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Remember When: What Color Were Your (Or Your Parent’s) Checks?

Bank Clipart
Bank Clipart

My Dad was a feed grinder. Oh, he was a lot of other things too. Drove a rendering truck. Worked with his Uncle digging wells. Farmed a little here and there. Drove a milk truck, a road grader.

Turns out when you have a 7th grade education, you do a bit of everything to provide.

But for most of my ‘growing up’ years, he was a feed grinder.

The way he did it has been relegated to the corner of the dust bin of memory, back there with the village smithy, the 6-cent postage stamps, the 8-tracks and black and white TV’s that got all of two channels.

He had a feed grinder truck (in fact, a few through the years) and would go from farm to farm to farm, neighbor to neighbor to neighbor, and grind and mix the corn, oats, hay or whatever needed to be ground and mixed for the animals.

Now, this seems a little quaint, and maybe I’m wrong but…as I recall it was about $3.50 a wagon load? Well, whatever it was, once it was done, it was time to pay the bill.

In the cab of that feed grinder truck, he had check blanks scattered across the dash, all covered with grain dust, cigarette packs (his preference was Raleigh) and bits of this and that.

‘What color ya need’?

Yep. Each bank had it’s own color check blank. My folks banked in Kenneth, Minnesota and there’s was yellow/gold. As I recall (and as usual I may be wrong, but hey, it’s my story) Chandler was white, Edgerton a kind of rose/pink and…well, each bank had it’s own color. So if the farm neighbor said ‘Chandler’, he’d just find the white one and fill ‘er out.

But whoa, whoa, whoa…hold on just a minute you old timer!

What about personal checks? Why didn’t they use their personal checks?

Yeah, well…there was no such thing, least far as I know. That was some new-fangled thing that was up there somewhere in the future. And by the way, just how quaint and old-fashioned was this colored-check bank thing? Well, I recall more than a few times, Dad wouldn’t have, say, an Edgerton check blank so…just take the Chandler Bank check, scratch out ‘Chandler’, write in ‘Edgerton’ and you were good to go! I swear, it would go through. This was small town, rural America. And I loved it.

Of course, these days not only are ‘counter checks’ a thing of the past, checks are quickly becoming a memory as well. I’ve talked to what I call ‘young ‘uns’ who tell me they haven’t written a check in years. It’s all online now, automatic, the bills are paid without a pen and paper. Done.

But the memories aren’t done, not for those of us who trod the planet in an older persons skin. I can still see those rainbows of checks setting on the dash of that feed grinder cab.

And just like the warm memory, you need to blow the dust off them.

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