Saturday, 7 December 2019

Why do I keep this stuff?

When I moved from the U.K. to the U.S.A. in 1976 I packed a large wooden crate with all manner of items I thought I'd like to have in my new home.

The crate was shipped and in due course I picked it up in Boston Harbour.  It just about fit into the back of a large station wagon I'd borrowed for the purpose.

Lord knows why, but I included files with every essay I had written in my four year seminary stint.   I never re-read them.  They joined Pittsfield's paper recycling programme in 2000, together with every Christmas and birthday card I had received between 1976 and 2000.   

(I had thought that I would revisit the cards  in my dotage, but after looking at a few signed (for instance)  "blessings Harry" or "love Helen" it occurred to me that I hadn't the faintest idea about  which Helen or which Harry had sent me the card!)  Out the cards went.

And there was a cross I had bought in Obersdorf,  Germany in about 1971  (I still have it); some items I bought in Kenya in 1973 and still have;  a gorgeous bone china mug my mother had given me for my coffee drinking in seminary  (gifted a few years ago to one of my nieces).

However I've hung on to some memorabilia  from my banking days.  I shipped it here in 1976, now I don't know what to do as I de-clutter.

Up until the late 1960's British banking had not changed much since Victorian Days.  

We still sat on high stools at high desks, illuminated by lamps with green lampshades, to keep current (checking); savings, and loan accounts by hand.

We had some kind of accounting machine on which customer statements were posted and printed.

All transactions were were made face to face in a branch bank; no ATM's, or  Debit Cards or Smart phone transactions.

Then it all began to change.  In my case there  was the merger between the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial Bank;  the introduction of the decimalisation of U.K. monies  (no more Pounds, Shillings and Pence, now just Pounds and Pence); and computerisation.  

My banking career had nothing to do with high  flying international stuff.   It was the more simple and gracious local branch banking.

And I've held onto some memorabilia from those days.

Chew Magna, Somerset branch where I  worked.

The brass outdoor wall bank sign.  It was replaced with a stainless steel NatWest sign (see below).  I asked the sign contractor if I might have it.  He replied that if it disappeared he would not notice.  So, some fifty years later I have it.  I had thought to have it mounted on a wooden fire place screen,  But that never happened. It is screwed to the wall in a closet in my spare bedroom.  

My bank name plates.  On the top the one we used in open counter days. On the bottom we used when the bank installed a glass screen between cashier/teller and customer.  It was not bullet proof, but it would deter any crazed crazed Englishman/woman who might be tempted to leap over the counter in order to rob the till or give me a kiss.

A brass shovel for use when coins were measured by weight before they were bagged.

On every desk, containing credit or debit slips on the top, and paper clips/rubber bands in the drawer.

 We even had a  Westminster Bank tie


The old Westminster Bank offered these elegant Savings Boxes to  children 

Made with metal, covered with faux leather.

The merged Nat West Bank was less ambitious in its choice of materials for its savings boxes:


In recent years I've done so much de-cluttering.  

But I have no idea as to what to do with these odd bits of banking memorabilia which I still have.  

And I wonder why the heck I shipped it from the U.K. to the U.S.A.  in the first  (1976) place!  😘

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