Graduation and Working in the Bank

High School Graduation

Around the time I graduated from high school (1945), I started working at the bank. The owner of the dime store didn’t want me to leave, but I was enticed with better pay. Plus, I loved working with money! Counting money and making sure that everything balanced felt like very important work.

I started out in the secretarial pool, typing and filing. I’d taken those classes in high school. I gained a big following with bank customers because I could process their transactions very fast. Farmers and businessmen would be in a hurry to take care of their banking—they waited in line for me because they knew I’d handle their business quickly and accurately.

The bank president, Mr. Lewis, had a reputation for being tough. But I gained his attention and figured out how to stay on his good side. He thought that I could do no wrong (even when I chatted too long with people). Soon he assigned me important duties, like checking out the tellers at the end of their shifts and typing up mortgage documents. Eventually, I advanced to Secretary to the President. Eager to learn new things, I took on every assignment he gave me with enthusiasm.

I loved working in the bank—everything about it! By the time I left the bank in 1953 (because we moved to Spooner for Jack to start his teaching career), I was an Assistant to the President and supervised the secretarial pool.

Mr. Lewis encouraged me to go to college and even told me: “you could be the first woman bank president in the state of Wisconsin.” But my dad sat me down and explained that I was married. That meant that my role was to support Jack’s career. It was the first time in my life my dad did not indulge my ambitions.

I wouldn’t work outside the home for 20 years. It was like that in those days.

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