Friday, May 18, 2018

The First National Bank of Englewood offers a new way to save in 1910.

We’re always being told to save more money. But this time, did a Chicago bank go too far?

The First National Bank of Englewood was located at 347-349 West 63rd Street in Chicago. In 1910 the neighborhood was upper-middle-class, and booming. The bank was doing fine. But like any smart business, officials at First Englewood knew they could do better.
First National Bank of Englewood, 347-349 West 63rd Street, Chicago, Illinois
The bank began publishing a small monthly magazine called Savings. It was distributed free in the community, and had the usual tips on how to save money. All pretty bland and innocent. Then, in the December 1909 issue, readers were treated to the following advice from the fine folks at First Englewood:
“One woman’s method of saving money—or perhaps we should say one of a woman’s methods of saving money—is to go through her husband’s pockets every night while he gently slumbers. All the loose change she finds she deposits in our bank at interest.”
Now a month had passed. During that time, the bank had added 500 new depositors. The head cashier said there was only one way to explain this—the wives of Englewood had been inspired by the article, and were filching coin from their sleeping mates.

Strange as it might seem, some men thought First Englewood’s savings campaign was unethical. The editor of Savings didn’t agree. The bank was merely helping the community become more thrifty. “For the last ten years we have made a close study of the people of Englewood,” he said. “At last we have the combination.”
As for the wives, many said they’d taken advantage of Christmas celebrations to acquire some of hubby’s cash. This had caused some excitement for one lady on Normal Avenue.

“The first time I tried separating my husband from his money, he came to me all out of breath and said that thieves had entered the house,” the woman recalled. “I said nothing until he rushed for the telephone to inform the police. Then I asked him to wait a minute and maybe I might explain.”

With that, the woman fetched her copy of Savings and pointed to the appropriate paragraph. Her husband laughed. All was well again on Normal Avenue.

The First National Bank of Englewood continued building its business in the years ahead, thriving along with the community. During the 1930s the bank became involved in a long dispute with the federal government. It closed in 1941.

by John R. Schmidt

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