This afternoon as I was driving up Ellsworth Street I noticed BB&T bank on my right and SunTrust Bank on my left. Back in the 60’s BB&T was Piedmont Trust and SunTrust was First National. My mother banked at Piedmont and my father banked at SunTrust. My father told me he “traded” with SunTrust because the President gave him a loan when he was down on his luck and he never forgot it. My mother never explained her allegiance to the competition across the street.
Regardless, I go up and down Ellsworth most every day of my life and whenever I reach the point where I’m between the two banks, I glance at one and then the other and remember a happy time when I was a child. Today my daydreaming was interrupted by trucks, dumpsters, heavy equipment, and office furniture sitting in the SunTrust parking lot. I pulled in and drove up to the opened back door. You could see in the opened door all the way through and out the opened front door. A symbol of eternity from my childhood was being hauled away.
SunTrust has built a beautiful new modern building in the Kroger parking lot over on Commonwealth Boulevard, and I’m sure the construction and the move make good sense to the bankers, but man, a lot of my childhood memories were being slammed in the back of a panel truck today. I went through the shuttered drive-through and drove back out onto Ellsworth.
As I stopped at the stoplight, I remembered my Dad taking me to First National on my sixth birthday. I had my piggy bank in one hand and his hand in the other. We walked across the lavish red carpet as I stared at the mural on the high ceiling reflected in the light from crystal chandeliers. If Martinsville was the Vatican City, then the First National Bank would have been the Sistine Chapel. It was breathtaking in all its splendor.
My father helped me open up a savings account that day and taught me the lesson of always saving a little bit of whatever you earn. I haven’t always practiced that lesson, but I’ve never forgotten it.
The light turned green and I began to see that majestic building at 134 East Church Street in my rearview mirror. I couldn’t help glancing in the mirror until it was completely out of sight.