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Ready, Willis and Able – Lockbox evokes memories (Nov. 18, 2015 issue)

I’ve been putting off emptying my lockbox. The last time I was at Mountain Commerce Bank’s South Main branch, one of the tellers told me that it is the oldest lockbox in use at any of their Unicoi County locations. We laughed when I told her that I have been storing my valuables in it for 45 years. Use of that old box was part of my employee benefits package when I went to work for what was then Erwin National Bank, back in 1970. As most readers probably already know, soon Mountain Commerce will be consolidating its South Main Branch with its North Main Branch. And those of us with lockboxes at the South Main Branch need to rent a box at another location.
I don’t know what the future holds for the building that used to be Erwin National Bank, but I’m hoping readers might enjoy knowing a bit about its past. A good source for this is from the writing of the late James Goforth, a veteran Clincfield railroad employee, who for many years was Erwin and Unicoi County’s official historian. In Mr. Goforth’s book, ERWIN TENNESSEE: A PICTORIAL HISTORY, 1891- 1929, he says that Erwin National Bank opened in 1910 on the northwestern corner of South Main and Union Streets and was called the Bank of Erwin before it became Erwin National.
Fire destroyed this building in 1929. The bank used a temporary facility until a new building was erected in the same location. I vaguely recall when Erwin National was located in this building, still standing today. It served for many years as the Unicoi County Public Library, after the “new bank,” as it was called, was built in 1964 across the street on the southwest corner of South Main and Union Streets.
I worked for six years as a bookkeeper for the “new bank.” I will never forget those days working in the bookkeeping department with Chris, Chestine, Pauline, Peggy, and Lynn. I was not a town girl, so I had a lot of customer names to learn, since folks in 1970 still expected their bank personnel to know who they were. I will never forget the twinkle in Lynn’s eyes when she whispered a customer’s name to me. And I’ll never forget the good times working with Chris, Chestine, and Pauline as we posted transactions to customers’ accounts on those loud and now long- outdated, old posting machines. Oh, and Peggy, I owe her so much gratitude.
Circumstances change. Time moves on. And we have to move with it. But the human heart still feels these passages as Joe Barr so beautifully expressed in his Facebook post published in the Erwin Record telling of his last run with the railroad that will always be to Joe and many others, the Clinchfield.
Who was it who said we have to know where we have been in order to know where we are going?