St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cushing Bank reaches 100

As part of my volunteering at the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society centered in uptown Cushing, I do the newsletter.

This year, June 10th, 2014. marks the 100th anniversary of the Cushing Bank, and I am doing some research on the early history of the bank.  
About 10 years ago

 About 1917

I visited with Mike Jensen, current banker in Cushing and Stan Peer, banker here 1959-Jan 1, 1963.  Mike talked about the changes from being part of 1st Bank of Grantsburg on the way to becoming U. S. Bank, and the new building (about 1963 with an addition later).  He suggested I visit Stan Peer an earlier banker. 

Stan Peer came to Cushing from Turtle Lake primarily recruited to be a Cushing Tiger by coach Vern Schill.  Vern had decided to make the Cushing Tigers the premier small town baseball club in the area and got the town of Cushing behind him.   If you were a great baseball player, Cushing would find a job for you in town!

Stan came and took the banker position vacated by Bill Jensen (hardware store owner Nicky Jensen's son)  also a Cushing Tiger, who was moving to Oklahoma to further his banking career. 

Walter Jensen, brother to Nicky had been an earlier Cushing banker who moved on to the mother bank in Grantsburg (as had Burnell Hanson) and others.  Cushing was the trial period for new bankers who were baseball players. 

Stan said that most of the time he was in Cushing, the folks who came in talked a little about their banking needs, and a lot about the Tigers.  

Buz Carlson, Tiger player and later manager, managed the co-op feed mill.  George Laier and later Arnie Sorenson managed the Cushing Co-op store (both long time Tigers).  Al Peer, Stan's older brother, took over the south bar.  Jim Englehart ran the barber shop and his brother Ole worked at Jensen's hardware.  At one time six of the team were all in Cushing.  

 Stan was the youngest of the three Peer brother's of Turtle Lake, all pitchers.  "We spent most of our spare time as kids practicing," said Stan.  "Al was 7 years older than me and I had to catch his practice pitching--I was scared stiff behind the plate as he was a very strong thrower." 

"In 1960 (?) when we were raising funds for the new ball field, we had an exhibition game where Satchel Paige, then close to 60, was the star attraction.  We had the largest crowd probably ever assembled in Cushing.  My brother, Arnie, got a hit off of Paige (who only pitched a couple of later innings), but Paige picked him off at second.  He had a 'hesitation pitch' which got batters confused."

"The shortest commute I ever had to work was at the banking job at Cushing.  The living quarters for the banker were attached behind the bank.  I opened the door to our bathroom--closed it and walked through into the bank--the bathroom was shared by family and customers."   

"The bank had a very uneven floor that we had replaced when I was there.  Under the floor when it was torn out were some old stock certificates--wished I had saved a few."

"One of the bankers who had been in Cushing, during the 40s, I think, had brought in a cutting torch and had started cutting a hole in the bank vault door.  He worked on it at night, and hung a calendar over the hole during the day.  He got caught before he finished the hole."  

"Banking was mostly for farmers in the Cushing area.  Most of them were dairy farmers, so there wasn't much seasonal demand like there is now with crop farmers.  By far the biggest account was Roy Brenizer, who got into selling prize breeding cattle.  I think one of his bulls sold for a million dollars, a very big account for a small bank like Cushing."

"I moved to the Grantsburg bank on Jan 1, 1963.  I think 1963 or 1964 was when they built the new bank in Cushing."

"Cushing was quite a town back in the 50s and 60s when I was there.  Baseball was really the focus of everyone in town and around the area.  My brother Arnie owned the south bar, and one day when he was practicing pitching on mainstreet, he threw the ball right through the center of the big glass window in the bar.  It was so expensive to replace it, he decided to remodel the whole front of the bar instead."    (Do you remember this when the log siding was put on and smaller windows replaced the big one?)

Last days of the old Bank of Cushing - 1977 after the January fire and before it was torn down. The bank had been moved to the new office since about 1963.  There was a home in the back.  

Stan has two scrapbooks that he showed me--one is his record of the bank of Grantsburg (and it's branches) and his own activities as a banker and community supporter including school board and many other volunteer activities and the other his Cushing Tigers scrapbook.  
   If you stop in at Edward Jones in St Croix Falls where Stan and Betty's daughter works, you can see a copy of the Cushing Tiger's scrapbook (which we hope to make a copy of for the Cushing Museum).  
   I had to make an early morning appointment to visit Stan as he was busy this week doing income taxes for others through the AARP help sessions and in his many continuing volunteer activities including the Restorative Justice project in Burnett County 
   I hope to visit again and talk Cushing Tigers history.  

If you would like to read more about the history of the Cushing Bank, --the early history-- you can check out the SELHS newsletter I am working on for release in another week.  Rough draft is viewable and will be updated as I finish it during the biggesty April Snowstorm ever to hit Cushing (according to predictions by Twin Cities forecasters).