So can anyone out there remember where they were working in 1988? And how many people keep in touch with old co-workers 20 years later? Aren't half of them dead or living at a Buddhist commune in Nepal, anyway?
Former employees at what was once a Baltimore institution, Equitable Bank, have no problems remembering.
As the defunct Baltimore-based bank approaches the 20th anniversary of its demise, former staffers can enthusiastically remind us how great it was: It was the little retail bank that could, taking credit for many firsts, including the first drive-through windows here, the first ATMs (Harvey Wallbanker), and the first telephone bill-paying service. And though it merged with Maryland National Bank in 1989, former Equitable employees remain oddly, and fiercely, loyal to what they say was a home-grown institution with a unique corporate culture. So loyal, in fact, that nearly 120 of them attend an annual dinner to remind one another of just how great it was.
They consider each other family, and in some cases it became literal: The energy that fueled customer-service innovations during the bank's heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s also inspired long-lasting friendships, romances, marriages, and, yes, divorces.
"People really cared about one another," Ellie Meyd, a former assistant VP of marketing, said at the most recent reunion held this summer at the Crowne Plaza Baltimore hotel in Timonium. Boardroom boundaries were admittedly fuzzy. By day, staff members and executives observed a traditional hierarchy; by night, they all trouped off together to happy hour where first names were de rigueur.
"We worked hard and played hard," remembers David Henry, former retail banking area supervisor. "It was a unique time and a unique culture. We covered for one another. No one took advantage of other people's problems or mistakes. We were all proud to be a part of that team."
During the last dinner, one former employee brought greetings from Edna Magenhoffer, who, at 103 years of age, was unable to attend the festivities. Oh, and George Stiemely was there. He hasn't missed a dinner in years. That may not be an astounding fact by itself, but George was the Pinkerton guy who guarded the lobby of the bank's Operations Center—technically, not even a bank employee. But he's nevertheless an honorary Equitable alumni. After all, family is family.