Wow! What a story. I well
remember hearing the news of Mr. Massey's suicide but knew nothing of
the note. I also was not clear--which came first, the suicide or the
closing of the bank? I do remember clearly my father's reaction.
I only saw my father, Robert Morton Steele, cry on two occasions and one
of those was the day he came out of the bank, toward the car, tears
coming down his cheeks. Inside the car he said, "It's all gone, its
lost." He said nothing more. We rode home in silence. I connected that
to the suicide but had little understanding of banks and Great
I faintly remember some of my older siblings saying that Papa Steele had
opened a "college account" for us. I can't imagine that it was one
account for each of his 8 children but that is what had been lost in the
closing of the bank.
Last week, at my bank in Yellow Springs, Ohio, there was general lobby
discussion about bank closings. "Oh, it can't happen now. That's just
scare talk," said the young teller. "You may be right", I answered. "The
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation provides a safety net for
depositors now but for those of us who remember the bank closings of the
1930s we still don't sleep too soundly." He looked shocked," You
remember the bank closings?" he asked in astonishment. All the people in
the lobby were silent and looking at me as I nodded and said as I headed
for the door, "Yes, very vividly. My father had started a small savings
account in hopes of sending his children to college, and it was lost."
At least three people stumbled over each other, trying to open the two
doors for me. I had made history come alive.