Recently I blogged about the only bank in my hometown when I was a kid. It’s been closed for many years and the beautiful corner building remains empty. Mom did our family banking at that facility because direct deposit or drive through did not exist when I was little. The focus of my story was this odd ‘perk’ the bank offered. Valley State Bank supplied several local businesses with unlimited blank checks bearing no one’s account numbers! If you were grocery shopping and short on cash, you filled out a generic check. The business and bank honored it.
As a senior I’m constantly warned/hounded/scared straight about having my identity stolen, grifter’s after every penny in my savings, scammers enticing me to buy products I’ll never see, fake IRS agents calling for my SSN or account numbers, a warrant out for my arrest from some fake courthouse/judge in another state, or someone I care about has been arrested for a crime and needs 8 thousand dollars rushed by Western Union from me for his bail. Plus my favorite, the extended warranty on the last 5 cars I’ve owned-everyday.
I’m astounded to think how trusting mom/dad/the bank was about their money/accounts back then. (Maybe we were more honest). After I published the story, I got comments that this strange banking practice was not limited to my quaint little town but was used all over the Midwest. What? Most of the store’s cash registers and bars where beer guzzling guys bellied up, it was common to see a pack of blank counter checks waiting to be haphazardly written out to ‘cash’ and no one thought anything of it.
One of my neighbors during the 1950’s was Lori. She and her family lived 2 houses away. She was a couple years younger than me but we were best friends and played together most days until she moved a half hour away (different town and school) a few years after we moved on the block. Her older brother Rod was closer to my age but he was a boy. We didn’t ‘play together.’
Through the miracle of Facebook (one of their best features), Lori, Rod and I reconnected a few years ago. We make comments on each other’s posts/blogs and generally keep track how each other’s lives are going. Apparently we have many of the same interests by the stuff we post. Blog readers know I enjoy antique oak furniture, rustic wooden boxes, old advertising gadgets, toys, reading and baking. We all still have a soft spot for our hometown.
Lori’s a dog lover and fiercely loyal to her family. Rod’s (still) an avid antique collector (unlike Hubs and I-we have no extra room, so we’re no longer on the prowl for that perfect piece of furniture we need to make our lives complete). Rod likes Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and owns a nifty old car named Nadine. Hubs has owned/refurbished several old cars during our long marriage and is now working on a 1962 Studebaker pickup. So there’s some common ground between old neighbors/friends.
A few days after I published the ‘blank check blog’ I got a package in the mail. It was from Rod. Oh. My. Goodness. The box had 14 pieces of miscellaneous cut cardboard stuck everywhere to ensure nothing got dented or bent. Once I got past all the cardboard there was a small green, metal file rack from VALLEY STATE BANK! In perfect condition, absolutely perfect.
Now my task is where to showcase this advertising file. It should be on/in an antique oak roll top desk, which I do not have, (but Rod, if you’ve got one, I will find a spot). For now it’s going on the roll top desk I do own. I’ve had it since 1983 when I bought it at an estate sale in Davenport Iowa. Inside was paperwork which documents it had been used in the lower elementary grades of Davenport Public Schools during the 1920’s. It’s cute but the chair is more suitable for a 5-year-old, not the best place for me to write checks. But, for now it will suffice. Thanks so much Rod, I love it! And now you know the rest of the story…