and Yankee Had Different Solutions to the Bank's Moveby
may be common place today, but 40 years ago when Galvestonís
Moody National Bank wanted to move into a modern facility, it was considered almost
an act of heresy to leave the building where a bank had been founded for new quarters.
I recall the reason they gave had something to do with the old bank building
not looking stable to the customers.
So trying to find executives and
labor and law enforcement who had ever moved a bank wasn't an easy task, even
if the move was to be no more than a block away.
This one was to take
place on a Friday night after the bank closed, president Carey Mayfield reasoning
that the bank in its new facilities could certainly be up and running by the following
"Good lord, we're only moving around the corner,"
he kept reminding the skeptics. "And all of the office furniture is new and
it's already over there, so we won't have to move any of that from the old bank,"
he would then add, almost like he was giving himself some needed logic and assurance
to hold on to.
It turned out Mayfield was right about everything except
the moving of the enormous banks of safe deposit boxes that were recessed into
the wall of the vault. And that was forgivable, for after all the accrual of all
of the weight in those things was immeasurable by staring at them. And you certainly
couldn't expect the customers to line up and let you see inside of their boxes
so the weight could be estimated. So it was difficult to know how to prepare.
Mayfield liked to steer bank business to customers. When the move planning
was going on, Don Webb was in to make a deposit one day. He owned a wrecker service,
locksmith shop, and vehicle repair business out on what we called "S"
Road in those days.
Photo courtesy Vivian Webb Latimer
| Mayfield came out
of his office and said, "Don, got any idea how we might move those safe deposit
box vaults to the new building?"|
"No problem," Webb said
right away, "I'll take care of it and send you the bill. You know I'll treat
you right. Leave it 100% up to me." So Webb was hired on the spot.
as the day of the move approached, Mayfield started to get concerned that Webb
might not be able to deliver on his promise. So the Friday morning before the
move, Mayfield called a safe company in Houston, explained the problem and the
dilemma, and they said they'd take care of it.
Now how to tell Webb that
he was un-hired. Mayfield came up with an ingenious plan. He made Webb a temporary
"vice president" of the bank, and immediately promoted him to being
the bank officer in charge of the move, and he not only called and told Webb of
his good fortune, but also reminded him that bank officers were required to wear
suits. He needed to come in his coat and tie, Mayfield said.
So all day
Friday, Don Webb was walking around the bank surveying the situation, giving advise
here, and instructions there. And then about 5:30 P.M. the safe movers from Houston
showed up. Webb told the fellows he was in charge, and asked them how they planned
to get the huge banks of safe deposit boxes out of the vault wall, across the
lobby, down the stairs, into the huge moving truck, over to the new bank building
and into the wall of the new vault.
The superintendent gave him some cockamamie
story. Webb responded, "Have you ever done this in your entire life?"
He assured Webb that he had. Webb defaulted to his own intuition and he began
hovering over them like a vulture in his Sunday church suit.
the trim pieces of the safe deposit vaults, then started to try to pry them out
with long pry bars. They wouldn't budge. Webb said, "OK, here's what we're
going to do. I'm going to back my wrecker up to the front door. We'll add some
lengths to the wrecker's cable, and we'll bring it across the bank lobby's floor,
and thread it around the back of the safe deposit vault. Then I'll go turn on
the wrecker's winch, and we'll ease them out. Then we'll manhandle them onto dollies
and then we'll be all set."
What a plan, they thought. Webb went
into Mayfield's office and asked for permission to take off his coat and tie for
this procedure. He explained to Mayfield, "Wreckers are like Harleys. You
just don't get any where around them in a coat and tie." Mayfield gave in.
Webb backed his wrecker up to the steps, unhitched the long cable, and
attached another couple of lengths. About then the superintendent from the safe
company came up to Webb and said that he was taking over. "We need my experience
here," he told Webb, in a condescending manner.
Webb went to the
restroom, put back on his tie and coat and combed his hair and came back to supervise.
When he came into the lobby, the big cable was about five feet off of the floor
and taut. It was wrapped around one of the big banks of safe deposit boxes in
the wall, and the superintendent was standing beside Webb's wrecker getting ready
to engage the winch.
"Are you sure you want to do that, Yankee?"
Webb shouted. Webb always called people from the north side of the causeway, Yankee.
"Stand back," Yankee ordered Webb, and then he revved up the
wrecker's engine and pushed the winch handle forward.
Out of the recessed
wall flew the bank of safe deposit boxes. For a moment they actually looked like
they were flying, and then they realized that they were nothing more than massive
dead weight, so they crashed on the lobby's floor with a noise that would rival
any reasonably size explosion. Everyone in the building fell to the floor, too.
Webb yelled, "Good job, Yankee. Hope you've got insurance, "
and then he and Mayfield went across the street to the Turf Grill for coffee and
Cherry's Galveston Memories
October 5, 2008 column
Copyright William S. Cherry
All rights reserved
Texas | Online
Magazine | Galveston
Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime
columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston
Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and
Amazon.com and other bookstores.