbor and had them flown down in a special plane. All along the coast economic royalists are settling down in mansions and clubs on ground so poor that even the poorest people finally were starved out. That kind of money makes for tolerance.”

“Is this an exclusive club, this Yeamans Hall?”

“Well what would you say?” said the gentleman from South Carolina. “Al Wiggln belongs.”

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