Employee marks 50 years at Groton bank

Alan Christopher, senior vice president of the First National Bank of Groton, stands in front of the bank he has worked at for the past 50 years.
Alan Christopher, senior vice president of the First National Bank of Groton, stands in front of the bank he has worked at for the past 50 years.
Photo by Linda Competillo

During the 1950s, Anthony (Tony) and Mildred (Mid) Christopher were busy raising their five children on Lincoln Avenue. As did many in Groton in those days, Tony worked at Smith-Corona, while Mid devoted herself to caring for their home and children.

With two older brothers, Jim and Dave, and two younger sisters, Mary and Michelle, Alan Christopher was the middle child of the Christopher family.

Alan’s roots have always been planted in Groton, and he also worked at Smith-Corona on Saturdays and during the summers while in high school. He also recalls spending parts of his summers “doing hay” for 25 cents an hour on Jim Cornelius’ and John Kocis’ farms.

After graduating from Groton High School in 1969, it was just one year later that Alan began his summer of 1970 back at Smith-Corona until he learned of a job at the First National Bank of Groton as a part-time file clerk, and he did not hesitate to seize that opportunity.

On June 18, Alan will celebrate his 50th year as an employee of the First National Bank of Groton, where today he is the senior vice president, which was a slow and steady climb for him.

When Alan was in high school, he readily admits that he was “just an average student” but that he did love math and science. What he loved the most, however, was sports.

“I played as many sports as I could,” Alan said. “I wrestled, played basketball, baseball, football and even acted in a couple of school plays.”

He was not sure what he wanted to pursue after high school but credits his guidance counselor Margaret Clare, for steering him toward business administration at SUNY Delhi.

When Alan started his summer job at the bank after his first year at Delhi, he opted not to return there that fall. He knew he had found his niche at the bank and wanted to stay there.

The next two years were quite a whirlwind for Alan. He began attending classes at Tompkins Cortland Community College to pursue his accounting degree while simultaneously working at the bank. By then, he was a teller, though still part-time, and he still remembers his hourly wage was $1.90.

Back then, the bank was located on the corner of Main and West Cortland streets in the same building that the Robert C. Dempsey Insurance Company is housed today, TC3 was located on Main Street where the Schoolhouse Gardens apartments are today, and Alan still lived on Lincoln Avenue.

“I had to wear a tie as a bank teller, so I would run home in between classes to change my clothes so I wouldn’t have to be dressed up for classes,” Alan said.

In 1973, Alan received his accounting degree from TC3 and then moved into a full-time position at the bank as teller and bookkeeper.

Alan recalled some of the things he needed to do in that era, such as keeping handwritten bank journals and hand-posting on customers’ bank books and ledger cards that were kept at the bank.

“There were no account numbers on customers’ checks or accounts,” Alan said. “We had to keep everything in alphabetical order.”

Alan became the assistant cashier in 1974, which qualified him as an official bank officer, and from then until now, he moved up the ranks to become a loan officer, vice president and cashier, vice president and chief financial officer, and now the senior vice president.

Alan was especially proud to say that the bank was measured at $6 million in assets when he started and is at $200 million today.

Outside of his life at the bank, Alan has never lost his love for sports. He enjoys golfing at Stonehedges. In fact, it was his friend, Steve Gobel, current president and CEO of the Groton bank, who told Alan about the job while they were golfing there back in 1970.

Through the years, Alan has bowled on leagues at the old Corona Club and played in the softball leagues in the early ’80s at Ross Field, which was incidentally named for Alan’s former driver education and gym teacher, Dick Ross.

While at Delhi, Alan took a tennis course as one of his physical education electives and very quickly knew he had found the sport he loved the most. Since then, Alan has been a year-round player, playing tennis as much and as often as he can.

Alan has played on various tennis leagues in Cortland and Ithaca over the years, competed in tournaments and played for the past 10 years with his current group of about 15 players who play three times a week at SUNY Cortland in the summers. He also plays indoors one night a week in the winter months with the Wheeler Group.

In the mid-’90s, Alan also gave tennis lessons to students through the Groton Recreation Program.

“My favorite part of that was the ‘dollar serve’ where I would give the kids a dollar if they could return my serve,” Alan said.

Alan’s parents, Tony and Mid, moved to Maryland in 1975 and still live there today. He also has two daughters, Katy and Brynn, alumnae of GHS in 1997 and 2000, respectively, and four granddaughters who all live in Delaware.

When asked why he still lives in Groton when his family has all moved away, Alan said, “I like our small community, my tennis group and golfing, and I love that the people I work with at the bank are like another family to me.”

Alan also said he enjoys the work he does with human resource management and still loves math and algebra.

Due to COVID-19, the bank is unable to welcome the public to stop in for cake in the lobby to celebrate Alan’s 50-year anniversary, so if you would like to congratulate him, you have an opportunity to get creative.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Vintage at the Barn flea market

Vintage at the Barn, 800 S. Main St., will hold its first flea market of the season from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday June 13. They will be following CDC guidelines requiring masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing.
GPL at ‘The Barn’

The Friends of the Groton Public Library (GPL) undertook the project this spring to bring the original 1917 furniture from the GPL front reading room “back to life.” An oak table and four Windsor armchairs have been beautifully repaired and restored by Barry and Barry Siebe, owners of Vintage at the Barn.

The furniture will be on display Saturday, June 13 at the Vintage at the Barn flea market for all to see before the furniture is stored to await the reopening of the library.

Planning board vacancy

The town of Groton is seeking an individual to fill a vacant position on the Town of Groton Planning Board. Applications are available at the Town Clerk’s Office, 101 Conger Blvd., or online at townofgrotonny.org.

Applications must be returned by mail to Town Clerk’s Office, PO Box 36, Groton, NY 13073, emailed to townclerk@grotontown.com or dropped off in person.

Traveling Cafe

MoMo’s Traveling Café will be visiting the Speedway parking lot Friday, June 12 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Call ahead for orders at (315) 246-4878. Credit cards are accepted.

They will offer fresh breaded haddock sandwiches for $8. French or curly fries and coleslaw may be added for $11.95. Full menu may be viewed at https://momoscafe.webs.com/menu.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment