I'm thinking of starting a Russell Hudson Sherman Book Club,
based on the choices he makes for his chewing habit. The latest was my mother's High School yearbook.
Mom grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, a small town, in those days surrounded by potato fields, where everyone knew everyone. I was shopping with her at Lord and Taylor in New York City years ago when the salesman looked at her American Express card and said,
“Bank of Smithtown! I’m from Smithtown.”
Mom said, “Oh, really? what’s your name?”
“I dated your father.”
That’s a small town.
A banker in a small town knows everyone--and probably their parents and grandparents. He knows their business as well. Here's an ad placed by the Bank of Smithtown. Of course all local business supported the school and wished the graduates well. That was poignant because this was 1944 and many of the boys were going off to war if they hadn't left already.
Here's the ad from the local bank, who felt the need to impart some life lessons to the graduates.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE SHORTSIGHTED
VIEWS OF LIFE:
LIVING beyond one’s means for appearance sake.
WITH increased earnings, desire to increase spending.
TOO MUCH SHOW, living for today, making no preparation for tomorrow.
AlI OF THIS may be human nature, but it’s the curse of our time.
IT IS THE CAUSE OF
THE SURE WAY to be prepared for unexpected misfortunes is to have a bank book
in your name showing an increasing balance with growing interest credits.
USE OUR BANK; it is here for the use and benefit of everybody in this community.
BANK OF SMITHTOWN
SMITHTOWN BRANCH, N.Y.
MEMBER FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION
MEMBER FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
I can picture my maternal grandfather, Harry Brown, writing this copy. He started working at the Bank of Smithtown in 1928. Here he is at around that time with Mom and her brother.
He served continuously--first as cashier, chief operating officer and then executive vice president. In 1956 he was named the bank’s fourth president. You can read more about him in my post of November 9, 2019; PopPop Brown
From what I observed he loved his job and the connection it gave him to his community. He had many stories. One lady who applied for a loan but had little to show for collateral invited him to her home. She showed him the cold cellar where she had put up shelf after shelf of food from her garden. He looked at the array of shining jars and said, “Anyone who works that hard and is that thrifty will pay back our loan.” And she did.
And then there was the lady who said,
“Harry, I want a new mink and the sales are on but I’m not liquid at the moment. Will you float me a loan?”
“Well, what do you have for collateral?” he asked. She put her hands on her hips a la Mae West, ogled him and said, “Harry, do you really have to ask?”
She later came in and modeled the new coat for him. He loved telling that story; I think it made him feel kind of roguish.
He could be tough, too; he repossessed a man’s car on Christmas Eve. When we told him that seemed pretty cruel he answered, “I was the making of that young man!” Apparently having his car repossessed was the wake up call the young man needed to turn his life around.
To PopPop, honoring one’s commitments was the basis, the cornerstone of an honorable life and financial responsibility was inextricably tied to character. He believed that, he lived it, and was able through his work and his position to teach it.
I'm happy to have found that ad and the memory and insight it's brought me but Russell--that's enough with the books!
And, finally, I've begun a new drawing.
This is inspired by a photograph of a reliquary I saw in The NY Times. I just like the shape and don't quite know what it will be. some kind of pavilion, maybe--or a folly!
July 06, 2023