I moved to my small Massachusetts town in 2000, and brought with me an account at BayBank. I had my Baybank Card…some of you may remember that quaint jingle. The BayBank branch in South Deerfield was a busy place, every Friday afternoon migrant workers from Mexico would line up 12 or 15 deep to cash their paychecks. They were all uniformly short, and when we would see that big line of short guys waiting, I would know to come back later.
Then the BayBank branch became Shawmut. Long enough for the bigger bank to buy naming rights to Boston Garden. How did that work out? Then, poof, it was BankBoston. Today it’s Bank of America. And the same teller Donna, still works there from the BayBank days.
I kept visiting my little branch, happy that the credit line I established so long ago with BayBank miraculously continued to work in each new incarnation.
A few months ago I was at a party in Amherst, and met some of my girlfriend’s brother’s new neighbors. A man there said he was in banking, and told me that soon, there would be very few full service banks and that tellers would be a quaint anachronism. “Banks are getting rid of staff, and especially getting rid of tellers. You’ll be able to talk to a teller using a computer screen, but not in person.”
I just found out today that my Bank of America South Deerfield branch is closing down for good on August 16. I had a bad feeling when I saw the big sign advertising the building for sale. I asked a teller if there would still be an ATM downtown. “Oh, you can go to the Circle K on Rte 5,” she said.
I have been walking to the bank for twenty years, and it’s a big part of the fabric of downtown. Fortunately there is still a Greenfield Savings Bank branch, full of helpful tellers, which is also in walking distance. Still, I am sad to see this bank branch go away, and not even leave us a downtown ATM.