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The Mortgage Room: 1953

The Mortgage Room: 1953

February 24, 1953. "Suffolk County Federal Savings. Babylon, Long Island, New York. Mortgage room. C.M. Johnson, client." At left, Miss Miller; at right, Miss Information. Large-format negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.


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Only the empty table

With two beautiful pen sets seems to date from an earlier, less bland era. It was designed with a deliberate attempt at attractiveness, not plain-Jane utility like the other furniture.

Empty Desks

Typewriters and steno pads all replaced now by computers. Ahhh the old days!

I know where I'm going on Friday

Friday's my day off from work, and as I live about 20 miles from Babylon I'll have to mosey on down to see if the interior of the bank (now called Astoria Federal Savings after a couple of mergers) is at all recognizable. While there's a newer addition, the main part of the Babylon branch appears to have been built well before 1953. It's a safe bet the ashtrays are gone, alas.

By the way, if you're curious about the fate of a bank shown in a Shorpy photo, the bank-regulation authority (often called the Department of Banking) of the state in which it is located will have a searchable online database of every bank that's ever done business in the state.

Shorpy hits

close to home. Thanks for posting Dave. Located at 180 West Main Street, Babylon Village. Now a branch of Astoria Federal Savings. There is a great mural of a map of Long Island behind the tellers, with a dirigible on it.

Bank Hardware

The fountain pens on the desks appear to have been those made by Esterbrook, and are likely from the late 40's and the 50's. There are single pens in holders, sets with two pens (one for black ink, one for the dreaded red ink), and likely typical bank pens fitted with chains lest they be purloined by a larcenous client. I have a collection of Esterbrooks (and other vintage pens) and recall using one in my high school years.

Book Reader

Suffolk County Federal Savings fell on hard times and was taken over by the Long Island Savings Bank.

Cigarette Disposal

Beside the lady reading the magazine: a freestanding, pedestal base, chromium plated ash tray.

"Mother-in-Law's Tongue"

My eyes were drawn to the plant at the end of the aisle. I would be willing to wager that the 9 inch tiles on the floor are dark green.

Real People ! !

Ah, yes.... a simpler, more congenial time when there were people AVAILABLE to assist you without long lines, without glass plates between you and them, and an actual live person who you could ask a question of and get a polite, intelligent, and direct answer.

As a Long Islander, living not too far from Babylon, I don't beleve this institution remains in its original form. There now exists a Suffolk County National Bank, and a Suffolk Federal Credit Union. Both have locations all over Long Island, but I am not sure if these are spin-offs of the original.

The beholding eye

As for "harsh" lighting, I'd say any hint of that comes from the supplementary floods used for the photo. Fluorescents in those eggcrate grilles gave, intentionally, an even light free of deep, sharp shadows. And overall, I find this rather more inviting and human-friendly than the typical glass, metal and plastic (and wood-free) office environments of today.

Familiarity Breeds 50's Architecture

Ribbon fluorescent lights with eggcrate grilles? Check. Wide slat venetian blinds? Check. Acoustic tiles with round AC ducts? Check. Dark floor tiles with light streaks? Check. Blond wood furniture with pebbled-glass inserts? Check. Post-War Modern Bland, seen in just about every office, bank, post office, school and Government building until replaced by the 2x4 acoustic lay-in ceilings and carpet tiles of the 70's. Not everything mid-century was great.

Warm Fuzzies

Linoleum floor, harsh lighting, blonde furniture, bland acoustic ceiling tiles, mortgages...Looking at this room just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

She's still there!

I assume Suffolk County Federal Savings was swallowed up by one of the current Too Big To Fail banks. Because I can assure you Miss Information works for the one that holds my mortgage.


Where are the computers, and what's that archaic looking machine being used in the background by the gal with her back to us?

Just a hunch

but I bet they used Kodak Film, based on Miss Miller's face.

Miss Miller, Miss Information . .

Where's Miss Appropriation of Funds?

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