A Second Bank

Foster Bank 02Many years before I came on the scene, perhaps a half century prior, the Western Missouri town of Foster had only one bank. It was owned and operated by a wealthy family. One day another wealthy family came to town. For reasons no one can recall, the second wealthy family fell out with the first family, yanked their assessets and built a bank of their own. I have no idea who these people were. As soon as I was aware of my surroundings the lobby of the sandstone building was rented by the storekeeper for storage for livestock feed and hay.

An undertaking parlor occupied the second floor. Sorry, I don’t know who he was either. Rumors are that he locked the door one Friday evening sometime in the 1920s and was never seen again.

The door remained locked until the mid-1950s, they say. Only when the storekeeper bought the building was there any move to unlock the undertaker’s door.

While I was still in high school, perhaps 1954, the storekeepeer hired my uncle to clear out the undertaker’s area. He, in turn, hired one of my class mates to help, and together they broke the lock. The caskets and tools of his trade were as he had left them — caskets, makeup, clothing, everything. Had it not been for a half-century of dust it one might have concluded that the undertaker had stepped out for a sandwich.

In the process of clearing out the rooms my uncle recalled that he heard my classmate gasp when he lifted the lid on a casket and found a full-sized wax dummy staring up at him.

As illustrated in the photo, the old bank is beyond repair and in another decade we may find it has returned to the elements from which it came.