On Monday, Oct. 7, 1940, I started to work as a junior messenger. It was the first day of my career with the First National Bank of Boston. Little did I know — little did THEY know — that it was the beginning of a 40-year association with the bank.
The work week was six days: 9 to 5 Monday through Friday (one hour for lunch) and 9 to noon on Saturday for a total of 38 hours.
The pay was $65 per month, $780 per annum.
Health Insurance and retirement plans were years away.
The work uniform was very simple — dark suit, white shirt, dark tie, haircut when your boss told you it was needed.
When outside the bank, a hat had to be worn — a gentleman’s felt hat.
No smoking between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. — as long as the bank was open to the public.
We were the “class of 1940,” men hired as messengers in that year. In the years to come, most of us were engaged in the war and then returned to the bank. Some of us were promoted to middle and senior management positions.
To the best of my knowledge there were no married women working in the bank.
There was no overtime. The messengers had to help once a month with the mailing of statements. This was a three-hour job. On the day before statement day, we would be given a four-hour lunch break from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
One of the guys suggested we go to the morning show at the Old Howard. The Old Howard provided a burlesque show.
Our imaginations went way beyond the reality. We were all in the middle stages of growing up. However, the law still considered us children until we achieved the age of 21.
About six of us decided to go. We had purchased some fake mustaches.
We saw the show: By today’s standards it would be a weak PG13.
At noon, the lights went on and there was a group of people selling French postcards. There were 10 different sets of three cards each, costing $1. Each of us bought a different set.
They told us it was against the law to open them in the theater.
We went back to the bank. I was the first one to get into the privacy of the men’s room and I opened the envelope.
They were French postcards all right. I had a nice picture of the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon and Paris at night.
I received my bill from the Groton Electric Light Company.
Enclosed was a letter that stated the cause for a rate increase. In my opinion, it was one of the finest explanation letters — not excuses — that I have ever seen.
I compliment the Electric Light Commissioners, the management and people of the Groton Electric Light Department.
“A bachelor’s life is a fine breakfast, a flat lunch and a miserable dinner.” — Jean de la Bruyere
Bill Miller is a Marine Corps veteran, retired banker and the current veteran’s agent for the town of Groton.