The ‘hidey hole’ savings account
A Cliffside family’s finances were usually a private affair, and were not discussed with others. Few people were well off financially, but when a family was able, they saved what they could for a rainy day or for things they hoped to be able to afford some day. During the 1940s, the mill was running full time, times were better, and it was a little easier to put back a few dollars. Losing what little money they had in banks during the depression was still too fresh in their minds for some people to consider entrusting their savings to banks again, so many families had “mattress” or “cookie jar” savings accounts at home.
Lafar and Beula Ruppe lived at the end of South Main Street, and Lafar was working steadily as an electrician’s helper in the mill. He was saving what he could from his earnings, and Beula earned extra money sewing for the public, hoping to eventually accumulate enough to build a home of their own. Their savings “account” was kept safe in an unusual hiding place only they knew about until it became necessary to make a withdrawal from it.
Lafar became ill, was hospitalized, and when the time came for his release, the money for the hospital bill had to come from Lafar’s savings. Their sons were away in service, and since Beula was physically unable to get to the money herself, she had to call on her brother-in-law, Roy Hill, for help.
Their dining room table was kept covered with a tablecloth, and was supported by an unusually large pedestal. This pedestal was hollow, and Lafar had made a hole through the center of the tabletop for access to the space. Folded bills and coins, including the 50-cent pieces Lafar collected, easily passed through the hole.
However, getting it out was another matter. It was an ingenious hiding place, but the hole was not large enough to reach into, so Beula was unable to get to the money she needed. She needed Roy Hill’s strength to tilt the table and turn it over to dump out a sufficient amount to pay the bill. She also needed him to carry the heavy bags of coins to the bank to exchange for lighter weight bills she could take to the hospital to pay the bill.
Roy Hill kept their secret for many years before revealing that they had a “table” savings account, and only then after they had built their new house and no longer kept their savings there.