– Gateway Bank was actually one of the first banks that I started at back in 1990. I had attended a teller training school and Gateway gave me an opportunity as a part time teller. I started there and moved my way up into many different roles of the bank. I went from part time teller to I forgot what they call it, the vault teller and then moved all my way up to be a supervisor and my last position there when they switched over was customer service rep.
– [Interviewer] So how many positions did you hold?
– Oh my god. Like I said I started as a teller, I was a teller supervisor, I went on to be customer service representative. I went from there to become the branch manager when they opened up another facility. Left there, worked upstairs in the behind the scenes department as they call it. That was like the depository and working upstairs in the loan department and then I ended up back downstairs in customer service so I kinda made my rounds within Gateway Bank to learn many different positions.
– [Interviewer] So Dolores, you moved a lot of money, then?
– Yes, yes I did.
– [Interviewer] Tell me about that. What kind of security measures were in place when that happened?
– Most of the money that I moved was in the vault so we had a lot of security when they bring the money in. We had security there at our facility so when they brought it in the security measures that we took is we do control a lot of the money that came in so we counted it under dual control so we noted everything was there and our vault was pretty much secured under dual control as well so two people were there to count to make sure the money was there, two people pretty much counted the vault and make sure money that went in and went out, it was dual control and signed by two different people.
– [Interviewer] So it sounds like things were in order as far as?
– Things were very much in order, yes.
– [Interviewer] That’s not something that can be taken lightly at a bank.
– [Interviewer] What are some of your personal experiences at Gateway Bank, Dolores? Do you have a particular story or two that you’d be willing to share with us?
– I do and it’s funny, I can’t remember this one lady’s name and I was talking with Larissa about it today, she was 102 years old. Well, she had gotten to be 102 years old but she was one of our members. She always spoke about I was here when the bank was open in 1965 and she had gotten to be 102 years old and she never changed banks. Although her family moved her away when she’d gotten too old to take care of herself, she had her family member to bring her back to Gateway and she always keep us laughing. When she come in we knew we were gonna have a great day because she keep us laughing and making a joke about the security officer how she’s gonna be his girlfriend so that was one of my greatest experiences. I did have another one, a young lady by the name of Miss Akerhort. She became one of my members that took me on as her daughter, she never had a daughter. She’s like you’re my daughter so she took me on as her daughter so those were great experiences for me, you know, when people get to know you and you get to know them and they take you on like that so it’s a great feeling.
– [Interviewer] Personal relationships.
– Personal relationships.
– [Interviewer] Just saying it sounds like those were.
– Yeah they were, yeah they were. They were and they still are today. I still talk with Miss Akerhort today, so. And many others that come into the St. Louis Community facility.
– [Interviewer] Boy Dolores, if you came on board in 1990, right?
– [Interviewer] I mean that’s a completely different world than what we’re hearing so much about of the ’60s.
– Yes it is, completely different.
– [Interviewer] Is it?
– Yes it is, it’s completely.
– [Interviewer] How so?
– Technology plays a big part. It’s a little bit convenient now, it’s a little better. Manual was good, that’s what I always call it between manual and technology from 1990 to now. I really wish that some of it was still in a manual world though because as far as the bank is concerned when working with employees because they’ll get to see both sides and see how it works and see how we’ve come from this to this convenient, you know, everything is quick and fast now, so. Yeah, it’s very different.
– [Interviewer] What’s different or what’s better about manual?
– Better about manually is because when the computers are not working we know how to still keep things going.
– [Interviewer] When the computers are not working, nothing’s working.
– When computer’s not working now, nothing’s working. We’re shut down or I should say if you don’t know how to do manual, we’re shut down. If you were in the manual world, you kinda say, “No, we can do this, we can do this. “Come on, we can still kinda keep some of this going.”
– [Interviewer] Cause you know that?
– I know.
– [Interviewer] Dolores, what about the cultural environment? Do you have any idea how it differed in 1990 from say 1960, did you hear stories about what went on at Gateway National back 30 years prior?
– I did hear some stories from the ’60s when it started back then and it seemed like things were, I came at the peak part of as far as manual things and how things were ran. It was a lot of paperwork, a lot of things like that so as far as that is concerned, it didn’t seem like it was much different than when I came on cause I took on some of the paperwork but I don’t know, some of the stories seemed to be the same, it seemed like I came in the middle of when it was manual and then all of a sudden it’s like bam, we switched to technology not too many years later, you know,, it just seemed quick but it was pretty much the same.
– [Interviewer] Do you have a sense, Dolores, of the role that Gateway National Bank played in the community?
– Gateway Bank I think played a great role in the community as far as it being the only black bank as they say< they always say it was the only black bank in St. Louis area and then to be in a predominantly black community, I think it played a great role. A lot of our elderly people didn’t have people to get them to the bank when I started so it was good for them to get up and go or either if they needed things the bank cared for their members so much that sometimes we went to them so I think it played a great role in that community over there as far as those members are concerned and now they’ve gotten their family members involved so a lot of them are my age I should say and they can come up and they like the bank being there cause it was convenient for them.
– [Interviewer] You started in ’90, how long were you there?
– I worked for Gateway about 18 or 19 years but I was off and on, I left, came back. Came back and then part time, full time. I was back and forth.
– [Interviewer] So where were you when it was announced that the bank was going to close?
– I was at Gateway when they announced the bank. I was back at Gateway from 2001 on til the bank closed.
– [Interviewer] What’d you think then when you heard that?
– Oh my god, I was okay. Well I kinda knew cause I watch and I paid attention to the clientele, the people that were coming into the bank. We didn’t have the long lines like we used to. We used to have long lines wrapped around and then from me working upstairs in the different departments I kinda watched the capitol, you know the bank and paid attention to how that worked and kinda like we don’t look too good but I was shocked really when they were gonna close cause usually we come back. Gateway always will go down but we always come back so that’s what made me surprised, I was like no this is not the end.
– [Interviewer] But fewer customers and less capitol, huh?
– Yep, fewer customers, less capitol, you know, loans. You know failing loans and things like that.
– [Interviewer] And you have branched out?
– [Interviewer] Where are you now?
– I am at St. Louis Community Credit Union.
– [Interviewer] I’ve heard of them.
– [Interviewer] What about that? How did you come to your present job as what, Assistant Branch Manager at St. Louis Community Credit Union?
– I was really excited to hear that they were going to purchase the facility and actually build another facility there and then not only that they were taking some of the workers there with them. Being said that is because I, you know, when I see good people, I try to bring them to the bank. Larissa’s one of them that I used to work with at a part time job and I saw how she had her children and I’m like, “Why don’t you work for the bank? “It’s good hours, you can be home with your kids.” You know, and I brought Larissa on and so it’s kinda sad when you bring somebody to the bank and they’ve been there all those years and all of a sudden it’s shut down. You know, so I was real excited about that.
– [Interviewer] And you have good reason to know the people at St. Louis Community Credit Union.
– Yes, yes.
– [Interviewer] In light of that are you glad to know that they’re the ones who have taken this over if you will?
– Yes, I am, I am very glad to know that because St. Louis Community offers a lot and that was some of the things that we tried to get Gateway to do. Gateway Bank has a lot of good investments and everything for all different walks of life I should say. So even from teenagers on up to adults, they help a lot of people and sometimes think about it and I say, “Oh I could haver spent my 18 years “at St. Louis Community,” but I’m really proud that they took it over and going to build a facility there.
– [Interviewer] And now they’re even keeping Gateway alive if you will, in name.
– Yes, I heard that they were gonna throw us in there and keep our name so that’s really exciting because a lot of them members came over from Gateway to St. Louis Community because of that reason, too, that they found out that they were gonna build another facility there and you know, they’re real excited about it, so.
– [Interviewer] Well Dolores, in light of that, what do you think St. Louis Community Credit Union’s presence means to the community with it’s investment or with keeping the name of Gateway Bank alive?
– Well I think their presence would be very welcome because like a said the members have flocked over to a lot of the St. Louis Community facilities and they’ve been with them for as long as we have been there which, you know, they kinda like it. You know, they like that we’re there because they can call us and find out where we are and ask us questions when things are going a certain way so I think their presence will be.