You Can Bank On It

I remember the day well: It was when I was in Miss Connor’s 4th grade class, circa 1964. Miss Connor told us that at the end of the week, on Friday, a Bald Man from the Roosevelt Savings Bank was going to come and give us an opportunity to open up a bank account. If we wanted to open up a bank account, then we should bring with us (1) a permission slip signed by our parents; and (2) some money up to a dollar. My allowance at that time fifty cents per week. And considering my father’s salary was probably about $125 per week, I think that I made out pretty well. So, I figured that maybe putting away half of that per week was not a bad idea. After all, in the future I might want to buy a house or go to college.
 
My parents had their bank account in Roosevelt Savings Bank. I knew that because once a week, I would travel with my mother taking two buses to Nostrand Avenue and Avenue U to the bank to deposit my father’s pay check and take out money for the week. Took us about two hours to engage in that transaction. So, I trusted that Roosevelt SB is where I should bank. Cannot remember if the bank was named for Teddy or FDR, but either one seemed OK to me.
 
Not very convenient, way to bank back then. But there was one way to get the money in the bank, and one way to get it out. And just one balance.
 
No direct deposit. No debit card. No ATMs. No overdraft protection. No Checks by Phone. No automated payment. No “Available balance”, or “pending transactions” or “cash balance”. Just balance.
 
Anyway, the Bald Man arrived on Friday—he looked like a Banker. Bald, in a suit and tie.  He explained very nicely with a big smile, the plan. “We will give you a form to fill out, and you put your name here (pointing to line one that said ‘name’), and the amount you wish to deposit here, (pointing again to the line that said ‘amount’). Jonathan Lesser, who would call out in class even more than I did, shouted out, “The amount I WISH to deposit!!?? That would be a million!!”. Some kids laughed. Others looked annoyed. You can figure out which gender did what. 

Miss Connor shh’d him, and the Bald Man just smiled. He had three other 4th grade classes to go to, and probably other schools. So, after about ten minutes, my form was filled out, and my 50-cent deposit made.
 
And the next week, I had my first bank account pass book: With my name, account number, and there printed in blue ink: “Joseph R. Novick……..$.50…….April 24, 1964.”
 
And that began a relationship with Roosevelt Savings Bank that continued through my first job at Seniors Restaurant, and where I deposited all my paychecks and took out money for the week. And when I needed a college loan, that is where I drove to get the funds to go to college.
 
But today, while many others have changed names about twenty times over the years. The building is still there, and it is still Roosevelt Savings Bank, believe it or not.
 
However, banks no longer make money just on deposits. They profit off of the huge overdraft fees they charge, which disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly and those on fixed incomes.
 
Here’s the latest news on how banks try to market this “service”:
http://tinyurl.com/yks9p3v
 
Just repugnant. Wonder what the Bald Man would think?

You Can Bank On It