"Harry, don't forget to collect the
bank books today!"
"Yes, Mrs. Justin. I have the big collection bag all ready"
"When are you scheduled to visit the other classes?"
"The folks in the office said I should have all the books
collected and down there by ten-thirty."
"You better start collecting by ten-o'clock then."
That's how it went through 8th grade at First Avenue Grammar School.
Every Tuesday I was the bank book collector for the entire school
- the man in charge of those big buck nickel and dime accounts me
and my budding financier schoolmates kept at the Howard Savings
Bank here in Newark.
My job was to visit every class, collect the books from the teachers,
lock them into this enormous atomic-bomb-proof canvas bag and deliver
it to the office for pick-up. Two days later the accounts were all
credited and the bank books came back, whereupon I brought them
back to the classrooms from whence they came.
"Hey Roman, don't lose my bankbook!"
"No sir Mr. Rockefeller. I wouldn't dream of such a thing.
Why you must have a fortune in there by now."
"Yessiree Bob. Been savin' since the 4th grade. Gonna' buy
me a car in high school!"
And so the irrefutable logic of an 8th grader goes..........looking
at the world through 3.25% interest tinted glasses. Come to think
of it, that is darn good compared to today's low interest rate world.
Of course a whole dollar bought a great deal more back then. You
could walk into the local deli and get cigarettes, lunchmeat, a
round roll, and a candy bar and probably fetch some change too.
T'aint so today folks.
It was all about responsibility back then, learning how to save
for a rainy day or maybe buy that special gift for yourself or mom.
Nickels and dimes every school week could add up, especially when
grandma or grandpa flipped you a quarter or half dollar, or you
did a little work around the neighborhood and got a buck or two
here and there. Those were the heydays---made you swagger with a
"Hello, this is the Howard Savings Bank....how may I help
"Let me speak with Mr. Howard please, Harry Roman from First
Avenue School calling!"
"Right away Mr. Roman!"
"Mr. Howard speaking."
"Howie, baby.....Harry Roman here. How's the family?"
"Harry my good man, how's 8th grade these days?"
"Excellent, just excellent. I have a big deposit I need to
make Howie. It's a bit too large for the old canvas bag."
"Say no more Harry, I'll send the armored truck around to
pick it up. What are we talking here?"
"It's five big ones Howie, in singles"
"Oh my! I shall have to double the guard and put the staff
here on full alert. Perhaps I'd better get an escort from the Newark
"Howie, let's be discrete. No sirens..... and please…..use
the back entrance to the school. Just have the office ring me up
when your boys get here. I'll sign personally for it."
"Of course Harry. Give my love to the family. I'll invest
this personally for you and have the necessary papers of deposit
made out immediately. By the way, I noticed your baby sisters have
not been keeping up with their deposits. I hope there is nothing
"I'll have a talk with them after dinner this evening Howie.
Thanks for bringing that to my attention. This younger generation....so
carefree and unaware of the importance of making sound investments.
I shall get them back on the straight and narrow."
"Good show man!"
"Let’s do lunch sometime Howie—gotta’ run----history
test and all that other academic stuff. Ciao!"
It's a good thing this responsibility stuff. Yep, nickels and
dimes today..... a mortgage, college bills, and two weddings tomorrow.
What a country!