(Bloomberg) -- Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith turns 100 today. At least, she would have, if she was a standalone entity, and not a government-rescued Too Big to Fail entity, forced into a shotgun wedding with Bank of America.

I have a warm place in my heart for the firm once referred to as "Mother Merrill." As a young trader, I interviewed for an entry-level position. Right there on the main trading floor, a cavernous affair the size of several football fields in the downtown office. It was unlike any place I had ever been in before. I had plenty of friends who worked on desks there, and eventually came to know many folks in the research department. There was at one time a sense of camaraderie at Merrill, a real feeling that everyone was rowing in unison. In my experience, it was a unique place, with a sense of passion and purpose. And even though I never worked there, I was mentored by a number of traders who did. It was that sort of place.

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