“Too Soon"

Several years ago I helped my mother produce a history book about her beloved hometown.  During her research she ran across a fascinating piece of evidence concerning a local bank.  The bank went through a change of ownership in 1909, but the reason for the shakeup was always shrouded in mystery.  What my mother found was a page from the minutes of a meeting of the bank’s board of directors, which made everything clear.

Apparently, one of the clerks, the son of a major shareholder, had been caught with his hand in the till.  The board had to decide what to do with him, and what they decided to do was nothing.  His infraction was deemed perfectly understandable, “owing to his recently having become a motorcar enthusiast.”  It was true even then.  Those cars will bleed you dry.

Bank examiners found the young man’s misdeeds somewhat less forgivable, and the board’s decision to keep an embezzler on the payroll, even more outrageous.  The examiners cleaned house.  The bank was ordered to find new owners and new directors.

My mother noted the change of ownership in her manuscript, but added none of the colorful details.  “You at least need to use the quote from those minutes,” I told her, “it’s precious.”  “No,” she said, shaking her head, “It’s too soon.”  Even though I pointed out that the incident had happened years before she was born, and nearly eighty years had passed since then, she was adamant.  “No.  Too soon.  Too soon.”

Our exchange came to mind recently while I was researching my own book about Thomas Lovewell and the settlement of the norther tier of Kansas counties, when I was made privy to a secret.  One of the characters in the book, not a major player, but a lady who gets a few mentions here and there, was at one time a prostitute.  She was also a godsend to those who were dear to her, since even in hard times she was flush with cash, and she was very generous.  I learned everything that I could about her life, and wound up using none of the information.

Like a lucky few of the characters standing in the wings in Thomas Lovewell’s story, she lived a long, full life, passing away in sunny California about the time I started school.  There will be a time someday when her story should be told, but it’s not today.

Don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming.  It’s just too soon.     

© Dale Switzer 2016  dale@lovewellhistory.com