Chaos in world finance

October 24. The Wall Street Crash. In a matter of panic-stricken hours in the capital of American business-dealing, millions of shares became worthless.

Small investors fought with police as they struggled to sell their shares. On the day of the big crash in New York alone, 11 bankrupts committed suicide.

President Hoover had hoped that encouraging every citizen to invest in shares would bring the end of poverty. But the market became more like a casino than a reflection of the world's true economic state. Shares were wildly overvalued and when the loss of confidence came, the effects were horrifying.

Over the next months, millions of workers lost their jobs in the US and across Europe. Soup kitchens and breadlines became commonplace in once-prosperous cities.The hit song of the period was Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

In Germany, financial chaos was the spur that Adolf Hitler needed. Soon, he would be winning power in national elections. In Britain, the New York crash triggered the Depression. Docks and factories were soon lying idle, and two million men languishing on the dole.

ZeppelinAugust 29. An historic trip around the world was completed by the giant airship, Graf Zeppelin, which returned to Lakehurst, New Jersey, in triumph after girdling the earth in 21 days. The rigid dirigible left Lakehurst along with a crew of 37 and 16 passengers in the early hours of August 7 and made only three stops on her 19,500-mile trip around the world. She first went to her home base in Germany and then on to Tokyo before arriving in Los Angeles and finishing back at Lakehurst.

February 14. The infamous and bloody St Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago left seven men dead after they were lined up in front of a beerhouse wall in a side street and mown down with sub-machine guns. The killers were members of the Al Capone Mob which was defending its monopoly of the bootlegged liquor, extortion and prostitution business in the city. To put the victims off-guard, some of the mob wore police uniforms. The dead men were believed to be remnants of a mob led by George "Bugsy" Malone.

January 13. Wyatt Earp, the legendary marshall of Dodge City in the old West, died with his boots off - peacefully in his sleep at the age of 80.

Earp assumed the role of law enforcer after riding into the wild, lawless Kansas cattle town. And on top of his role of keeping law and order, the Marshall ran a very successful sideline - a cabaret and brothel. When the former gunfighter became marshall, he told the townsfolk: "I was hired to do the killing."

May 16. In a bid to give Hollywood more dignity the now world famous Academy Awards were born. The scheme was the brainchild of Louis B.Meyer of MGM fame who saw it as a way of attracting world attention to its products.

The first winners of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to give it its full title, were Frank Borzage and Janet Gaynor. The first gold-plated statuettes, of a naked man plunging a sword into a reel of film, were presented by the president, actor Douglas Fairbanks.


In brief

January 3. A Tipton Council employee, in court for rent arrears, was given the choice to either pay up or get the sack.

January 16. Following a row with Stalin, Nikolai Bukharin resigned as head of the Communist International in Moscow.

February 4. A five-mile long stretch of land near Hendon was approved as Britain's first area of "green belt".

February 6. A number of Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay resulted in the deaths of at least 30 people.

February 11. Wolverhampton was the cheapest town in the country to live in said a former local Chamber of Trade chief.

February 12. Lillie Langtry, the British actress and courtesan, died.

February 13. President Coolidge signed a bill to build 15 cruisers and an aircraft carrier in one of his last acts as president of the USA.

February 14. "Indecent behaviour" was given as the reason for banning singer, Jospehine Baker, from the stage in Munich.

February 28. Walsall Chamber of Commerce opposed the introduction of greyhound racing in the town because the working man was being diverted from his work by betting.

March 2. The Castle Bromwich Industrial Fair, attended by more than 100,00 visitors, was expected to generate 25,000 worth of orders.

March 28. Wolverhampton YWCA launched an appeal for 3,500 to help fund its move from Stafford Street to a new hostel in Penn Road.

July 31. The eastbound Atlantic crossing was made in a record four days, 14 hours and 30 minutes by the liner Bremen.

August 1. The venue for the world's first congress on radiotherapy was in Paris.