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The Villages
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Old-time banking

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

Like most of you, I receive lists of “fun” things that the sender believes should be of interest.  Sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not. However, I received one the other day which was a list of items which if you remembered using, it meant that you were one old duffer or (dufferess).  One them asked if you recalled taking a bankbook with you to the bank. Well, I do recall going to the bank with my little savings account book. I would hand it to the teller who would take my few paltry coins and add them by hand in my bankbook. I would take it back while wishing there were a few more bucks listed – actually I wanted a whole lot more.  However, that never seemed to happen.

I also recall that once the new year started the bank would remind you to start up a special account called a Christmas Club Account. The idea was that you would put a few bucks aside whenever you could and then come Christmas you would have some funds to buy your girlfriend, wife, parents etc. a nice gift.  This was, of course, before everybody had credit cards.  The banks paid very little if any interest on the Christmas Club Accounts, but at least you weren’t charging the gifts and paying back the funds at a healthy interest rate on a credit card.  If you were prudent and had some funds to set aside, they were nice when the Christmas season arrived.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any real funds with which to be prudent, so I only tried it once.  I believe that my mother did use them.

Another thing that banks did was to reward you generously if you opened a savings account with at least $50.  (I never had $50). However, some folks did, and the bank would cheerfully hand over a small appliance like a toaster or iron.

You did have to agree to keep the savings account open for a reasonable (their definition) time in order to receive the reward.  If you didn’t, then three-fingered Joey would come by and repossess it.  OK, I made the last sentence up, but you did have to make certain that you maintained the account for an appropriate time – like until your kids went off to college or work.  However, during the period you were guaranteed a way of making toast for breakfast or ironing a shirt.  Life was easy and simple in those days.

There were other appliances back then that were too big for the bank to give you for opening an account.  Even back then, it would have been a pain in the neck to drag a refrigerator home.  Refrigerators back then – and this will shock you – did not automatically defrost.  You had to do substantial labor by taking all the items out of the refrigerator so you could defrost it.  There would be heavy duty ice caked in a number of places especially up where the ice cubes were located. If you wanted to get the milk and items back in the fridge quickly, you would take an ice pick to loosen the ice so you could throw it into the sink to melt.  Once you were able to get to the ice cubes you would run them under water so you could put new water in the trays.  When the fridge wasn’t frosted up, you would yank out a tray where the cubes had frozen.  Most of them had a metal level that you yanked up and the cubes would be shaken loose and you could put them in a nice cold drink.  None of this putting a glass against a lever outside the refrigerator and having as many cubes as you want drop into the glass!  Once you had the ice where you needed it, it would be necessary to take the tray to the sink and fill it up with water again. You would then replace it in the fridge where hopefully the cubes would harden and be available the next time you needed some.

Life was interesting back then and fun – even if The Blonde in the house claims not to remember the above!

Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com.


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