His First Banker Experience
A Story Told to The Annual Pennsylvania Community Bankers Association
By Charlie “T” Jones
I’ve never written and only rarely tell of my first banker experience.
It happened in 1936. I was nine years old and the Depression was still in full force. We came from Alabama and settled in Lancaster County in a little row home, which my father managed to rent. It was getting near Christmas and my dear dad had nothing to spend for Christmas for his five children ages 1 to 9. In desperation, he went to the bank to try to persuade them that he was a safe risk for a small loan. He explained his predicament: no job, no collateral, and 5 small children with Christmas approaching.
As he should have known, the banker would have to decline his request, but he had an alternative offer for my dad to consider. He explained that if my dad could postpone celebrating Christmas a day or two, the children wouldn’t know it and everything would be reduced in the stores, and he would only need half the amount he was requesting. He said if this was agreeable, he would approve the loan for a smaller amount. Of course my dad gratefully accepted his offer.
I have experienced many Christmases, but this was the one I remember the best. Christmas Eve after we were all tucked in bed, the downstairs front door slammed open. There was a lot of noise and footsteps, and my father rushed down the stairs to see what was happening.
I followed a few minutes later, and saw him sitting on the bottom step with his head in his hands. I couldn’t understand why he was weeping. When I reached the bottom step, I could see no one in the hallway, but the hall was lined with boxes. There were boxes of food, clothing and candy. There was a riding fire engine and a four-foot folding white paneled dollhouse. We never had a Christmas like that and we never knew who or why they did it. We didn’t belong to a church, and the friends we had were as poor as we were. My dad returned to the bank to repay the loan. The banker surprised my dad by telling him that there was no record of his loan.
I only understood that Christmas experience years later when Jesus became my Lord and Savior. How blessed some of us are to see God’s love working in and through His children. John 3:16 is where it begins, but those unknown servants were practicing 1st John 3:16. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, how He laid down his life for us: so we ought to lay down our lives for others.”