History in the making
Published 3:08 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2004
There are many events in a lifetime that are considered milestones. Births, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays.
It is not often that one sees notice of a 100th birthday. They are not that common. And for a business to reach that milestone is almost unheard of.
It is estimated today that most businesses – or at least small businesses – are destined to fail.
Here in the literal heart of Atmore is a business that definitely started out as a small business that has not only survived, it has thrived and become home to many of the area's most prominent citizens.
We speak of course of the United Bank, which is turning 100 years old today.
What changes it has seen come and go here!
From its beginnings on Main Street, where first people came in on foot, or by horseback or buggy. Then there was the occasional bicycle and then more and more often the horseless carriage stopped out front.
First it was probably considered a man's business, banking, that is. The tellers would have done everything by hand, known all the customers by name, and the work carried out in the beautiful copperplate handwriting that was part of what one learned in school in those days.
Eventually, with the growth of the town, it became impossible to keep track of customers only by name.
But still the bank stood, through WWI, through the black days of the stock market crash, the Great Depression and WWII. Those winds of change must have blown hard against the walls, and many other banks and financial institutions went out of business or were bought up by the giants.
But the little hometown bank that could just hunkered down and held on.
And even when it was impossible to account only by name, the people in the office, behind the teller cages, in the suites upstairs, they still know the customers by name.
How many trains do you suppose have rolled past that bank, both on Main Street and on Nashville Avenue? How many children have opened their first bank accounts there or had them opened as gifts at birth?
How many homes and businesses are happy and thriving today because of that institution?
How many dollars raised for United Fund, and other charities? How many hours donated to civic work and civic organizations?
How much blood has been collected in blood drives there?
And there have been countless jokes told, good times shared, weddings and goings-off-to-college and new babies brought in to be admired.
There have been losses as well, losses that saddened this town, and that bank, losses shared that were lightened by sharing, but still devastating.
Through it all, the bank and its people have been there, part of the very fabric of our community.
United Bank is a grand institution, of which Atmore is justly proud.
We congratulate her on her first 100 years and hope to print a similar kudo to her when she reaches 200.