Friday, April 3, 2015


When I am gone, I want to be like an old bank building.

In my area, there are a few old bank buildings, and, true the financial scenario, they have had many different names: TD Bank, Citizen's Bank, Wachovia, Susquehanna, Bill's Bank, Fred's Bank, The First Bank of name it.
...etched in stone. 

Each of these banks has had a parade of plastic, internally-lighted signs. Each of them has been emblazoned on the face with a hundred logos and slogans. It seems as if their names change every week as the phony, surreal financial tides of the world and of the country shift.

But a mile or two away from me, there is a bank in a "downtown" area that hearkens back to earlier days. There is a pizza place that looks like it might have been a general store; a building that was obviously once a saloon or hotel is now a hairdresser's. A railroad track that runs through the heart of the downtown area passes a small train station building (which no longer operates, since the trains that come through now are only freight) that Walt Whitman once used to get from Camden, NJ to his summer digs, a short walk away from the station.

...with hideous metal doors added.
But, right there on the corner, still stony and dignified, stands LAUREL SPRINGS NATIONAL BANK. From 1864 until 1967, that's what that building was. (Old Walt would see it right in front of him, getting off of the train, leaving the station, and he'd maybe cross the road to the hotel for a lunch next to the bank on his way to his summer home on Maple Avenue (what is now called "The Whitman-Stafford House").

I'm not sure what the building is now -- I think it is some kind of a linen-laundering service. There are plastic bottles piled on the inner windowsills. There are always box trucks parked outside. I don't know how many purposes the old bank has served since 1967, after its 103 years of service to the local economy.

But whatever has passed through its doors; whatever purposes it served -- whether dignified or lowly -- it still stands straight and tall, proclaiming its defiance of time. And as workers curse and toil with tall piles of soiled sheets and tablecloths, they pass under the stoic words, clinging hare to the surrounding stone, that proclaims that the building is still LAUREL SPRINGS NATIONAL BANK.
Standing firm against change.

Because it was built tall and strong and because it was built with the assumption that it would always be tall and strong, that venerable building's true nature will never be erased. You can empty out the money and wash linen in it or even use it as a warehouse, but the building still knows what it is: LAUREL SPRINGS NATIONAL BANK.

That's how I want to be.

(More pics of the town below, taken on a rainy Good Friday.)

Downtown Laurel Springs -- bank on far right.
The saloon -- now "The Hair Saloon"
The station where Whitman got of the train.
Inside the station/post office (camera against glass - sorry).
Whitman's view coming in on the train -- station on left, bank on right. .
Walt's house -- maybe a half-mile from the bank.
Walt's front door.


  1. It was a bank at least up until the late 1980s.

    1. Thanks -- info is sparse and 1967 is the latest I could find. I grew up nearby but never really saw it in the '80s. Did you see it yourself or did you find documentation I didn't? Either is good news! Feels like it gives it a longer life of dignity.