Sunday, 10 September 2017

Grandpa's Birthday

I've been thinking the past few days about what to write in remembrance of the three people born in September who were precious to me. The first birthday is of my Grandpa, born 10 September 1894.

I remembered Grandpa's bank box that I've kept all these years. It has fascinating bits in like his driving licenses from Oklahoma and from Wisconsin, both of which say he was 5'10" and weighed 185 lbs. There are legal papers for their burial sites in Minneapolis (which were never used), his WWII classification notice, a certified copy of his birth certificate from 1908 and another a few years later for Grandma. I found a photo she gave him of herself for his birthday in 1941. Also the bank book for their savings account. 

Bank books were never part of my life until I did business with a 'building society' here in Britain, probably the closest thing they have here to an American style credit union.  I have had several over the years, though I think they are called 'passbooks' here. 

I was fascinated to learn that Grandpa left over $7,200 in savings when he died. I've always thought that a remarkable feat for someone who was the sole support for his family, self-employed as a portrait photographer. His home and his car were paid off and he left no outstanding debt. It was a joint account belonging to him and Grandma. At his death the money was transferred to a different account with her name alone. Several withdrawals happened soon after, no doubt to pay for her nursing home stay.

Grandma's bank book had a more modern look featuring an image of the Local Federal Savings and Loan. 

Of course it looked a substantial building, something that had existed a long time and would stand forever. Kind of like I used to think of my grandparents.

Local Federal S&L is no more. It was taken over/ merged and moved a number of times then closed. The old building seems gone as well, replaced by a glass or mirrored building called "Leadership Square South". 

Image result for local federal savings and loan oklahoma city

I was thinking 'Local Federal' was an oxymoron, but the new name is rather sickening. Just think how proud those men feel though, when they tell you their office is in "Leadership Square". 

The account was opened in 1960 and closed in 1973.  Bill and I reckoned that Grandpa turned 65 in 1959 and so the $2,000 he deposited initially was probably from his business account. I remember him doing the odd portrait photography shoot as late as 1968 and he still had his darkroom in the front bedroom, but not long after that. 

He made both deposits and withdrawals over the 13 years, but the final amount was more over three times more than what he deposited. The value of $1 in 1960 was the same as $8.26 today (so he deposited about $17,000). Sadly, the inflation of the 60s and 70s ate away at his savings, as the value of $1 in 1974 was $5.23 in today's money (still, he had the equivalent of about $38,000). I've not calculated what sort of interest he was earning or how much he deposited vs how much he withdrew. It sounds slightly mental that I might sit down and do such things, but it is a small way of spending time 'with' Grandpa, thinking about him. 

My thought in writing about this is that it is so representative of the kind of man he was: careful, painstaking and frugal. I will likely never be able to create the level of order that he and Grandma had in their home or in their lives (well, aside from my Dad, who was rather a tornado through all that caution), but I often think of them when considering where to put things and whether to keep something I don't have a place for.

If Grandpa had any character flaws I was never aware of them. I remember him as the most patient person I ever met, aside from perhaps my Mom (and I know several of her faults). So, I'm remembering Grandpa today and sometime this month I will be making meatloaf in his honour.

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