‘Try it, just try it. My partner, Mr Brian Smith, this lady's husband, asked me to come with Mrs Smith' - Brian had not -‘because he had heard that your bank was just a leetle bit reluctant -‘
‘That's slander! That's criminal slander! '
‘- to be as polite to ladies as you are to businessmen. Now - Do you keep your promise to her? Right now? Or three days from now? '
Mr Smaterine was not smiling. ‘Wimple! Let's have a cheque for Mrs Smith's account'
We all kept quiet while it was made out; Mr Smaterine signed it, handed it to me. ‘Please see that it is correct. Check it against your passbook. '
I agreed that it was correct.
‘Very well. Just take that to your new bank and deposit it. You will have your money as soon as it clears. Say about ten days. ' He smiled again, but there was no http://www.foreignliterature.ru mirth in it.
‘You said I could have my money now. '
‘You have it. There's our cheque. '
I looked at it, turned it over, endorsed it, handed it to him. ‘I'll take it now. '
He stopped smiling. ‘Wimple! '
They started counting out banknotes. ‘No, ' I said, ‘I want cash. Not paper issued by some other bank. '
‘You are hard to please, Madam. This is legal tender. '
‘But I deposited real money, every time. Not bank notes. ' And I had nickels and dimes and quarters and sometimes pennies. Once in a while a silver cartwheel. ‘I want to be paid back in real money. Can't you pay me in real money? '
‘Of course we can, ' Mr Smaterine answered stiffly. ‘But you will find, ah, over twenty-five pounds of silver dollars quite cumbersome. That's why bank certificates are used for most transactions. '
‘Can't you pay me in gold? Doesn't a great big bank like this one carry any gold in its vaults? Fifteen double eagles would be ever so much easier to carry than would be three hundred cartwheels, ' I raised my voice a little and projected it. ‘Can't you pay me in gold? If not, where can I take this to change it for gold? '
They paid in gold, with the odd change in silver.
Once we were headed south Nelson said, ‘Whew! What bank, out south do you want? Troost Avenue Bank? Or Southeast State? '
‘Nellie, I want to take it home and ask Brian to take care of it. '
‘Huh? I mean, yes, Ma'am. Right away:
‘Dear, something about this reminds me of 1893. What do you remember about that year? '
‘Eighteen ninety-three. .. Let me see. I was nine and just beginning to notice that girls are different. Uh, you and Uncle Ira went to the Chicago Fair. When you got back I noticed that you smelled good. But it took another five years to get you to notice me, and I had to slide a pie under you to manage it?
‘You always were a bad boy. Never mind my folly in ‘98; what happened in ‘93? '
‘Hmm. .. Mr Cleveland started his second term. Then banks started to fail and everybody blamed it on him. Seems a bit unfair to me - it was too soon after he was sworn in. The Panic of'93, they called it'
‘So they did and my father did not lose anything in it, for reasons he described as pure dumb luck. '
‘Nor did my mother, because she always did her banking in a teapot on the top shelf. '
‘Father accidentally did something like that. He left Mother a four-month allowance, in cash, in four sealed envelopes, each with a date. He took with him cash, in gold, in a money belt. And he left money behind - whatever it was beyond what we needed - in a lockbox, again in gold.
‘Nelson, he told me later that he had not guessed that banks were about to fail; he did it just to annoy Deacon Houlihan - Deacon Hooligan, Father called him. Do you remember him? President of Buder State Bank. '
‘No, I guess he died without my permission. '
‘Father told me that the Deacon had remonstrated with him for drawing out cash. The Deacon said it was poor business practice. Just leave instructions to pay Mrs Smith - Mother I mean - so much each month. Father should leave his money where it was and use cheques - the modern way to do business.
‘Father got balky - he's good at that - and consequently the bank failures never touched him. Nelson, I don't think Father did business with any bank after that. He just kept cash in a lockbox in his surgery. I think. Although with Father one is never sure. '
We had a conference about it when we got home, Brian, me, Nelson, Betty Lou. Nelson told them what had happened. ‘Getting money out of that bank was like pulling teeth. This boiled shirt certainly did not want to part with Mo's money. I don't think he would have done so if I had not made a loud, obnoxious nuisance of myself. But that is only partly the point. Mo, tell ‘em about Uncle Ira and a similar case. '
I did so. ‘Dears, I don't claim to know anything about finance. I'm so stupid that I have never understood how a bank can print paper money and claim that it is just the same as real money. But today felt like 1893 to me. .. because it is just the sort of thing that happened to Father just before the banks started to fail. He didn't get caught by bank failures because he was balky and stopped using banks. I don't know, I just don't know. .. but I felt uneasy and decided not to put my egg money back into a bank. Brian, will you keep it for me? '
‘Here in the house it could be stolen. '
Nelson said, ‘And if it's in a bank, the bank can fail. '
‘Are you getting jumpy, Nel? '
‘Maybe. Betty Lou, what do you think? '
‘I think I'm going to draw out my thirty-five cents and find a Mason jar and bury it in the back yard. ' She paused. ‘And then I'm going to write to my father and tell him what I've done and why. He won't listen - he's a Harvard man. But I'll sleep better if I tell him. '
Brian said, ‘Some others also we must tell. '
‘Who? ' said Nelson.
‘Judge Sperling. And my own folks. '
‘We don't want to shout it from the house tops. That could start a run. '
‘Nel, it's our money. If the banking system can't afford to let us draw out our own money and sit on it, then maybe there is something wrong with the banking system. '
‘Tsk, tsk. You some kind of an anarchist or something? Well, let's get busy. The first ones in line always get the biggest pieces. '
Brian was so serious about it that he made a trip back to Ohio, expensive though it was for him to travel without a client to pay for it. There he talked to Judge Sperling and to his parents. I do not know details. .. but neither the Foundation nor Brian's parents were hurt by the Panic of 1907. Later on we all saw the United States Treasury saved by the intervention of J. P. Morgan. .. who was vilified for it.
In the meantime the assets of Brian Smith Associates were not buried in the back yard. .. but were locked up in the house, and we started keeping guns.