A column turns 19 years old, and its birth is fondly recalled

The Ticker

February 21, 1996|By Julius Westheimer

I WAS SO excited I couldn't finish lunch.

The late Philip Heisler, who was then managing editor of The Evening Sun, was reading intently at the Center Club when he slowly looked up, took another bite of shad roe and asked, "When can you start?"

It was mid-February 1977. Voice trembling, I ventured, "Phil, I realize weekend financial news is scarce, but your Monday evening business page is dull. I think I can pep it up with a column called 'The Monday Ticker.' "

"Tell me what's in it, I'd have to see samples," he replied, whereupon I pulled two drafts from my briefcase, which he studied carefully.

After he asked, "When can you start?," I quickly blurted, "Next Monday!" And he commanded, "Start!"

And so, on Monday, Feb. 22, 1977 -- 19 years ago tomorrow, with the Dow Jones average standing at 939.26 -- Ticker began to tick. Today, about 2,000 columns and 2.1 million words later -- Ticker quickly expanded to twice a week -- we light our 19th birthday candle.

Many thanks to all our readers for your continuing loyalty.

LOOKING BACK: When Ticker first ticked, Jimmy Carter had just been inaugurated, The Sun cost 15 cents, gasoline was 59 cents a gallon and heating oil was 46 cents, a package of three Titleist golf balls was $1.29 and a jumbo dry martini at the Belvedere's Owl Bar cost $1.25.

As of last weekend the Dow Jones average had gained about 485 percent since our debut -- an average annual 25 percent gain. If the Dow continues at that pace (not likely), the index will stand over 30,000 in mid-February, 2015.

MIDWINTER MEMOS: "To get direct deposit of your tax refund, file Form 8888 with your return. The IRS sends money to your bank, reducing waiting time about a week." (U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 19.)

This week's (Feb. 19) Barron's includes T. Rowe Price Associates stock under "21 Companies Warren Buffett Would Love."

"The average CEO works 12 hours a day, only three on a computer," (INC, Feb.)

TAX TIP: "Don't deduct more than 44 percent of your adjusted gross income without an explanation. About 90 percent of audits are triggered by large deductions." ("How to Beat the IRS at Its Own Game" by Amir Aczel.)

MONEY-SAVER: "Starting in April, automatic teller machine (ATM) fees are headed higher, possibly doubling or tripling.

"To keep costs down, make fewer trips (the average person uses ATMs twice a week) and use ATM card for supermarket, gas station, fast-food purchases -- fees generally less than proposed ATM charges." (Smart Money, Feb.)

WHAT YOU THINK: More comments from your contest entries:

"Democrats to control Congress, Clinton will be re-elected, both sending stocks lower. I predict year-end Dow Jones 5,684." (Kim Kordon)

"Buildup of debt at every level is a ticking time bomb. Year will end at DJ 1,400." (Henry Schwartz)

"I averaged some experts, added 24 percent for my optimistic vibes and came up with 7,402." (Joan Arsenault)

MARYLAND MEMOS: Bank Rate Monitor says, "Baltimore average annual one-year CD yield is 4.95 percent."

Maryland is under "Three States Where People Pay Highest Bank Service Fees," in Interest Research Group study.

Baltimore-based PHH Corp. is listed under "Selected Issues" in Financial World, Feb. 26.

Black & Decker appears fourth from the top under "Industrial Equipment: Where Companies Rank" in Fortune, March 4.

Toy Traders, Chevy Chase (recycled toys), is described under "Opportunity Watch in Franchise News" in Entrepreneur, Feb.

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