As soon as we set foot on campus, we received sound advice from the Williamstown National Bank, located on Spring Street. Its advertisement in the Eph Williams Handbook read: “To the Class of 1968: WHY NOT OPEN A CHECKING ACCOUNT NOW?” The advantages were listed: “1. No danger of stolen cash 2. Establishment of credit 3. Convenient and safe for mailing 4. Written account of expenses 5. Evidence of bills paid.”
In fact, for worldly entering freshmen, confronting new responsibilities from all directions, this was a no-brainer. With our own account, we could cash checks received from home and paychecks from the College for hours of student employment worked, and write checks for our books, clothing, ski equipment, etc.
Frankly, what mattered to us in the fall of 1964, as we started down our undergraduate paths, was that we were gaining greater control of our young adult lives. And if dire overdraft warnings might eventually bite us in the future, that was of no immediate concern. For personal checking was but one more symbol of our well-deserved independence and manly personal growth, along with our driver’s licenses and dorm room keys (not to mention draft cards). Not to mention actually being addressed in class, from day one of freshman year, as “Mister.”
Looking back at this from the vantage point of today, at least we were immune from the later student scourge of crushing credit card debt, since at the time the banking community did not yet see us as worthwhile pigeons to receive tempting plastic that might lead us to fiscal ruin.