The Real Reason the Poor Go Without Bank Accounts
By Lisa J. Servon
September 11, 2013
Growing up in the late 60s and early 70s, I went to the bank with my father as part of his Saturday errand ritual. Our bank, Pulawski Savings and Loan, was an unremarkable rectangle of a building located downtown in South River, New Jersey, the town where my Polish grandparents, and throngs of other eastern Europeans, settled in the 1930s and 1940s. Our neighbor, Mr. Konopacki, was Pulawski’s president.
My parents opened my first savings account for me when I was 7. I was given a green Pulawski passbook I brought to the bank to deposit a birthday check from my grandparents or extra allowance money. Going to the bank was something the grown-ups I knew did.
Times have changed. For my children a bank is the nearest ATM. I do most of my banking online, and on the rare occasion I go to the bank for a cashier’s check or a money order, I don’t recognize a soul at the branch, and they don’t know me.
The depersonalization of banking is widespread. But there are an increasing number of Americans who frequent alternative financial service providers where the personal relationships between the teller and the customer still matter tremendously.
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