Memories of North American Bank

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 North American Bank


It still exists but is now the Key Bank on waterloo road.

I started as a filer and bookkeeper, it was very tedious work. This was a small bank and we did absolutely everything in house, processing check cashing, account posting and statement mailing.
We prepared checks that had been cashed by tellers for clearance (checks from our bank stayed with us) all others were taken downtown to Union Bank by a messenger from the main office. He picked up all checks and anything to be distributed from all the branches (we had 3 branches).
After the merger our bookkeeping department was closed and all the work was done downtown at the Central Main office. As a result I had to become a teller to keep a job. I t was tough change, but I learned to like it. One of the reasons I accepted the change was because I could stay in the neighborhood. I was able to walk to work, only 3 blocks away, a ten minute walk. It was a perfect situation.
I was promoted to branch secretary in 1965. This was such a wonderful job, a lot of responsibility but great. I had various duties, opening accounts, taking loan applications, wrote all the mail for my bosses, they said I told it better than they could. I also soothed troubled and worried customers and some were really mixed up and upset. I stayed on this job until I retired in 1977. I really missed going to work which most people thought was weird.



The Merger

North American was bought by Central National Bank in 1955 which changed the whole way of banking and it was a difficult time especially for the old time tellers but they weathered the storm and were as good as any big bank teller. The merger was the reason for the extensive remodeling of the bank.



 This was a real disaster in our opinion. They changed a beautiful bank consisting of marble floors, marble customer stands, brass and gold trimmed tellers' cages

(see pictures) into what they said was a great improvement in efficiency. This later proved a detriment during the robbery. One good thing that came from this is that I was able to take home a large piece of green Italian marble (used on customer stand) home. This later became a beautiful table (created by my son Tom)


Click on a face for a close up



 Another good thing was the addition of a drive-in window, which I was fortunate enough to be put in charge of. I did enjoy this job a lot.

(This is me with my customer Dr. Laushe)


The Robbery

One of the scariest events of my career was the robbery of our branch. This happened on a Monday afternoon just 15 minutes before closing. I looked up from my typewriter and this man was standing in front of my desk with a hand in his pocket and said "Get up and tell your manager that this is a holdup and don't press any alarms."
There were two robbers and they didn't hurt anyone but they scared us to death. The robbers told us to lock the bank doors, but actually it was a slow day and no customers showed up, there were only 2 customers in the bank but they were just shoved aside. The robbers went to the tellers' cages and showed guns and demanded they clean out the cash drawers. It so happened it was near closing time and the tellers had already put the excess cash in their private vault. So the robbers got about $6000. I felt that the remodeling that eliminated the cages made the tellers easy and accessible targets, the vault was also more exposed because of elimination of outer steel enclosure. They tried to get access to the main vault but the inner cash vault was locked and they realized they couldn't make it in time. They left by the back door and drove away in a very old red car. An alarm was sent in after they left and the police were there in about 5 minutes but it was too late the robbers got away.

We had to go to the FBI lineup and the Cleveland Police lineup and actually it was a very interesting time seeing how these organizations operate. I might mention that in a lineup they have policemen and other people mixed in with crooks . In our case it was surprising how little all the employees could tell about the appearance of the robbers. We were all so excited that we couldn't remember enough about what we saw. The FBI man told us if this ever happens again to concentrate on one aspect like hands, rings, scars, and facial deformities etc. That was interesting.

These men went on to do three more robberies before they were caught. The one who was at my desk turned out to be a criminal named Watson who had a long record. He went back to jail for 25 years and was eventually released because he was terminally ill.

More about bank robber called Fast Eddie Watson