Photo By David Robert

Not many people think of the clerical people they encounter in offices with affection, but Heritage Bank customers were genuinely upset when teller Jeannie Mason retired in February. People standing in line for a teller window would wave others past them in order to get her as their teller. She once resigned from a bank when management forced her to be a branch manager instead of a teller. On her last day at Heritage, a banner was hung at her window and a party was held.

How did you happen to come to Nevada?

In the late ‘70s, we were looking to relocate from New York. We had checked Connecticut and Pennsylvania, but there was just something that wasn’t there. And so, at the time, my husband’s cousin, her mom lived back east where we did. And in the course of conversation, she had said she hadn’t seen her daughter. She was maybe almost 80 years old and afraid to travel. So we volunteered to come out this way, so she could see her daughter.

What did you think of Nevada?

I absolutely loved it. I know it’s grown a lot, I’ve seen the growth since I’ve been here. But it reminds me so much of the area I lived in back east because before, we had relocated out of the metropolitan area to suburbia to a lovely little place called St. James, Smithtown. And it was like this to me—except, of course, I missed the green. I have to confess that some people were prejudiced when we first moved here because one of my first jobs was at Nevada National [Bank], and there were customers that just would not come to my window because I was from New York, and they thought I was going to be pushy or nasty or mean. But eventually, that all changed, of course. And then I took to it like a duck to water.

Tell me about your banking career.

Do you remember Chemical Bank in New York? Well, at the time, it was Chemical Corn Exchange Bank. They hired me. They started me working at a branch support center. I filed all cancelled checks. I hand posted all the checks that people wrote out of their accounts. I did reconciliation of accounts. It was all done manually except for the posting of the cancelled checks. It was done on a big NCR Postronic machine. Then I got married, and I stayed home until—I had children—until 1971. I saw a bank I passed every day, and I decided to call and see if they were looking for help, and the person I spoke with said they were looking for tellers, and I stayed there from ‘71 until we came to Reno [in 1981]. I worked my way from a teller on the line to system head teller, then head teller, then assistant branch manager, branch manager, so that by the time I came to Heritage, I no longer wanted all that responsibility. I just wanted to work the teller line because I like the personal contact. That was 12 years ago, so I was already 55.

You know that some of your customers went into mourning when you retired.

Bless them. But I see them around town. A lot of them shop where I shop. I met two of them just this past Saturday. I told them that I was retiring, but I wasn’t moving and that I would see them in and about town. One of my customers is going to be 85 at the end of the month, and she told me I’m invited to the celebration, and I told her I would be there. And I’m filling in occasionally at the bank.

What else will you be doing now?

While my husband and I are still upright and mobile, we’d like to visit some of the states I’ve always had a hankering to see. So basically, I would visit all my children and my relatives, who I love dearly, but I’ve never had the time to also take these other side trips that I’d like to do. … So I think it’s just hopefully not the final chapter in my book of life but a new chapter for my husband and I to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...