(c)2012 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL William Max Agee, Bill to his friends, celebrated his 94th birthday on September 10. He was recently honored by his church, Providence Baptist and pastor Scott Gorrell, and Cocke County Mayor Vaughn Moore. I got a chance to meet Bill's family and make a special photo of him with his great granddaughter, Pyper Epley, who was celebrating her 8th week of life. She is the daughter of Molly Ford, the daughter of Jim and Terri Agee.
Friday, September 14, 2012
(Last modified: 2012-09-14 21:58:29)
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

At the middle of September the month is rapidly evaporating with drier air creating the perfect landscape for legions of yellow goldenrods and purple ironweed flowers about our hometown, as we get closer to the Autumn Equinox on the 22nd.

Everywhere I've look along roadsides I've seen new signs that may interest you, some of these attached to businesses and others hinting at directions to take. I've also learned a few things worth sharing such as birthdays, and where my future wanderings may take me. As a promise made to remind you, please make an effort to visit the local farmers market at the Tanner Building off Cosby Highway. During a summer visit I made many photos and share one here and more to come. I hope to entice you to make a visit and you will be surprised at the bargains and people you will meet, as I did.

Perhaps the highlights of last weekend were my reunion trip to the High Oaks Coon Club St. Jude fundraiser, Sept. 8, and the next day at Providence Baptist Church to make photos of Bill Agee. By chance Bill celebrated his 94th birthday on Sept. 10 so I was able to make a photo you see here for that special occasion. He got to hold and make baby talk with his 8-week-old great granddaughter, Pyper Ealy. Think about the span of time standing together at the altar of Providence Baptist Church where Bill has been active and important in securing the new church's future. And last week, according to the Kiwanis Club, Jim McSween and James Finchum celebrated birthdays Sept. 14. With the passing of Charlie Kickliter, former Kiwanis Club president, Jim, 82, and Reid Bailey, 92, are the oldest active Newport Kiwanians.



Allen Freeman on banking


Last week we visited with Allen Freeman and continue our story on his Aug. 31 retirement from National Bank of Tennessee. Allen talked about major bank changes, recently it has been home mortgage disclosure and the onerous reporting burdens brought on by the Great Recession since 2009.

His primary work and interest has been focused on making loans, something he has been doing well for more than 30 years. When he started, it was not uncommon for those wishing to borrow $100 or $200 to make an "oral application." This process probably went something like, "Can you loan me $200 until my tobacco crop comes in?" A handshake was the seal of the deal and promise to pay.

There were no credit checking agencies that could provide much data for rural areas because many people had no credit in what was much more a cash economy than in the 21st century credit economy. Allen recalls handing cash to people who were approved for a bank loan. It wasn't until some years later that loans were made via check that you could carry to the teller to cash.

"You knew people and if you didn't, somebody at the bank did. You knew their parents," he said. That's how he got his first $200 loan from the bank because the bankers knew his father, an honest hardworking man who paid his bills in cash. "Dad put his name on the dotted line."

Smaller consumer loans were popular at the busy bank, and in the 1960s and 1970s Newport Federal Bank then made only mortgage loans. M&P Bank did make consumer loans. NBT also made vehicle loans. "You could buy a new truck for a couple of thousand dollars. . . . A new Thunderbird for $3,000."

There were not many credit cards, people banked cash and borrowed cash and paid it back, too. Many of the borrowers were farmers, much like Allen remained through most of his life.

"We made a good many farm loans," tobacco especially as this was the cash crop once the tobacco warehouses got established with the help of folks like Col. M.M. Bullard. On cold November mornings when sales started at Planters or Tennessee Tobacco Warehouse, Allen and other bankers would be there offering hot coffee, pens, and hospitality.

It is a promotion and service that has disappeared but was well entrenched through the 1980s during the height of the tobacco industry. "You wanted them to deposit tobacco sales money. You gained new accounts and business."

Among the things that have made him the happiest during his banking career include his customers. Allen has gotten to know many people who are like family and friends. And he is pleased to provide some financial help to them. As you might suspect, a busy person at work also extends those habits away from work. He and his family have spent many years farming. Allen and Betty live off Old Greeneville Highway on a portion of farmland that is a small chunk of what used to be the Boyers farm.

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