April marks the 40th anniversary of CBOE and the options industry. As part of our month-long anniversary celebration, we’ve invited the CBOE community to share their memories of CBOE and four decades of options trading. These are their stories…
Cool Hand Luke Comes to the CBOE
Back in the day, MU was one of the most active pits on the CBOE floor and I traded there. Even during busy times, there were occasional slow afternoons. I stood in the back of the pit next to a clerk named Barry. He was an energetic kid who was trying to work his way up to a trader position. He was also a budding entrepreneur who would try to make a buck anyway he could. Traders didn’t like to leave the floor when it was busy, so Barry might sell them water or oranges or beef jerky ( trader’s favorite) to keep them going.
One slow afternoon Barry looked a bit restless. Maybe he was low on cash for the weekend, who knows? All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I hear Barry blurt out,” I bet I could eat 7 Big Macs in 30 minutes”. The banter began – some thought he was crazy and a few thought it was possible. A market broke out!
The next thing I knew, I was Barry’s manager, more by design because I stood next to him. Barry could have quite a weekend if he could deliver. The rules were laid out. Barry had 30 minutes to eat 7 Big Macs, and had to hold them down. The stage was set. I helped Barry get mentally prepared. I was his George Kennedy, Paul Newman’s buddy and manager in Cool Hand Luke in the egg eating contest. Barry was pumped and ready to go.
We proceeded up to the members lounge above the trading floor to start the contest. Many traders (my guess was at least 100) converged on the members lounge to view this event. Others watching orders for customers stayed on the trading floor but hand signals kept them up to date. Barry started out splendidly and knocked out 4 Big Macs quickly without any problem. He got a little cocky and overconfident, I was getting giddy myself. I thought he was going to pull it off. But suddenly the fifth and sixth burgers took a toll on him and his countenance changed dramatically. This confident fresh looking kid suddenly looked like someone with a bad case of the flu.
Alas, it wasn’t pretty! Barry lost! The traders quickly left the members lounge and went back to work. All that was left was Barry and a few of us trying to console him! As they used to say at the beginning of Wide World of Sports, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Oh how I miss those days.
DS former member
DJ Here from the Start
There are many great stories and memories that were created at the CBOE. My CBOE experiences actually begin in New York as an OTC options trader at Pershing.
It was 1972 and a young “turk” named Gary Knight came to New York, “offering” memberships on an Options Exchange in Chicago. We were intrigued to say the least, and wound up buying two “seats” for $10,000 each on what they called the CBOE.
I recall going to Chicago for a visit in late ’72 and taking the membership test with others, as well as my fellow N.Y. options dealer, Gary Leahy. The test was 25 questions on what we actually did for a living!! What’s a call? What’s a straddle??……Toughies like that!
Those days before the exchange opened were pure education and great experiences for us all…New York and Chicago alike. Many obstacles were overcome by people from both cities. There were many doubters, especially from the Put and Call Dealers Association, most of them closing down within a year of the CBOE’s first trade.
When my boss, one of the options guru’s of the 70’s Les Philblad was not in the office, I had the privilege to speak to many Board of Trade Commodity people about how and who traded OTC options. Some of these people included CBOT Chairman Ed O’Connor, first CBOE president Joe Sullivan, Wayne Lutheringshausen, Jim Huff, Paul McGuire and more. I couldn’t resist the opportunity, so I moved to Chicago in Jan. ’74 to be in the middle of the floor action….the old CBOT smokers lounge, and yes, we could actually smoke on the floor. And who could forget the annual, as well as Christmas parties at the Midland and Blackstone, etc, etc.
The success of the CBOE brought many growing pains. Order flow, and the shear amount of paper orders, made us actually halt trading once and awhile, and that was just trading calls!! The growth necessitated a new floor, so steel girders were hung right through the CBOT trading floor over a weekend!! Only in Chicago!
Back in the volatile (we didn’t use that word then) April ’78 market, we actually wore paper signs on our back so runners would know which broker to hand the “IBM July 180’s”!!! Out trades were scary, but our trade checkers and operations people kept us in line. We all learned how to better trade, handle the paper, automate and refine clearing to what it has become today. You couldn’t have received a better education anywhere, than from working at the CBOE!
Happy birthday CBOE..Thanks for the memories.
On a slow day if we were lucky enough to receive a mis-dialed phone call we would try to spread the fun around a bit. If possible we would see how often we could make the person call back, giving other phone numbers to other lines or other firm booths in the area.
We had one record breaking call. The caller was looking for “silver bells”, I told her we only had brass bells but try this other number. The next person answers and says “no we only have ceramic bells” and directs the caller to another number where the types of bells just changed. She followed re-directon at least 6 or 7 times until we got too outlandish.
D.S. Firm Employee 1981-1994 CBOE Employee 2003 – Present
Second Door on the Right…
Sometime not knowing the lay of the land can be embarrassing. For the first month of my employment, I’d board the elevator and head for home. I’m one for holding the elevator if people are on their way rather than letting the doors shut on someone, but somehow none of the men wanted to climb aboard “my” elevator. It wasn’t until I commented to someone about the situation that they pointed to the right and let me know that these men were headed for the mens room.
Where Did We Park the Yugo?
I joined the CBOE in 1997. Internet accesses were so rarely offered, an approving process was needed for each user.
Y2K made everyone so nervous, the CBOE paid us to live in a hotel downtown for New Year Eve, 2000.
One of CBOE Unix servers had such a limited capability size and performance wise, we called it YUGO, similar as the subcompact vehicle built by Zastava corporation with bad reputation.
June of ‘73 Until Now – It’s Been a Long Journey
I remember the first trading floor of CBOE, it was the cafeteria of the CBOT. What a small room it was, and there were switchboard operators there too. There was a fella that worked there too that was known as “Bernard the guard”, what a character he was.
I was hired in June of 1973 as a runner for the CBOE, it was there that I met my husband, Thomas Krupa (TMK), a member trading in Texas Instruments. I later worked as a (BBTO) Board Broker Terminal Operator, with Elliott Mirman. I only worked until October of 1974, before the CBOE moved to the trading floor built above the CBOT trading floor. I married Tom in December of 1974, and stayed home to raise our family.
We enjoyed many anniversary celebrations, the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, which I remember being held at the Field Museum. Black tie, very elegant. There were celebrations for the new trading floor opening’s, as CBOE was getting bigger and better. Alas, my husband passed in Nov. 1996, and I was once again hired by CBOE in Jan. 1997, as a receptionist. I mainly worked at the 4th floor reception desk and was known as the “voice of CBOE”, because I made announcements every morning over a PA system to the trading floor, I later moved to the Office Services department. Life moves on and I have remarried. I have watched and seen many changes with CBOE growing bigger and better.
It’s 5:00 p.m. Somewhere
I remember after the close on Friday many firm and CBOE staff would disperse to the different pubs in the area. Broker’s Inn, Trade Inn, Sign of the Trader or the Red Baron. The late ‘80s added Savoy, Jesse Livermore’s and Arthur Cutten’s to the mix, and of course there was always Cal’s, the Skyride and the Alcock’s bars. I remember that the local bars had a banner day when trading was halted for the day due to Hurricane Gloria.
Be sure to visit the CBOE 40 hub daily as new CBOE Memories stories will be added throughout the month.