Bedford Falls, Lewis County, Kittitas County, and Central Washington have a lot in common…and a lot at stake too.
At Christmas, millions watch the 1946 movie classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While it is labeled “fantasy drama”, the show gives us a glimpse of reality and reminds us of the importance of caring local business owners.
The setting is mythical Bedford Falls, NY, on Christmas Eve. George Bailey, a family man with a wife and four children, was dogged by a greedy banker, Henry Potter, who wanted to shut Bailey Building and Loan Association down. (George inherited the struggling business started by his father).
The people of Bedford Falls trusted Bailey but feared the ruthless Potter. Potter wanted to foreclose on families who fell behind on their mortgages whereas Bailey would work tirelessly to keep them in their homes.
When the movie was filmed, it was a time when people actually did business in the towns they lived in. They shopped at stores along Main Street rather than ordering on-line. If shoppers ordered from the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog, the packages were shipped to the local post office.
Savings and Loans Associations (S&L) — also known as building and loans — were a strong community force assisting people with home mortgages, passbook savings accounts, and certificates of deposits.
Borrowers would sit down face-to-face with S&L managers like Bailey who were their friends and neighbors. There were no “loans by phones.” The transactions were in a downtown building, not by a remote connection to the financial institutions in a distant city.
Thankfully, many communities across America still have people like George Bailey who are their backbones, but staying in business for them is much more challenging today.
Their nemesis isn’t Henry Potter, it is modern on-line giants which undercut them on price and convenience. Unfortunately, those remote behemoths without store fronts in local communities generally are not the sponsors of little league teams, high school bands or community festivals. Local businesses are. READ MORE