An interior view of Taylor Bank's main office in Berlin, Maryland.
During World War I, European countries had borrowed heavily to finance the war effort. With the war over in 1918, massive amounts of gold entered the United States because of the repayment of debts and marked the beginning of the so-called "Bally-hoo years."
A time of profound exuberance in America with grand excesses in morality and spending habits, the stock market soared in the 1920s, reaching unheard of heights by 1927 and encouraged by a low discount rate by the Federal Reserve.
In Berlin, peach crops were in their glory and an annual festival, called Peach Day, was held on North Main Street. Bands were brought in from as far away as Wilmington, Del., for the celebration.
As of December 1925, Taylor Bank's total assets stood at $628,546.13.
At Taylor Bank, part of the normal business procedure included William Holloway and Reese Cropper Sr. boarding a train to Ocean City to collect the deposits of the bank's customers on the island.
The train left Berlin at 4 p.m. and returned at 10 p.m., making for a long work day for the employees. That service was discontinued in 1933.
In 1929, Mr. Holloway suddenly died. He had been the bank's cashier for 22 years. John E. Smith, by seniority, would have succeeded Mr. Holloway but declined consideration in an eloquent letter to Mr. Taylor.
Totally deaf by then, Mr. Smith wrote on June 26, 1929, "However, with the gradual seeping out of hearing, long since, there went with it any delusions I might have had of future positions, and then and not now was the situation a trying one, for I now feel I am too practical to give it more than a passing thought... Of course, there is only one thing we can do, and that is to make Reese Cropper Sr. cashier..."
That decision made Mr. Cropper the youngest cashier in the state.
In 1932, Mr. Taylor, the bank's founder and president, died. He was succeeded as president by Ernest E. Burbage Sr., who had been a director since 1907.
Taylor Bank has had only three chief executive officers since its founding. Calvin B. Taylor, its founder, Reese F. Cropper Sr., and Reese F. Cropper Jr. After Mr. Taylor's death in 1932, Reese F. Cropper Sr. became chief executive officer and was responsible for the bank's day-to-day operations under three presidents.
Back then, it was common practice in small banks for the cashier to run the bank while the president pursued his profession outside the bank. The presidency was an honorary position given to senior directors.
In December 1930, the bank listed assets of $1.068 million.