We Lost a Bank Last Week - Big Whoopee?

          Our small town lost a bank last week. I know, big whoopee. Your town might have lost one as well.

 Or the office supply store that had been there for 70 years finally surrendered to Amazon.

 Or your favorite lunch gathering spot, operated for generations by a family who finally shut the doors because the grandkids moved on to the big city and the quest for bigger bucks.

          We would like life to stay put. Fate has other plans. There is always “progress,” but one wonders if there isn’t a human cost to it all. In his excellent novel “Hannah Coulter,” author Wendell Berry captures the sad dynamics that attend getting ahead and leaving behind.

          Only the so-called movers and shakers understand the pace of multi-million dollar deals when one huge company swallows another and closes branches that do not fit its business plan.

          There are those of us whose earliest memories of banking involve a $5 monthly deposit into a Christmas Club and the pride in December of having a teller handing over your check for $60 plus a little interest.  A simple era, that.

          And back in Carlsbad where I spent most of my newspaper life, representatives of the three banks would meet each day at Corner Drug Store lunch counter to swap checks drawn on one another’s banks. They would also swap gossip and visit with other drug store customers.  The notion of zippity-doo-dah electronic transfers were not yet a gleam in the eye of some young computer whiz who was to become a zillionaire.

          Ruidoso is not starved for banking services. Four other fine banks are here to serve us. My friends at Southwest Securities FSB will find new avenues to pursue. But customers will miss Greg, and Jan, and Tom, and Danny, and Robin. They took time to stop and visit with us. I know one old guy who will especially miss their congeniality.

          I have watched daughter Julie deposit checks with her iPhone. Marvelous technology, but I don’t want to do that. I want to wait in line and talk with someone, if no one else, whoever is in line with me.

          So when a town suffers such loss, it is not just a business building going dark. Rather, it is the loss of one more human touchstone. I purposely avoided closing day, extending my best wishes the day before. I asked a friend who did witness Friday’s closing to describe the mood.

          “There was the sense of great regret about what could have been but never will be. Empty desks and empty hearts,” he wrote.

          Corner Drug Store is also long gone. Think about it. The corner drug stores across America, the human touchstones where banker met laborer, where city councilmen chatted with constituents, and, lacking something called Wi-Fi, they didn’t sit in isolated silence searching the Web. They actually talked.

          It’s a new age. We’re smarter. We’re faster. Are we better off?

          This is the home of New Mexico nonsense.  With the occasional dose of sentimentality.