Where’s Waldo?

When positive economic reports from something called the Beige Book circulated this week, I was reminded of The Lumbermen’s Red Book. The offer of this book formed the defining moment of a standard welcome for any new phone jockey, aka lumber trader (“Here’s your desk, here’s your phone, best of luck you’re on your own”). What really happened to the Red Book anyway?  These days it seems lumber traders have a better chance of finding Waldo than searching out where it disappeared to.

As the story goes, it was a Monday morning, in late 2007, when industry awoke to discover the lone source of vital credit information for all U.S. lumber dealers since 1876 had simply vanished. An unsolved mystery to be sure. And if several private investigators reportedly couldn’t get answers (or refunds!), it’s no surprise numerous lunch hour attempts to follow leads this week so far have all met dead ends. One inquiry did reveal that employees of the association, who turned up to an empty office in Chicago that fateful Monday, were similarly left in limbo. Perhaps not coincidentally, the association changed their payment schedule from quarterly to semi-annually and collected dues shortly before pulling a Casper.

While the trail may have gone cold, turns out the old Red Book domain lumbermenscredit.com is alive and well – in fact a Japanese company has seized the opportunity to target lumbermen, promoting a tonic guaranteed to grow your hair back (evidently requiring a microscope to find evidence) here.

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