Ashland State Bank

This past week-end, I was talking with one of our grandsons about money; and I decided to show him my bank book from the first account I ever had. I still have what in those days what was called a passbook – for those of you not old enough to remember, the bank issued something that looked like a passport that was stamped with your bank balance, including interest, each time you made a transaction at the bank.

Now in those days, 1964 to be specific, there was no such thing as online banking or anything resembling the huge technological advances we have today in electronic financial alternatives. So each time I wanted to transact any business, we got in the car and drove to Ashland State Bank, at 9443 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60620. It was down the street from the Beverly Theatre, one of the few air conditioned places we went to when it was really hot outside. We lived at 10050 S. Claremont, about 6 blocks south and several miles west of the bank. So, Saturday mornings Dad and I took the drive for me to get accustomed to putting money in my account.

I actually remember the day I opened the account – January 14, 1964, with an initial deposit of $15.00. I was so proud of myself for having saved so much – I was 10 at the time….. Dad and I walked into the bank, where he seemed to know everyone and Mr. D. B. Darling, a tall, round, bald headed man, invited us to his desk, located in the center of the bank floor, to open the account – account #13457 to be exact. We engaged in some small talk and finally Mr. Darling left us to go to the teller line and get the first purple stamp in my passbook. When he returned, Dad wrote my account number in the upper right corner of the passbook sleeve, using his traditional fountain pen with the blue-black ink. I think that was the only pen I ever saw my Dad use – it was brown, with a gold cap on it.

Anyway, as we left the bank and got back in the car, Dad turned to me and told me the story of Mr. Darling’s real name. After all, everyone called him D.B., and there were several other people I knew who went by initials – such as our carpenter, Q.V. That’s right, no name, just initials. While that was the case with Q.V., (which I always thought were pretty cool initials), Mr. Darling had a first and middle name – he was just embarrassed. That’s because his initials stood for Darling Baby! That’s right – his legal name was Darling Baby Darling – no wonder he always signed with initials instead of his given name. I never let him know that Dad had shared that information with me…

I have found that the early years of my life are recorded in those passbook pages. In October, 1964, there was a withdrawal for $40 – the first withdrawal I ever made. That’s because we wanted a dog and Dad said that we had to contribute based on our earnings. So Dad paid $100, my middle brother Doug put in $10, and I had to come up with $40. Colbert, Marquis de Toussaint, our brown miniature French Poodle joined our family that week-end – he was 8 weeks old; and he outlived my father by several months, finally passing on in late 1978. Dad loved that dog, more than I can tell you.

Money I made from cutting lawns made up the bulk of my savings. In fact, I used to cut Janet’s folks’ yard at 9912 S. Hamilton Avenue. I charged $1.25 a week, and that included sweeping the sidewalks! Dad would drop me off with the lawn mower and then pick me up when I was done. But over the years, I finally saved almost $2000. There were several withdrawals, such as when I contributed to buying my first car. But the most important money I removed from the account,  $1600, was in the fall of 1972 to have a custom platinum ring made to give Janet on Christmas Eve, the day we were engaged. There was another withdrawal for $400 the following summer to have her wedding band made and I remember that she paid the $80 for my matching white gold wedding band from her own earnings. Of course, it didn’t have any diamonds. It was the best deal I ever made – I can’t imagine my life without her.

Finally, as we moved into our apartment and we had to pay for my college tuition once we were married, the account was closed on August 30, 1973, six days after we were married and just before we headed to California for our honeymoon after the completion of my summer finals. Wow…. the stories that come flooding back from looking at that passbook.

But money is important to us, and even more important to God. Do you realize that there are more than 2352 verses in the Bible about money? In fact, there are more verses about money than any other subject, including prayer. I guess that it’s really important to God. The verse for tonight comes from Luke and is one of the foundational verses of Crown Financial Ministries, one of the premier ministries in the world dealing with financial stewardship and teaching about how God wants us to use His financial resources.

In Luke 16:11, we are told, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” In other words, if we can’t handle money properly, what does that say about our ability to handle the other heavenly riches that God has in store for us? So my encouragement this evening is to let you know that money matters to God. After all, He owns it all and we are stewards of His resources. No matter how many times I have taught that, it just seems tough for people to accept that the wealth that has been entrusted to them is of the Lord – and He owns it all. My prayer is that you will be a wonderful steward of all that God has entrusted to your care and that you will recognize that it is a sacred trust that He expects you to use to glorify Him and expand His kingdom on earth. Grace and peace….


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