BANKS Summer-Fall 2010
JUST THREE WEEKS AWAY! Saturday & Sunday
October 9th and 10th The 75th Reunion of the
Thomas Marion Banks Family
Remembering Lee and Alice Banks by Bobby Banks, Augusta, Georgia Born February 4, 1898, in Stephens County, Georgia, Henry “Lee” Banks was the eighth child of Thomas Marion “Bud” Banks and Georgia DeLura Acree. Lee’s industrious nature was evident as a young teenager when he landed his very first job with the railroad. Other jobs would follow, eventually leading him to build several of his own successful businesses. Lee and Alice Mozell Lamb were married in 1932. By 1935, they had two natural-born children, Robert Lee “Bobby” Banks and Annette Banks (Norman). In 1940, Lee and Alice welcomed two year old Joan (Lovingood) and Jimmy (an infant) into the family and raised them as their own. Daddy was a man of many talents. He worked on the railroad as a teen. He was a barber, and owned a restaurant, a dry cleaning plant, and several other businesses. He also designed and manufactured the first boat tie-down strap in the factory above the cleaners. I remember the time when I had just graduated from UGA with a business degree, and was heading back home with the idea that I might apply some of my recent knowledge to Dad’s business, Banks Café. I was excited about seeing business in-the-works, and asked Dad if I could take a look at his restaurant books. “I don’t use books,” he reminded me. Curiously, I asked how he could possibly run a business without keeping records, and how he determined how much to charge his customers. He sat me down to explain. He said, “I only deal in cash. I put all the cash in my pocket. When bills come due, I pay them with cash. I pay all the help with cash. I buy supplies with cash. At the end of the month, if I come up short, well, that’s when I have to raise my menu prices! Banks Café was opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You could get a good meal, and even spend the night on one of the bunks Dad rented out. At $1 per night, a man could stay in the barracks-type sleep area upstairs – but no women were allowed. If someone couldn’t pay, he let them stay for free. Being open for business 24/7 meant he had to double-up on staff, so I worked as one of Dad’s three cooks for a while. Floyd was one of the other cooks, and despite his love of whiskey, he did a pretty good job most of the time. Dad paid Floyd $65 a week for his work. The other cook and I each made $75 a week. That seemed unfair to me, so I asked Dad about it. He agreed to raise Floyd’s weekly pay, but had a plan. He said he would have to fire Floyd, but would give me the authority to hire him back at $75 a week. Floyd was very happy about the pay-raise. But, within a short time, Floyd started slacking, and I ended up carrying a big portion of his work. As it turns out, the extra $10 a week was going straight to his favorite beverage! Well, this pay-raise didn’t turn out quite the way I had Continued page 2
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Lee & Alice Banks by Joan Lovingood
Welcome Noah Christopher Durrant
Tim Dixon says Farewell to Army
Lee & Alice Banks by Thomas Dixon
Contact me with your news!! Donna Banks Dodd 3425 Spinnaker Way Acworth, GA 30102 678-574-7071
expected, so Dad told me about his plan. He said for me to fire Floyd, and that he would turn around and hire him back at $65 a week. Everything went back to normal, and Floyd worked for Dad 14 years. My Dad loved people, and found such joy in helping them. If you were hungry, he fed you; if you needed a place to sleep, he had sleeping rooms above the restaurant. But, Daddy’s greatest pleasure was his family – brothers, sisters, Mama and children. Daddy’s family is well represented in this world with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren carrying the names of Banks ancestors from past generations: Lee, William, Thomas Marion and Robert.
Joan Lovingood, Gainesville, GA We went to live with Lee and Alice when I was just two. Jimmy was a baby. Jimmy naturally called them Mama and Daddy; I called them Mama and Lee. Our biological mother would not reenter our lives until we were teenagers. We both loved Lee and Alice so much. I remember Jimmy standing on the porch crying “come back” when Lee went to work. Jimmy would later change his last name to Banks so that his children would bear the name of the man he so dearly loved. Mama (Alice) worked at a cotton mill early on, and Lee as a barber at Camp Gordon. They had a dry-cleaning business called Cook’s Cleaners, and of course their legendary restaurant, Banks Café. They were a perfect team. Lee was the entrepreneur with the business ideas, and Mama was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. They were always together. Walk into Banks Café any time of day, and you would likely see Lee greeting the customers and Mama “dippin” dinners, filling the orders that hung by clothespins on the ticket-line. Lee knew everybody’s name, and was truly sincere when asking about their families. He loved people, and they loved him! I’ll always remember Lee’s laugh! What a great sense of humor he had! On one occasion in particular, Lee spent some time in the hospital very sick and having trouble breathing. The doctors had Lee on a personal respirator known as The Bird Respirator, named for its inventor, Dr. Forrest Bird. Lee was amused by this respirator named “Bird” and would refer to it as The Duck. Though sick and struggling to breathe, Lee could be heard calling a nurse to “GET THE DUCK!” It was just like him – trying to give others something to make them smile. I so love thinking back to those early years. I remember our green Mercury truck, Bonanza and The Fugitive playing on the television, and Lee taking his foot baths in the evenings. After drying his feet, he would apply his favorite BGO ointment. Mornings were special times for us, too. Lee got up early, and would turn on a small space heater to warm the kitchen. He would prepare our breakfast, and then wake us just before he left for work. Lee Banks was a man of faith. With the café never closing, he wasn’t able to attend church services as often as he wanted; but, he always tithed his 10% - and more when the church and community had special needs. He had assured our pastor of his willingness to help. I heard Lee on more than one occasion say that he would provide whatever it takes. He was a giver; and, the gift of education was one of his greatest gifts to his children. Lee was the facilitator. He and Mama worked extremely hard to provide this for us, and were so proud. Each of us did achieve Masters Degrees and so enjoyed our professions. They did not live to observe us as we progressed, but knew we were prepared to follow our dreams. Bobby and Annette were educators; I was in nursing education, and dear Jimmy, a pharmacist. Lee’s gifts were from the heart. He was an admirable and courageous man!! 1969 was a year of heartbreak for our family when an auto accident claimed the lives of the loving mother and father who had raised us as their own. The 2 ½ mile double-funeral procession wove its way to a burial plot with a double headstone so fittingly inscribed “Together Always”. Lee and Mama had prepared their final resting place long before the accident - with everything except the dates on the headstone. I believe Lee’s life successes were largely due to his ability to relate to people and show fairness and equality to his fellow man.
FAMILY NEWS! Shannon and John Durrant, along with big brothers, Connor and Davis welcomed new baby, Noah Christopher Durrant on June 4, 2010. According to Shannon, the scene that Friday was right out of the movies...complete with mom telling dad to pull over on the way to the hospital because baby is coming - and dad choosing instead to drive 60 mph in the emergency lane. Arrived at the hospital 4 minutes before Noah was born. All's well that ends well. Noah is the grandson of Sharon & Tom Cook, great-grandson of Irene (Banks) Davis Callahan. Tom, Sharon and daughter Courtney and TJ have just returned from a trip to England and Scotland. With our Scottish heritage, (Tom's mom was a Macintosh and Mama Banks a McClain) it was a trip that Tom had always wanted to take. We celebrated his birthday while in Edinburgh. The whole family was here in Aug. for Noah's baptism We were so happy that Tom's dad, who is now 93 yrs. old, was able to baptize the baby. He has now baptized all his daughters, performed their marriage ceremonies and baptized all five of the great grandsons. If Courtney and TJ want to continue the tradition they can't make him wait too long! Sharon & Tom Cook
Tim Dixon says Farewell to Army
Uncle Lee & Aunt Alice by Thomas Dixon, Lavonia, Georgia When I was growing up we never heard Uncle Lee’s name mentioned without Aunt Alice. It was always Uncle Lee and Aunt Alice. We would go to visit my father's (Willard) family in south Georgia and always stopped in Augusta and visited with Uncle Lee and Aunt Alice as well as Daddy's sister and family. Bobby Banks was two years younger than me, but we did play together and get along real good. I remember lots of times visiting with Uncle Lee, Aunt Alice, Bobby and Annette on that dirt street in Augusta, wondering just what kind of place this was as there were no dirt roads in Greenville County, SC. But we had lots of fun playing. One thing that stands out in my mind was the day I was discharged from the Air Force at Hunter AFB, in Savannah, Georgia. I headed up the road back to Greenville and decided to stop in Augusta. I pulled the car into a parking place in front of Uncle Lee's Cafe and walked up the street to the Dime Store, where I purchased a gold 8 X 10 inch picture frame. I went back to the car and got my discharge certificate and framed it right there on Broad Street. I then went into the Cafe. As soon as I walked in the Cafe, Uncle Lee came running toward me and grabbed and hugged me. He called all his people to him and told them that I was his nephew! He guided me over to one of the booths and told the waitresses to bring all of the food out that I could eat— (back row) Thomas Marion (Bud) Banks, Sarah, Thomas Dixon and to bring two plates. The two of us ate and talked—of course with Uncle Lee doing most of the talking. (front row) Volina Dixon Roper, Rodolph Dixon, Martha Jane I also remember when Uncle Lee and Aunt Alice lived in Salley, SC. Granny Banks (Sarah) always wanted to visit, so Daddy and Mama would get all of us in the car and we would take the trip. Salley was always a trip that got us back home after dark and we had to feed the animals and chickens and milk the cows late at night.
Next Newsletter—March 2011 Do you have family information to share for the next newsletter? Let me hear about births, graduations, weddings, engagements, family recipes, stories, memories and newsletter ideas! Send information by email to email@example.com or by US Mail to: Donna Dodd, 3425 Spinnaker Way, Acworth, GA 30102 Phone: 678-574-7071