Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Images of Bogata
This building used to be the bank in Bogata,Texas. My father worked in it for about 30 years. Bogata was a little town built on the dividing line between the Blackland and the sandy land of East Texas. Blackland is a clay type soil that grips the wheels of a car or tractor tightly when it is wet. Walking in it becomes impossible because soon the the clinging black mud will outweigh the traveler. In the summer heat, the black soil may form cracks large enough to swallow a part of the road or the garden. Children that lived on the Blackland were often not counted absent from school because the buses could not run when weather conditions were bad.
It was always a thrill for me to visit my father at work. The counters and furnishings of the bank were of a style that recalled the formality and seriousness of the bank's business. The tellers stood behind the tall counter and spoke to the customer though gated bars. The work tables on the far side of the room were tall and convenient for standing rather than sitting with tall stools to rest on. The furniture was heavy polished, oak that reminded me of libraries and dusty silence. I was impressed with reverence when I entered the bank.
The best thing in the bank was the safe. The huge door was set by a timed lock and could not be opened until the preset time arrived. Sometimes customers would be found talking and laughing about how they couldn't open their cash registers because the bank wouldn't let them have any money. I loved to enter it's cool depths. It smelled of metal and money. I never thought about money having a smell until I remembered the safe. The safe deposit boxes were there all lined up with two key holes--one for the bank's key and one for the customer's key. I thought it was marvelous.
To be allowed to explore some of the mysteries of the bank, to sit on the tall stool and view the tables where my father made careful notations on forms and ledgers, was a world I found both romantic and mysterious. I remember it now as rare and valuable time of sharing my father's life and experience.