My Career at Manufacturers Bank


Submitted by Donald Hooper, Retail Marketing Services   


My career started in June1952, at the Industrial National Bank.


I was hired immediately after graduation from high school, and my first job was in the Industrial National Main Office at Michigan and Griswold in the Cash Vault. Over one hundred applicants applied for three positions.   My starting salary was $180 per month.  I was paid $90 less deductions on the 15th and last day of the month.  Many of my friends went into the military (Korean War was underway), or into the auto plants for work on the assembly line.  Some went to college, but not many in those days.  My cousin got a job as an elevator operator at the General Motors Building for $50 per week in salary.  My twin brother Ron went to work for the Detroit Times newspaper, and earned about $60 per week delivering newspapers to stores and newsstands.  He worked outside in rain, snow and cold weather.  I was inside, warm, and wearing a suit and tie.  I rode the bus to work each day, at a cost of $.25 each way.  I had one suit, my high school graduation suit, and that’s all I needed.  Seth Slawson was the Personnel Director, and Lee Donlin was the interviewer.


It was the Cash Vault’s responsibility to receive shipments of excess cash from the branch offices, prove the currency by hand counting each package, and to ship coin and currency to the branch offices as needed.  We received all of our coin in loose bags from the Federal Reserve Bank, and this coin had to be packaged.  We used a machine which could be set to the number of coins in each roll, i.e., fifty pennies, forty nickels, fifty dimes, forty quarters, etc.  Tube attachments to hold the coin wrapper were affixed to the machine based on the coin type being counted and wrapped.  After the coins had been wrapped and repackaged for shipment they were stored in the coin vault.  Currency was ordered, as needed, from the Federal Reserve Bank, and excess currency shipped to the Federal Reserve Bank.  We generally kept about $500,000 in various denominations in our vault to meet branch requirements.  We had $100,000 in the form of 10 $10,000 notes in the vault.  I had never seen so much money in one place in my life.  Salmon P. Chase’s portrait was on the $10,000 bill.  I wore a necktie each day, and had a canvas apron to protect my clothing from the dirt and dust generated in counting currency and coins.  The aprons were not supplied by the bank, and periodically had to be taken home and washed.


I worked for Marvin McBain, who was the bank’s General Teller, and for Bill MacEvoy who was a retired Detroit Street Railway employee, but who took the job at the bank to supplement his retirement income.  Both men were extremely helpful mentors.  They taught me the “ropes” of currency and coin handling, the need for a work ethic that accepted nothing less than my best effort, and an understanding of how the Cash Vault fit into the daily operations of Industrial National Bank.  I am forever grateful to these two men  for taking a young boy under their wing.  Some of their teachings were never accept mistakes, do it right the first time, always look for more responsibility, never quit learning the skills needed to perform the job, and always be enthusiastic about the opportunity waiting around the next corner.  How valuable these lessons were to become in the years ahead.  We ate on the ninth floor cafeteria, but we each “brown bagged” it, and purchased a beverage for our meals.  I learned to drink coffee while working with McBain and MacEvoy.


I looked forward to going to work each day, enjoyed the challenge of learning new skills, and to our conversations on a wide variety of subjects.  I mostly listened to what these two men had to say about the world, the nation, and the bank.  After about six months I was given full responsibility for the bank’s coin vault operation.  I had to order coins from the Federal Reserve as needed, and ship coins to the Fed and to our branch offices.  I also received currency and coin orders from the branches on a daily basis.  Since we had only 16 offices, it was not an overwhelming task.  If the rate of exchange on Canadian Currency changed, I had to call each office with this new rate of exchange.   I kept an ongoing inventory of our coin supply, and when we had too much, we shipped it back to the Fed.  We also received, on a very limited basis, some customer deposits from the Brink’s Armored Car Company.  These deposits had to be counted, balanced, and credited to the customer’s account.  In the event of an error (over/short), the customer had to be contacted and entries put through to correct the error.  There weren’t many errors in those days.  When McBain went on vacation, we were given a “replacement GT”, usually one of the seasoned tellers from Main Office.  When MacEvoy or I went on vacation, there was no replacement….we picked up the extra work for two weeks.


After a period of about one year I was moved from the Cash Vault in the basement to the General Teller’s cage in the back of the Commercial Teller windows on the main banking floor at Michigan Griswold.  I worked with Genevieve Gurnack to receive all armored  carrier customer deposits, supply the Main Office tellers with currency and coin, and to ship excess currency and coin to the Cash Vault.  In addition, since all employees were paid in cash at that time, the Personnel Department would order currency and coin every two weeks and they would stuff each employee’s pay envelope with the net amount of pay the employee was to receive.  The Main Office had both Savings Tellers and Commercial Teller windows and they were on opposite sides of the bank.  Don Taylor, who was the Guard at the Main Office sat in the front lobby and assisted, greeted, and made our customers feel welcome.  Don ultimately became the driver for our Chairman William Mayberry when Mr. Mayberry could no longer drive himself.  Don could charm the birds from the trees with his smile and greeting.  He knew most of our customers by name, and greeted them that way.


Otto Lill was the Manager of the Main Office, and he had a couple of assistant managers.  One was Ben Kelley, and the other was Alex Alport.  Otto Lill would become the Cashier of the bank after the merger with MNB in 1955.


Industrial National Bank grew out of the Morris Plan Bank concept.  Morris Plan banks were at the forefront of an explosion of consumer credit that started at the beginning of the second decade of the twentieth century and they became the prominent institution for providing consumer credit to the poor through the 1920s. At the time Morris Plan banks first appeared in 1910, few institutions existed for provision of consumer credit to low- and middle-income individuals. Aside from retailers, the primary provider of consumer credit to the poor was the loan shark. Other institutions designed to provide consumer credit were also being introduced at that time.  The demise of the Morris Plan institutions began with the full recovery of banking after the Great Depression. By that time, however, the basic Morris Plan idea of providing small consumer loans to individuals had been fully incorporated into commercial bank lending practices.  The Industrial Morris Plan Bank of Detroit was formed in 1917, merged with the City Industrial Bank (founded 1927) in 1932, and survived the Bank Holiday of 1933 as the Industrial National Bank of Detroit. Glenn Turnbull and A. Guy Ropp were the two Executive Officers when I was hired. The consumer loan department had employees Harry Westaway, Art Morrison, Gil Ulmer and Elmer Keller.


The bank, in addition to small consumer loans, offered savings accounts paying one percent interest, and commercial checking accounts.  A few customers also maintained personal checking accounts, called Popular Checking.  All accounts, including savings, checking and installment loans were maintained on hand posted documents.  Interest on savings accounts was hand calculated and posted either by adding machine or by hand posting to the ledger card.  The customers maintained a passbook and each deposit, withdrawal, or interest posting was hand written in the passbook.  Balancing the Savings Ledgers was a monthly task, and calculating interest consumed one month each quarter.  The interest to be paid was penciled on the ledger card, then posted using a Burroughs Sensymatic savings posting machine, adding machine, or hand inked on the card.  The ledger balance had to be run before the interest posting and balanced.  The interest postings were added up, added to the ledger balance, and totaled.  Then the ledger cards were run after posting to insure they were in balance.  Any error, no matter how small, had to be found and corrected.


In August 1953 I left the bank for a four year tour of active duty in the United States Navy. While in the Navy, the job that I had at the bank, and the skills needed to perform that job permitted me to become a Disbursing Clerk in the Navy.  The job of the Disbursing Clerk was to calculate the pay and allowances for each member of the ship’s crew, maintain pay records, and on payday, count out the currency to be paid to each member of the crew.  The teachings of McBain and MacEvoy enabled me to leave the Navy as a DK1 (Disbursing Clerk First Class – E6). 


While I was a member of the armed forces, in November 1955 the Industrial National Bank and Manufacturers Bank merged to become Manufacturers National Bank of Detroit. William A. Mayberry was to become the Chairman of the Board for the newly merged bank, and a branch system of thirty-five offices emerged.


During my tour of duty I received an annual $25 Christmas present from the bank.  It was greatly appreciated.


While in the Navy, I married my sweetheart, and she was able to join me in California for the last two years of my tour of duty.  We will celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2004.


We returned to Michigan in late 1957, and I returned to work at Manufacturers Bank.

My salary was $300 per month, and slightly less than I had been making in the U. S. Navy.


I went through Teller Training – conducted in the Teller Training area of Michigan Griswold Office.  Bernice Salitra was the instructor.  I was assigned to the Vernor-Inglis Office upon graduation….about three weeks of class was required…..and arrived at the office in late November 1957 to begin my banking career anew.


Tom Redmann was the Branch Manager, Joe Sensoli the Assistant Manager at that time.

The General Teller was Elsa Boucher.


Two new services were now offered.  Time Savings Accounts paid two and one half percent interest.  Withdrawals could only be made at six months intervals.  Special Checking (twenty checks cost $2.50) were also introduced.  The bank kept a supply of key punched card checks in packages of 20 for each customer account.  When the customer needed a new supply of checks they came to the bank, asked for the supply of twenty checks, and their account was debited for $2.50.  There was no limit on how many checks or deposits could be made monthly….just $2.50 for each twenty checks used.  The inventory of checks, usually two or three packages, as the number of accounts got larger became a real storage problem.  We didn’t think about the risks of someone stealing checks from the unlocked drawers.  Most of the cleaning crews were bank employees, and very few non-bank employees were allowed behind the counters.  All commercial and personal checks which had been paid and posted to the customer accounts were returned to the branch office for filing each day.  At month end the printed statements were sent to the branch, and the staff had to compare the number of posted checks listed on the statement with the number of paid checks in the file, and stuff the checks and statement into an envelope to be mailed to the customer.  Statement day usually took several days of work to get all the statements mailed to our customers.  Each day the checking account bookkeeper would call the branch office with those accounts that were overdrawn.  The branch had to make a pay or return decision for each such account.  If an overdraft were approved, then the customer had to be contacted to obtain a deposit to bring the account to a positive balance again.  On Special Checking Accounts a daily printout of the accounts was received.  It reflected the beginning balance, number and amount of debits and credits posted, and the current balance in the account.  This was used to handle customer inquiries as to the balance in the account, and to verify that a check being cashed was not in excess of the balance in the account.  Holds were placed on the accounts through a telephone call to the bookkeeper if it was felt necessary.


In 1958 I was transferred to the Grand River-Dundee Office as General Teller.  I worked for Bob Clark, Branch Manager, Neil Reid, Assistant Manager, and Walter Morgan, Assistant Manager.  It was here that I was given to opportunity to begin training for front desk customer service.  Bob Clark and Neil Reid were extremely helpful in this regard, and encouraged me to continue my education, look for additional responsibilities, and were always encouraging me to further advancement.  The branch system was developing, new branches were opening several times each year, and older branch managers were reaching retirement.  It was a future filled with promise, overflowing with opportunity, and for those with a love of customer service and banking as a career, the sky seemed to be forever bright and blue.


In the early 1960’s we introduced the voice response inquiry system for branches. This involved the use of a touch tone telephone, significant key entry, and then a mechanical voice response to determine last payment made, last check paid, etc.  It was a real advance and time saving tool to handle customer inquiries.


In 1961 when the Detroit Times went out of business, I prevailed upon my twin brother Ron to join the bank.  He worked in the branches, rising to Second Vice President.  In the mid 1980’s he was transferred to the Mortgage Department and was promoted to Vice President.  He passed away in 1988 at age 53 of heart failure.  He left behind a wife and five wonderful children, two of whom were employed by NBD at the time of his death. His eldest son, Ronald, now works for Bank of America Securities in St. Louis, MO.


In 1965 I was promoted to Branch Officer and assigned to the Wayne-Warren Office (Branch #41).  My income at that time was $680 per month.


In those days our management staff was all internally generated.  We hired in as tellers, progressed through the General Teller position to Administrative Assistant, Assistant Manager, Branch Officer.  There was no other way to reach the position of Branch Officer.   We didn’t hire from the outside, and a college education was not required.  The American Institute of Banking was the way to get after work education and training, or go back to night school.  I had completed all the certificate requirements of AIB, and was attending the University of Detroit Evening College when I was promoted to Bank Officer.


It had always been my dream to earn $1000 per month, and in 1968 that dream was realized.  By that time I had a wife, two small children, a car and a mortgage payment.  We considered ourselves to be among the luckiest and most privileged in our community.  We still do.  We have lived in Livonia since 1967, and in our present home since 1973.  Both of my children ended up in the banking business.  My daughter and son worked briefly for NBD – now Banc One.  Both have other careers, but banking was in their genes.


In 1969 I opened the very first bank in the metropolitan area with bullet resistant glass above the teller cages.  The office was at West Chicago and Schaeffer, and bankers from many areas came to visit and inspect the installation.  It soon became the way all offices were built.  While its safety reasons were understood, the customer communications problems it created were not.  While operating in a temporary trailer bank I experienced the only armed robbery of my career.  The robbers were caught several months later and served time for the crime.


I served in the branches until 1973, and was assigned to the Branch Department to assume the duties as Sales Manager.  I replaced Jim Donnan in that capacity.  In 1974 I was transferred to the Marketing Department to become the Advertising Manager for the bank.  This was one of the most challenging positions that I encountered. I was promoted to Vice President in 1975.


While directing the bank's advertising in 1977 we introduced our first automated teller machines (Docutel Cash dispenser). We adopted the name of Cash Man for our machines, and used a little costumed man in green outfit with $ on his cape as our advertising hook. At the 1977 officers meeting we introduced the concept to our officers and distributed their ATM access cards at the meeting. We used two models (one male and one female) dressed in the Cash Man costume. The female model we used was Martha Smith, who had been the Playmate of the Month for July 1976 in Playboy Magazine. I didn't find this out until we were executing the modeling agreements, and since the costumes were not revealing, I agreed to her acting as our foil to the chauvinist cries we were sure would be made.


In 1979 Paul Hussey, EVP, asked me to assume responsibility for the West Region of the Branch Department  I had six divisions, consisting of 40+ offices reporting to me.  We represented about 60% of the banks retail deposits.  I again replaced Jim Donnan.  My Division Heads were Tom Sweeney, Paul Aramian, Phil Head, Ed Stuart, Steve Riga, Bruce Lyons.  My opposite number on the East side was one of my early mentors, Bob Clark.


I was promoted to Vice President and Senior Regional Officer in 1980, and to First Vice President in 1983.


In 1984 I was asked to return to the Retail Marketing Department.


I retired in 1992 as First Vice President, Retail Marketing Services.  In that capacity we developed and promoted all Retail Banking services.  We established pricing, fees, and interest rates for all bank deposit products, and developed sales incentive programs to stimulate the sales of the banks retail services to our customers.   We worked closely with Senior Management on interest rates, and with the Marketing Department in the advertising of our retail products.  The Retail Marketing budget in 1992 was about $1.5 million.


I feel extremely fortunate to have found a career, a bank, and a group of co-workers that encouraged me each day, made going to work something to look forward to, and that developed relationships that continue after fifty years and counting.  I watched the banking industry go from entirely manual to an industry that is fully automated.  From hand cranked adding machines to fully computerized teller machines.  From 10 AM to 3 PM hours to full service 7/24 ATM’s.


It was a wonderful journey, with twists and turns, ups and downs but with only a few rough and bumpy times.


I don’t think that anyone entering the wonderful world of banking today will ever have the opportunity to watch such dramatic changes, follow a career path like I encountered, and emerge at the other end with forty years of service to a single bank. 


They will not be as lucky as I was, and for that I am truly sorry.


To Paul Hussey, Larry Hemmen, Tom Fisher, John Bascom and so many others who offered encouragement and support over the years, I can never repay the debt.  My involvement in the MNB Alumni Association is one small attempt to keep the memories that I have, and I am sure that other have of this kind of work environment, alive and well.