Michigan’s Smallest Banks, 1900s-1910s
Where would we be without banks?
In a credit union, most likely.
Banks can be your friend...or not, depending on if you pay off your loans.
I remember when I was a little kid, I heard the grown-ups talking about how banks give out loans...they let you borrow money. I liked that idea! So a friend went with me down to the local small town bank. I went in and asked if I could borrow a dime...I must have wanted pop or candy or a comic book or something. Anyway, the teller said no.
Wait a minute...you loan money don't you? People borrow money from you, don't they? YES.
I only want to borrow a dime.
This went on for a few minutes, then I gave up. I could see the bank employees were getting a chuckle out of this...a little kid asking to borrow a dime from the bank...and getting turned down flat. As I got older, I remembered this incident. Now, if I had been the teller at that bank, I would've gone along with the gag by reaching into my pocket and giving the kid a dime. A dime wouldn't have broke him...and he would've made a little kid happy. But no... it was not to be....the ol' Scrooge.
Banks now are much more complicated then they were over 100 years ago. Back then, you walk in, get in line, do your business with the teller, and leave. Nowadays, there are no tellers. Just people in cubicles...and you have to sign in on a computer.
Earlier this year I went into my financial institution to make a loan payment. As I mentioned, there were no tellers, just people sitting in their cubicles with see-through plexi-glass. Along the lines of the old "take a number" customer routine, there is a sign on a computer at the front desk (replacing a real person) that says “sign in here”.
So I walk in and there is no line whatsoever...I wait...and finally,
CLERK: "May I help you?"
ME: Yes. I want to make a payment."
CLERK: "Did you sign in?"
CLERK: "You need to sign in so we know who's next in line."
ME: "But I'm the only one here."
CLERK: "Yes, but you need to sign in so we know."
ME: "But you can easily see there's no one else here."
CLERK: "But you still need to sign in."
ME: "Why should I sign in when no one else is here?"
CLERK: "So we know you're next in line."
ME: "There is no line!"
CLERK: "Yes, but how else would we know?"
Where the hell was I?
In Hooterville or some old Abbott & Costello routine?
Anyway, check out the gallery below of some of Michigan's banks – not the large gaudy ones, but the smaller, more interesting banks, mostly from the 1900s-1910s.