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VIII.  Family Diminished

 

That weekend, Sam looked forward to meeting with Junior.  It was not often that Junior would request time they could be together and since this was apart from the bank that meant it had to be more personal in nature.

 

Junior was a person who gave considerable thought to anything that was going on in his life.  To now approach his dad meant he was reaching a launching point.

 

Joan had brought Sam a cup of coffee out to the back patio.  Sam had told her Junior was coming by at 10 so she left the coffee on the table with a cup for Junior when he arrived.

 

Sam thanked her and told her, “I think Junior wants to talk to me alone.  I do not know what he has on his mind.”

 

Joan agreed, gave Sam a kiss on the cheek and said, “You men take care of your business.  I will be inside in the kitchen if you need me.  I’ll come out later and say hello.”  Joan went back inside the house.

 

Junior had not been his usual self since the Grand Re-Branding Event and Sam wondered, “Did something go wrong?  Did Steve say something to him to upset him?”

 

He recounted in his mind, “I know that the emphasis was not on banking as such.  It was obvious that he was only a stand-by participant.  But surely he could enjoy the success of the moment.”

 

Sam continued to question in his mind, “I put a lot into that Grand Re-Branding Event.  You would think that he could at least appreciate what I did.”

 

Sam put his thoughts out of his mind as Junior drove in the drive way to the rear of his home.  Sam’s home had a drive way that you could actually drive to the back of the home or park out front.

 

“Hey, Junior, looks like you are dressed for golf this afternoon.  You have foursome already set up at the club?” asked Sam.

 

Sam waited for an answer as Junior came up to the patio table and replied, “Yeah, we are set up for a tee time at 2:00.  We are just going to play 9 holes.”

 

He explained, “Could not get in this morning.  All the tee times were taken so we just set it up for 2 and only 9 holes.”

 

Sam responded, “Well you don’t want to be chasing golf balls around in the dark – that’s for sure.  There are living things in the dark that you have to worry about.”

 

  “You want a cup of coffee?”  Sam asked, “Your Mom put that chicory nut in the coffee just for you.”

 

Junior responded, “Great, I’ll have to thank her.”  Reaching for a cup, he poured the coffee in his cup.

 

Junior decided it was best to jump right in on his reason for being there and began, “Dad you know we discussed waiting 6 months to make any kind of decisions regarding any changes regarding the bank and us staying with the bank under Uncle Steve or not?”

 

“Yes, we did and it has now been about 2 ½ months,” countered Sam, “You have something on your mind that you might be interested in?”

 

“Well, you might not like this idea, but yes, I have.  What would you say to a new bank in Lebanon?” inquired Junior.

 

“Whew,” Junior thought to himself, “I said it.  Now I wonder what he is going to say.”

 

Sam sat there stunned.  After deliberating for what seemed an eternity, he responded, “Junior, you did not come over here on a Saturday morning and give up your golf – which I know you did as tee times have never been all taken on Saturday mornings – on just a whim.”

 

Sam continued, “I am sure you have given this some thought.  Tell me what you have on your mind?”

 

Junior, feeling a little more relaxed now that his Dad had accepted his idea to some extent, said, “Look it is more than just a whim, I have already applied to the State Banking Commission for approval to have another bank in Lebanon.”

 

Junior explained, “They said it would take up to 6 months to act on the application.  The person I spoke to said that it was just a formality if I could prove that I had the proper startup credentials.  You know money; business interests; building; and need – it would be approved.”

 

“That’s a lot of ‘ifs’, but I am very serious about this,” stated Junior, “even so much; I have some architectural drawings for the building on the property I was given in Granddaddy’s will.  I have been working with the lot – playing mostly – every weekend.”

 

Sam questioned, “Wow, you are that far along without talking to me?  Why the wait?””

 

Junior came back, “Well, if I had felt the Banking Commission was not going to approve it, there be no need to talk to you or anybody else.  It would be a done thing - over and finished.”

 

He explained, “But they were very supportive if I have the unction to make it happen.  So here I am.”

 

Junior went on, “You almost turned me against my own plan with that Grand Re-Branding Event.  I kept saying to myself, you are killing me with all of this.  That was a tremendous turnout and I know the bank will reap benefits from not only the re-branding, but the changes you made as well.”

 

Sam replied, “Yeah, that was a lot of fun and I enjoyed doing it.  I had no idea what was going through your mind at the time.  You know I would not do anything to hurt you.”

 

“That’s fine Dad,” countered Junior, “no harm no foul.  My market is not necessarily going to be from that demographic to begin with although I will have to admit that you did a fantastic job for the bank, the community, and the city.”

 

“OK, this is all fine and good,” Sam got serious, “What do you have by way of startup funds?”

 

“I have held closed meetings after hours with several of my business accounts – you know Carl Estes from the mill, Ray Miller the owner of the Ford dealership, David Leland  with the poultry processing plant – all have given me assurance that they can bring their funds to the bank for an exchange of shares in the stock,” declared Junior.

 

He further exclaimed, “I also have Clyde Bonner with the feed mill company.  He is willing to bring his account plus commit a large investment to come in with us.”

 

Junior was not sure how his Dad would react to Clyde Bonner coming in.  But he would need him as well.

 

“Their deposits will be a big start but, I need you also.  With the funds you inherited from Granddaddy’s estate – that will help – not to mention the confidence the others will have if you come with us,” said Junior.”

 

Sam stated, “Coming in with you is not the issue at this point.  You and I both know Steve is going to hit the ceiling once he hears about this.”

 

“So it is obvious that I will no longer be with the bank if it is known that I am coming,” stated Sam.  Continuing, “As a matter of fact, I might as well pack my bags the minute you and I decide this is to be done.”

 

Sam declared, “I am not about to wait and let Steve get one iota of satisfaction telling me off for what is happening.  I am not going to wait for the ‘You’re fired’ routine.”

 

Sam also decided to tell Junior what had been on his mind for quite some time.  He had been quite unsettled as well but for a different reason.

 

He had totally lost interest in banking, “I want you to know that if I come over, I do not want to be part of the bank – only as a silent investor.  I don’t even want to be a stock holder.  I am not even sure – should you ask – that I would want to be a member of the Board of Directors.  I’m thinking about leaving banking for good.”

 

Junior said compassionately, “Dad, you know that if I do this, my first thought was that I would want you in the bank with me.  Second, yes, I wanted you on the Board of Directors.”

 

Sam determine to make his point with his son, “Junior, I have had it.  I am going to be 60 years old soon and I am feeling more and more each day that I want out of it all.”

 

He gathered, “It would be exciting to help you get something started, but I had pretty much already decided regardless of what you do, I was leaving the bank within the year.  And that is that.”

 

Junior laughed, “So you were making decisions without coming to me.  You were not even going to tell me before you did it.”

 

Sam responded, “Well, I guess you could say that, but at least my leaving was not going to stir up a hornet’s nest like your leaving is going to do.”

 

He went further, “I was just going to retire with a party at the bank and ride my motorcycle that Joan and both can ride.  Go see parts of the country we have only heard about.”

 

Sam continued, “Have to admit that she is not necessarily excited about the idea, but I think I can get her to go along with it.  That is regardless of what you did or what you do with a new bank.  Assuming of course that is the direction you want to go.”

 

“Well,” Junior set up straight in his chair.  He looked his Dad in the eye, “That is what I want to do.  Will you help me?”

 

“Yes, I will help you, but this has got to be the plan.  I have already considered a way out for me since I do not want stock in a bank that Steve runs.”

 

Sam shared his plan, “I am going to go to Steve and explain that I need to get in touch with my feelings or something like that.  And that I need to get out of banking.”

 

He continued, “I’ll tell him, I need to be free.  He knows and I have known for a long time that the position I have at the bank is only because my last name is Johnson and Dad was the head honcho.”

 

“I am going to tell him that I want to retire and see the country.  I think he will understand,” Sam concluded.

 

“Further that in the best interest of the bank, he needs to buy our stock or I could be a thorn in his side as an outsider.  Personally, I could put the stock up for sale to someone else if he reneged,” explained Sam.

 

  “I think Steve will go for it.  After all his return on the removal of my salary will pay the interest on any loan he makes to buy me out,” he calculated.

 

Continuing, “Now I do not – at this point – know the actual buyout figure so I do not know exactly what I can do to help you.  I do know that those funds could be deposited with you immediately.”

 

Sam instructed, “You do understand that this needs to be kept under wraps until it is decided and consummated.  I want to make my presentation on my own terms.”

 

Junior agreed and said, “As well with our conversation concerning a new bank in Lebanon.  That most assuredly needs to be hush-hush.”

 

“One more thing I need to know?” asked Sam.  “You said earlier that the Grand Re-Branding Event was not your market in the first place.  What is your market?”

 

Junior replied with a grin, “Yeah, I guess that is important.  You get caught up in dollars and you forget how you get those dollars.  Don’t laugh until you hear me out.”

 

He explained, “Number one, the bank design is to be a modern touch.  It will have large glass windows, strictly professional approach, and green shrubbery – no flowers.”

 

 Laughing out loud he continued, “Seriously, professional green landscaping for starters which will give you some idea of what to expect inside.”

 

He continued, “As you come in, I want a computer room with individual private kiosks for customers to use to manage their accounts.  They would be able to take pictures of the checks they want to deposit; and get cash like an ATM machine, receipts all right there without the aid of a teller.”

 

Explaining further, “We would have i-Tech people available to assist any questions they might have.  One i-Tech person can easily handle 5 kiosks at one time.  That is like one teller taking care of 5 people at a time.”

 

He went on, “People would even be invited in to use our kiosks to check their emails for work or pleasure; work their social media; and to communicate with others by texting or messaging.”

 

“The break room would be for the benefit of the customers as much as for the employees.  There we would have vending machines to dispense soft drinks, candy, sandwiches, ice cream, coffee, and etc.  So for outsiders, who want to come in; do their computer work; grab a snack; visit; and withdraw money from their account – they could easily do that from our kiosks without the aid of tellers,” Junior stated.

 

Junior went on to explain the use of the kiosks, “There would be a time limit on the kiosk computers when you log on so that no one could get on one and just stay there.  And as we see people waiting for a kiosk, we can add more of them.”

 

Junior did elaborate on one small factor not so welcoming, “Now you know this market is not necessarily for the senior adult community.  But, I will say that more and more of them are becoming user-friendly with computers and social media.”

 

He elaborated, “So our market would start with the millenniums down to children six and up who can work computers.  Can you believe how many kids can work computers better than their parents?”

 

Junior was getting excited the further he went, “Just think – giving an 8 year old a bank account where he/she comes in once a week to deposit his/her money would pay off dividends later in life when they go to work.”

 

“That’s not to mention what it does for the moms and dads of these children as we teach them the responsibility of money.  Think about it – who is going to drive these kids to the bank – hmm … ?  You get the picture?” laughed Junior.

 

Junior held the best for last, “Lastly, we will be business oriented.  We will have conference rooms for clients to meet with other clients if they want to use the bank facilities instead of their offices.”

 

He continued, “We will have a private parlor room – membership only – for business folks to come to just visit with others and discuss politics, business; anything they want.  Share time with other like-minded business people.”

 

Finishing, Junior laid out his parlor membership plan, “Clients would be able to enter this room only with a membership card that they will purchase annually.  With their membership, they will get complimentary drinks and snacks throughout the year when they are here.”

 

Finally, “We will have a pool table and a card table in the parlor for their entertainment.  They can talk, read, play, or eat at their hearts desire.”

 

“I intend to have attendants on hand to meet their every need for drinks, snacks, newspapers, magazines, and TVs.  We will have TVs on every wall with ear phones to watch whatever news they desire without interfering with others in the room.”

 

“I want to call it New Age Banking.  What do you think?” Junior sat back and waited for his Dad to respond.

 

Sam sat there totally dumbfounded and blown away.  Junior had indeed given this much thought and it was a style of banking that to his knowledge no one else in the industry had tried.  “Could it be done; would the investment be safe and secure; would others want to join in; and what about the business clients – would they go for it?” he questioned in his mind.

 

These questions were bouncing off the wall in his head with great speed and force.  No way had he even imagined that Junior was such a new age banking entrepreneur.

 

“Would it work?” Sam inquired, “Maybe in a large city, but Junior, do you think Lebanon is ready for such an endeavor?”  Sam wanted so much to jump on board but he needed to be assured that Junior was determined to make it work.

 

Junior had a mind for things like this and he knew the younger crowd.  If anyone could make it work, Junior would be at the head of the class.  Junior leaned back in his chair from intently looking his Dad in the eye and said simply, “Yes!”

 

Junior’s confidence sold him.  If anyone could do it, Junior could do it.

 

“Now you know that whoever you talk to about this from this day forward understands that they do not reveal anything we have discussed,” Sam sternly directed.  “This has got to be kept extremely secret.”

 

Junior, equally concerned, said, “I agree.  I also will follow your lead when you talk to Uncle Steve about your retirement.  I think he will go for it.”

 

They both agreed.  Junior went further, “Nothing by me or you is to be discussed even in private within the walls of that bank about anything we are doing.”

 

Sam explained, “You know we have those surveillance cameras that record sounds.  I put them in remember.”

 

Junior agreeing, “Yeah, I know you did.  We just need to understand that we cannot ever discuss this with anyone within the confines of the bank.  You never know who might be listening around a corner or something when we don’t know they are listening.  That includes Melissa and Carolyn – no one.”

 

Sam replied, “Agreed.  Come on inside and speak to your mother.  She wants to see you before you leave.  Talk about leaving; you have time to stay for lunch before your ‘quote-quote’ 2PM tee off time?”

 

“I want to see Mom, but I really do have to go,” Junior admitted, “And yes we really do have a late tee off time, but only because I wanted to talk to you first.”

 

“Well, before we go inside, I want you to know that you are to keep me informed of everything you are doing so I will not be blindsided by anything,” finished Sam as he got up grabbed the coffee pot and the empty cups to go inside.

 

Junior led Sam through the door.  He held the door open for Sam to bring in the coffee and cups.

 

Joan squealed when she saw Junior and ran to him to give him a hug.  “Mom, I am a grown man now and you don’t have to do that,” he whimpered knowing that he loved having his Mom hug him.

 

“To me,” Joan responded laughingly, “You will always be my baby boy no matter how much of a man you become.”

 

“How is June doing? Asked Joan, “She should have come over with you.  I just love seeing y’all.  You stay so busy these days.  We only get to see you on special days or birthdays.  That has got to change.”

 

“Talk to June about that, she handles our calendar apart from work,” said Junior, “and I really do have to go.  I have got to pick up my golf clubs and the truck and leave the car for June.”

 

“We will get together, I promise,” Junior shouted as he left by the back door.  He got in his car and backed out of the drive way.

 

Joan turned to Sam with a quizzical look on her face as to what transpired out on the patio.  “I will tell you, but not right now. Maybe in a month but right now it is best if you do not know.”

 

“Don’t get excited and don’t worry.  No one is going to be hurt.  It is just best that I need to keep this close to my chess right now.”

 

Knowing Joan, he finished, “AND since you might jump to the wrong conclusion, June is not pregnant.  It has nothing to do with new family members of any kind.”

 

Sam changed the subject, “Lunch about ready, I’m staved?  I could eat a bear.”

 

Joan knew that when Sam put his foot down, it was the end of that conversation.  Since it had nothing to do with new babies or grand children, she let it go.

 

Junior left feeling very much relieved.  He knew his Dad would go along with him, but you never know until you present it.  “Now I have to go home and tell June about it.  This is getting way to deep to keep from her – far too deep for her not to be made aware of my plans.”

 

Junior wondered how she would take it.  “I know,” he thought, “She is not pleased that things went so sideways with Granddaddy’s death, but she had to expect that.  And even if Uncle Steve had not ended up with the control of the stock, Dad would have.”

 

He guessed, “I would still be in the same boat with him as I am with Uncle Steve.  Locked in with nowhere to go.”

 

His thoughts continued to wander, “Not to mention that it is actually better with Uncle Steve than with Dad.  Uncle Steve had far more knowledge and ability in banking than Dad ever cared about having.”

 

As he drove past the re-branded Community Bank of Lebanon he silently made a mental note, “Flowers are not my thing and modernization is.  I will never have a bank that looks like that.”

 

“You don’t know if you are going to a bank or a florist.  I can just see people coming in wanting to order flowers.”  Smiling, he drove home.

 

As Junior arrived at home, he saw the SUV in the drive way so he knew June was home.

 

“She is going to be for the surprise of her life,” Junior humored himself knowing she would be elated.  He could not wait to tell her.

 

June was not one to sit back and let things just pass her by.  She would be in the middle of it regardless of what it was.

 

“The only thing I am going to have to do is make sure she does not tell anyone what we are going to do.  Any word that should get back to Uncle Steve could put us out of commission,” Junior considered.

 

He could not help but track the steps if word did get out prematurely, “I would have to leave the bank before we get the approval from the commission and before the construction is completed.”

 

Junior thought, “And it would be a calamity if Uncle Steve had to make the large loan for the lumber mill or anyone for that matter during the construction while I am getting set up.  I need that mill business.”

 

Knowing the issues at hand, he considered, “I would lose that business and it could prevent the mill from coming over as planned.  So it has to be kept completely secret from the word go.”

 

He speculated, “I don’t even know if Uncle Steve could stop the Banking Commission decision, should he find out.  But if he does not find out until it is too late; then that will help all of us complete this task.”

 

Junior added, “One thing is for sure, he will try once he finds out what I’m doing.  I just want to be as far down the road as I can that he cannot stop us.”

 

Junior went in through the garage and June was in the kitchen.  Seeing him, she asked, “I was wondering if you were coming home for lunch.  I have food in the frig and can make lunch now if you want?”

 

Junior said, “Yes, I’m starved.  I have been over at Mom and Dad’s and she had food ready, but I passed on it to come be with you.”

 

“Be with me?” June was startled but remained subdued, “That is unusual.  Usually Saturdays are spent on the golf course even in bad weather.  Now he passes up his Mother’s food to come be with me?  Whoa, something is going on.”

 

June decided that the best thing for her to do would be to start lunch and let what happens happen.  Junior had a lot of hard qualities, but she never questioned his love for her nor her love for him.

 

“Live with his attitude from time to time; his nonsensical thinking at times – yeah, but isn’t that what love is all about,” she pondered to herself as she began pulling the left over casserole from the refrigerator.

 

It was his favorite casserole and he did not care if it was left over or not – he loved it anyway.  Retrieving the lettuce and tomatoes for a salad, “What’s going on over at Mom and Dad’s?” she asked while putting corn on the cob in the microwave to heat.

 

“Well,” began Junior that is what I want to talk to you about.  But I need to take a quick shower first while you make lunch and then we will talk.”  He left the room whistling down the hall way to take a shower.

 

June was in total suspense at this point.  Junior had been over at his parents all morning and now he is coming in here and wanting to talk to her.  “Not only that … ,” she paused in the middle of her thought and questioned in her mind, “… whistling?  When was the last time she heard Junior whistle?  Or had she ever heard him whistle since they had been married?”

 

She could not remember a time as she placed the casserole in the microwave to heat it up.  She thought about it, “I’m not even sure I even knew he could whistle.”

 

“Something is definitely going on.  I may just burst out and asked when he gets back in here,” she thought placing the salad on the table in front of his place and hers.

 

The microwave brought her out of her thoughts as it beeped that the cycle was complete.  She got a hot pad to keep from getting burned and removed the casserole and placed it on the table.  She got the dishes and the eating utensils for their lunch and made two glasses of tea for them.

 

This freed up her mind to again begin to question what Junior was up to, “I hear him in the shower singing at the top of his voice.  I know either it is something big or I am going to have to call 911.”

 

“This is not Junior.  Why is it taking so long for him to take a shower?”  June wanted him to get in there – the suspense was killing her.

 

Junior came back in to the room drying his face with a towel wearing a pair of shorts and a polo shirt.  He had not even put on shoes and was barefoot.  “I’m hungry.  Great, I love ranch style casserole.  It is one of my favorites.”  He began to dig in and put the casserole on his plate.

 

“Just what I needed,” Junior exclaimed as he thought how you get into a conversation like this that I am going to have with my wife.  Talking about the food was just a method of escape until he found the opening to launch into what he wanted to tell her.

 

June was about to die with anticipation about what he had meant.  If he did not open up soon, she was going to throw something at him.  “This was enough,” she thought, “Get on with it.”

 

Junior watching her eyebrows begin to curl downward over her eyes realized he had better start spilling the beans.  “June, what would you say if I told you I was going to open a new bank,” he began.

 

He now noticed that what he felt was an inquiry in the beginning – from her expression – was now moving toward an outburst that was not completely identifiable.  “What is she thinking?” he wondered.

 

He quickly added, “Not one for Uncle Steve.  But my own bank in another location.  One that I will start on my own on the property that Granddaddy gave me on the north end of town?”

 

He hesitated until this settled in with June.  He recognized that she was in total shock and had not expected this.

 

June, trying to wrap her mind around what Junior had just said, she was pressed to respond, “Junior, what do you mean a new bank?  Are you talking about one that does business like any other bank for Uncle Steve but in another location?”

 

“Yes and no,” responded Junior, “Yes in another location, but no not like Uncle Steve or even resembling anything like it.”

 

He began to elaborate, “It would be new age banking utilizing all the latest internet and computer technology that is available on social media.  It would be banking designed for the millennium folks – those from 6 to 60.”

 

He commented on his idea, “Modern in design to attract business companies by letting them know that we are keeping ahead of the crowd in banking. Yet friendly enough to attract the general public.”

 

Junior continued, “No flowery drive lanes or a bank that looks like a florists.  We will have only greenery landscaping.”

 

“A banks where folks can come and have privacy.  Work their online banking; check emails; all without the aid of tellers.”

 

We will have a special break room for clients and employees as well.  A client membership parlor for business people to enjoy the company of other like-minded business people.”

 

Junior again starting to get excited just thinking about it, “We will have not one conference room, but several so that businesses can conduct business here without having to use their company offices.”

 

He continued to expound upon his ideas, “Companies would be on an equal status with each other without someone feeling embarrassed because their offices do not measure up for meetings.”

 

He finished, “We will have a friendly atmosphere with attendants instead of tellers and business guidance advisors instead of loan officers.  It will be called the New Age Banking of Lebanon.  What do you think?”

 

“Gosh, Junior, so many questions,” she started.  June had a business mind and understood new concepts probably better than Junior.  The fundraisers she had run were all new concept fundraising and had been highly successful.  It was because she knew new and innovative ways of raising money.

 

“And would these new ways equally blend well with the business community?” considered June. “She knew Junior needed her with him more than he needed his Dad.”

 

Junior understood that without June getting on board, the road ahead would be bumpy at best and non-existent at least.

 

June started, “I guess, I would start with the first basic question, how you get the funding for such an endeavor?” she asked.

 

In between bites of casserole, Junior began to tell her about his meeting with Sam that morning.  “That’s what Dad and I talked about.  I have the lumber mill, the Ford dealership, and the poultry plant managers and owners ready to go with me now.”

 

“Dad has agreed as such also and will invest his funds as well including the inheritance.  That in its self is a great sum of money.”

 

He saved the last person for last, “And Clyde Bonner with the feed mill company is going to join with us.  He has been banking out of town since he and Uncle Steve do not get along.”

 

He continued, “I have already applied with the Banking Commission in Knoxville and they have practically assured me that I will get the approval especially if I have the necessary funding.”

 

Junior paused to take another bite of casserole.  He took time to make a run across the corn cob with his mouth.

 

Excitedly talking with food in his mouth, he continued, “The land I have; and the construction can be handled through the bank as a loan if needed.  I can work that out without any questions from the commission.”

 

Junior did not want to go too far with that explanation.  June might see a conflict of interest so he bounced away from that quickly and moved on.

 

After a large bite of his salad, he continued, “With the building I want to construct; I feel it can be done in 6 months.  It is going to look – at the start like a children’s daycare center – and at some point, I will move in a double-wide trailer for operation until it is complete.”

 

Explaining, “I will start conducting business when it seems natural to expose what we are doing.  Uncle Steve will not even know what we are doing until we start operating.”

 

Finishing, he said, “I do not want him finding out about the Banking Commission’s approval or anyone in town to find out what we are doing other than the investors.  I am instructing everyone not to share the information with anybody – best friend, confidant or whatever – no word whatsoever.  As you know surprise is an important element to success.”

 

June listening intently had gotten up to get more tea for both of them.  While she was up, she prepared two cups of ice cream for dessert.

 

She came back to the table and handed Junior his ice cream.  Sitting down, she was trying to keep from shouting right there at the table.

 

It sounded so great and with all the innovations Junior was putting in banking, it seemed to her that it would be a great success.

 

But if she were to jump in too quickly, Junior might not find he needed to include her as much as she wanted to be.  So she said, “Junior, you know I love you, and I want the best for you and us.”

 

“You know also that I will always have your back and help you as much as I can.  This sounds so fantastic and new, I wonder if the folks in town will have your back as well?” she asked.

 

Junior replied, “When they see what all we are going to do.  Yes, I think they will come around.”

 

He warned, “It will take a while at first for everyone to see how different we are and what we offer, but when they realized what a concept we have and how easy it is to handle their account on line they will start coming in droves.”

 

Junior further said, “Eventually, I envision that we will have a whole second floor with nothing but private kiosks equipped with computers; a break room; and i-Tech attendants to give assistance as needed.  Who knows we might even reach 3 or 4 stories as we add services to the bank.”

 

Excitedly, he added, “It is my plan to use i-Tech people to conduct seminars during the summer for the kids out of school.  Just think – teach them how to conduct banking online with us and we get their business while they are young – … and … they stay with us when they enter the labor market.”

 

Finishing off his ice cream, Junior reached over for what June had pushed away.  She was always concerned about her weight and she should be.

 

She was a beautiful woman and took care of herself.  When it comes to ice cream though, she will eat only a few bites and then let him have the rest which he loves.

 

Junior elaborated, “Think about it June, we will have a business man’s parlor.  You know where business men can come and visit with other business men; talk politics; get free coffee, drinks, and snacks from our attendant; watch the news on TV; or catch up on their reading.”

 

He excitedly exclaimed, “There is no such place now in Lebanon and we are going to have one that you can enter only by a card membership.  Membership gives you the right to the facilities and free snacks and drinks.”

 

June had heard enough.  “I’m excited.  When do we start?”

 

Well,” concluded Junior, “as I have said, I have already gone to the Banking Commission.  We wait for their approval and in the meantime I am going to get final drawings for construction and have the attorneys set up the investor agreements for consummation.”

 

Warning, Junior said, “Until then, we tell no one and we do not talk about it except when we are home alone.  Don’t talk to Joan and especially Sandra, period.”

 

“We do not want to take any chances on Uncle Steve throwing a monkey wrench in the middle of this.  Can you handle it?” he asked.

 

June excitedly wanted to jump up and down, but composed herself and said, “You not only can count me in.  You can count on me.”

 

Junior said, “Well I have a tee time at 2, but we are only going to play 9 holes.  I will be in early and maybe we can go to that sports grill in Nashville that you like and celebrate!”

 

“Look forward to it,” responded June as Junior grabbed his shoes and slipped them on.  He jumped up grabbed his golf clubs and left through the back door to his SUV.

 

She heard him drive out the drive way.  At this point she let loose with the loudest shout she could muster.

 

June had felt that they had gotten a bad arrangement with the settlement of Walter and Dessie’s estate, but kept her silence.  The primary recipients were Sam and Uncle Steve.  Plus Junior was pleased to get the property and now with his immediate plans, she was pleased for him.

 

A week had passed since Junior had his meeting with his Dad concerning the New Age Banking project.  All that was needed now to get the ball rolling was the approval from the banking commission.

 

With the addition of his Dad joining with him and the other participants, Junior had what he needed for the capital requirement.  Based on that information, the Banking Commission approved the project.

 

It was understood that they would oversee his operation for six months sending in auditors each month.  With a clean bill of health each month, he would receive his final certification as a full-fledged bank within the year.

 

In order to keep everything silent; Junior used a personal friend, Craig Hendricks, as the architect.  Only he knew what the final building was going to be.

 

For his silence, he was promised stock in the new bank.  Craig was going to design the building for future expansion for adding more floors but the initial construction would be only one floor.

 

To everyone else, Junior devised a plan to call it a children’s daycare center.  With normal room layouts that would be needed to separate the children for a daycare facility; Junior could easily work with his friend to lay out the actual bank floor plan.

 

Should someone actually see the drawings and wonder what was being done; they would not question the way rooms were being divided.  It would be apropos to the design of a daycare facility.

 

Junior chose not to publicize the building even as a daycare facility.  He chose to just quietly go about the construction with the Extreme Construction Company that his Dad had used to make the changes at the bank.

 

Again to accept the project without final funding for the building, Joaquin Reynolds agreed to accept stock in the bank and to keep silent the ultimate end project.  He was told that if there was a question – just mention something about a child daycare facility.

 

Junior had his approval from the commission; his architect; and his construction company.  He had his investors; his Dad; and all he needed now was time to get it all done.  Even with all of this, he knew that he would have to be less than truthful with his Uncle Steve.

 

Steve drove purposely by Junior’s lot the next morning on the way to the bank to see again what was happening before he met with Junior.  He was surprised to see workers there laying plastic pipes for water and sewer where he thought the building was being located.

 

Others were working with the lot layout getting ready to lay rebar for the parking lot.  Still others were forming the curbs for the entrance not in only one location, but in the front and the side near the street adjacent to the lot.

 

Extreme had put up an “Under Construction” sign with their name on it but did not mention what the project was.  They were abiding by the wishes of Junior to not disclose the nature of the building.

 

Something definitely was going on and he could not wait to talk with Junior about it.  “Not letting grass grow under his feet certainly applied to Junior, but this is even quicker than that,” he thought.

 

Arriving at the bank, he went immediately to his office.  Junior was not there just yet.  “He is probably checking on his construction site before coming to the bank,” figured Steve.

 

Sam came in thru the front door and went immediately to his office.  Steve thought about going over and asking him, but decided against it since it was Junior he needed to ask.

 

Junior came bustling in with the mail from the post office.  He entered from the side door and went immediately to his office.

 

Steve had not seen him come in as he was looking toward the lobby.  Seeing Steve standing out near the lobby, Junior came up behind him.  “Good morning, Uncle Steve,” he started.

 

Steve jumped.  He was so intense on looking for Junior to come in from the front door that when he came up behind him, it caught him off guard.

 

Turning, Steve exclaimed, “Hey, Junior, you startled me.  You should not slip up behind an old man.  You might cause him to have a heart attack.”

 

Junior started laughing and said, “You are not old and your heart is as strong as a horse.  That is the least of my worries.”

 

Steve shook off the moment and said, “Say, I went by your property this morning and they are working it like a swarm of bees.  Everyone is doing something.  Looks like they are going to have something ready to go up within the week the way they are going.”

 

Steve asked, “What have you got going on?”  “Might as well get it out in the open,” he thought.

 

Junior knew at this moment, he would have to be convincing and felt reasonably sure he had a proper explanation.  He said, “I have leased the property with a building to a firm in Nashville that is going to put in a child daycare center.

 

He explained, “They are funding the building and the construction cost and paying me for the lease.  It is a win-win proposition.”

 

Junior confirmed, “I have an agreement that if they fail for whatever reason, I get the building after they vacate the premises.  I’ve been working on this for awhile but did not want to say anything about it until I got the final go ahead on the property which we got last week.  The paperwork was finalized yesterday.”

 

He explained, “I had already set an appointment with a title company about a month ago without all the proper documentation since the will was not probated completely.  I assured them it was going to be OK and even had Warner give them a call.”

 

“They went ahead and completed the title research and set up the meeting for this afternoon.  So everything should be as it should be.”

 

Junior’s mind was running in circles trying to determine if Uncle Steve was buying what he had said, “There it was – my story and I am sticking to it.  Surely it would satisfy him.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” said Steve, “I knew you would do something with it.  It has sat there for so long, I am surprised that Dad never did something like that years ago.”

 

Steve relented, “More power to you – go make some money on it.  If they default, I might want to look at taking it off your hands, for a family discount of course.”

 

“Yeah,” came back Junior laughing, “I’ll see your family discount and raise you 25%.  Two bankers trying to outsmart each other not good.”

 

Junior declared, “I have two people coming in this morning concerning loans for a home so I better get something started before they get here.  Is there anything else?”

 

“No, go to it and good luck with your venture,” concluded Steve.  “Progress is what I like in Lebanon.”

 

Junior – first went to his Dad’s office before going to his own office.  He wanted to make sure they were on the same page.

 

“Dad as we discussed last night, I told Uncle Steve I had leased the property for a building for a child daycare center.  He bought it so just tell him the basics if he asks.  Stay out of the weeds and we will be OK.”

 

Sam answered, “Fine, I’ll handle it.  It’s not up to me to know the details anyway, it’s your project.”

 

Junior went back to his office and Carolyn brought him the preliminaries for the upcoming loan projections for the two homes.  “John Morgan is coming in first with his wife and they should be here anytime now,” she informed Junior.

 

Carolyn continued, “Jimmy St. John and his wife are scheduled for 10 this morning.  We should be through in plenty of time before that with the Morgan’s loan.”

 

“Junior, I overheard your discussion with Steve.  So you have leased the property to a child daycare center out of Nashville, asked Carolyn, “and they are building their own facility?  Sounds like a good project for you.”

 

Junior knowing that she must be made aware also, said, “Yes, you know the state coding for daycare centers; they will be building their own building according to their required codes.”

 

He instructed Carolyn, “Until this gets done or at least further down the road; we probably do not need to promote what they are doing.  Better to not get anyone’s hopes up just yet.”

 

Junior exclaimed, “Let’s see their building get off the ground first.  I don’t doubt their ability, and I stand to gain either way; so let’s let them make it on their own.  We don’t want to get the bank involved until we see their success.”

 

Junior thought to himself, “This is beginning to sound real to me.  Maybe a child daycare center is what Lebanon needs more than another bank,” then he countered with his thought, “no, that is not right and besides I am a banker not a baby sitter.”

 

Junior quickly turned his mind to the two loan applications being processed for the day and put the thoughts of a child daycare center out of his mind.

 

He was now free to leave the bank anytime he wanted to inspect what was taking place with the building and the lot without Uncle Steve or anyone else peering over his shoulder.  They considered him a business man of his own accord and stepping out on his own.

 

A month went by.  Junior watched intently the construction of the building.  Checking the architectural blue prints, and making sure everything was as he wanted it to be.

 

Most did not question his concern as they just thought he was acting as a concerned business man over his first major project.  It was to be expected.

 

Steve was even impressed that Junior took such an interest.  He did want to address that the loan applications seemed to be dropping off since the beginning of construction especially from the larger institutions.  They normally, at this time of the year, were apprehensive about their inventories.

 

Weather was always a problem for Lebanon in the winter months and most of the businesses would increase their inventories during the summer and fall months.  That would give them the time to withstand the road conditions during winter when it was difficult to get products delivered.

 

Steve even planned for these loans by making sure he had ample capital available from the clearing banks.  But this year seemed to be different.

 

The Ford dealership that required so many cars on consignment had not come in.  The lumber mill certainly was going to face a shortage as timber could not be easily gotten during winter months.

 

Steve thought, “I will definitely want to bring that up in the morning at our briefing.  I need to stay behind this with Junior.”

 

Sam had scheduled a meeting with him for that afternoon.  He might even want to discuss the inventory loans with him as a preliminary to the morning briefing.

 

“Plus I have a luncheon scheduled with the Kiwanis Club at noon.  I can touch base with several of his business contacts there to see what might be transpiring with business in Lebanon.”

 

He checked with Sherry to see if anything required his immediate attention and it did not, so he told her, “I’m going to get the oil changed in my car and then to the Kiwanis for lunch.  I should be back by 1:00 or 1:30.  Sam is due in at 2:00 so I will be back in plenty of time.”

 

Sherry shoed him out; dismissed him; and sent him on his way.  “The bank can run without you for a few hours,” she said.

 

Sam met with Junior at the local Subway for a quick lunch.  He wanted to tell him that today was going to be the day.  Sam said, “I have a meeting with Steve this afternoon and I am going to tell him that I want to leave and to sell my stock in the bank.”

 

Junior looking somewhat dismayed asked, “Are you sure this is the right time?  Extreme is moving quickly on the building.”

 

Sam replied, “He has got to have time to raise the money to buy my stock and the longer I can give him the better chance I have of getting what I want.  If I pressure him, he could make an under market offer and say that it is all he can raise at the moment.”

 

Junior understood and exclaimed, “Yeah, it looks like we are going to have to move on any way as they are flying with the construction on the building.”

 

“It looks like they will have it ready in 3 to 4 months.  We could be in the building by the beginning of winter,” declared Junior.

 

He explained, “I already have a double-wide set up for next month.  Extreme is going to set it up for me.”

 

He explained, “I have been assured the parking lot will be completed.  With that we can start processing business loans.”

 

Bringing Sam up to date, Junior replied, “The comptroller at the mill and the poultry processing plant are already pressing me for inventory loans that they normally get with Uncle Steve.  They are concerned with the upcoming weather.”

 

“OK,” concluded Sam, “I will make my move this afternoon.  I may not even be back in the bank in the morning.  I am going to give him first option to pick up my stock by the end of the month and then you will be on your own.”

 

“Wow,” Junior said, “this is really going to happen.  I guess the next few weeks are going to be rather turbulent for all of us.”

 

“You better believe it.  I know Steve and he is not going to take what you do laying down so get ready for a fight.”

 

He declared, “You might even have to adjust your interest rates on the inventory loans to keep them in the fold.  But for a start-up, you can do that and then when you renew next year, they will be locked in.”

 

Sam declared further, “You will have your feet on the ground and with your amenities that should give you an edge.  After all Steve will be offering flowers and you will have the professional technological touch.”

 

“OK, do your thing,” exclaimed Junior.  “I think I will stay out of the bank this afternoon and let you and Uncle Steve go at it.  He can’t say too much to you after all the help you have given him over the years.  I am sure he would love to have your stock.”

 

Junior explained, “Plus Uncle Steve can borrow all the money he wants to buy you out.  He can make payments on what he saves with your salary package.”

 

“I know that he will not replace you in the bank so it is win-win for him.  He may jump up and down at the outset, but in the end I think he will settle down,” concluded Junior. 

 

Sam disclosed to Junior what Joan had in mind, “I have got to run.  I need to go by the post office and get my passport application.  Joan is talking about trips abroad; cruises; and who knows what she will come up with.”

 

Junior had one more question for Sam, “How is Mom taking all of this?  Have you told her what I am doing?”

 

Sam answered as he took the last swallow from his drink, “She only knows that I am leaving the bank and selling my stock to Steve.  I told her about that and swore her to secrecy.”

 

Sam winked, “She even thinks that might be what you and I were talking about the day you came over and told me your plans.  Right now she thinks you are setting up a daycare center.”

 

Sam further determined, “I figured it would be best to just keep her in the dark about what I know.  When it is time to tell her, we can tell her together.”

 

Sam explained, “When you move the double-wide in; come over and we can tell her then.  I will tell her why we could not tell her earlier.  She will go along with it.”

 

Junior let out a sigh of relief, “Great, I know I might lose Uncle Steve.  He is not going to like it.”

 

“But I certainly do not want to lose a Mom in the process.  I want her to fully understand why I had to be underhanded about this, especially working with Uncle Steve,” he went on.

 

“Oh,” Sam stood up and opened the door to leave, “she’ll understand.  Trust me.  She is still not happy about the settlement of the estate and this is one way it will right a wrong for her and her immediate family.”

 

“Go for it, she will be behind you as will I.  Maybe I will see you at the bank in the morning or maybe I will not,” Sam laughed all the way to his car.

 

Sam was really glad to be thinking about getting out of banking for the first time.  “A new day; and a new life begins;” he thought, “and the New Age Bank is born for Junior.  It could not be a better day.”

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