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Taylor Bank History - World War II

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Taylor Bank's Board of Directors about 1949 (L-R) -- Reese F. Cropper Sr., E. Bowen Quillin, Victor R. Strickland, J. Richard Phillips Jr., Charles S. Ludlam, Ernest E. Burbage Sr., Victor H. Boston, Roland W. Beauchamp, William E. Thomas, Dr. Lee W. Warren, Nutter J. Wimbrow Sr.
The Black Poultry Market

After the United States became a participant in World War II in December 1941, the value of poultry began to increase as the demand for foodstuffs around the world escalated. As the war progressed and the economic importance of poultry continued to grow, the federal government imposed a ceiling of 28 cents per pound for the duration of the war.

Though most abided by the regulation, a black market sprang up that paid much higher prices for poultry. At the same time, the black marketeer assumed the responsibility of transportation to the market place.

The temptation was too inviting for many local farmers who took advantage of the 40 to 50 cents a pound paid in the black market. One Berlin citizen remembered a farmer shopping in town with his money in a bucket during that time.

Internal Revenue agents, backed by a government decree that taxes be paid on the illegal profits, came to Berlin. Then bank investigators searched local bank accounts for illegal gains.

But just as quickly, the agents and investigators were ordered off the case with no explanation. As recently as 1960, it wasn't uncommon when a musty bill was used in a transaction for older residents to smile and say "Must be chicken money."

The War Years

Another incident involving poultry, an industry that contributed greatly to Calvin B. Taylor Banking Company's growth in the 1940s, involved government poultry inspectors assigned to identify so-called "reject" birds.

In many instances, arrangements made with the inspector resulted in the number of rejects increasing dramatically. That created a market in which the unfit birds brought more profitable returns than the normal birds.

During that time, poultry plants from Millsboro, Del., to Snow Hill, Md., were customers of Calvin B. Taylor Bank. The numerous support businesses, such as feed mills, made poultry the primary contributor to the economy of Berlin and to the growth of the bank.

With the war in progress, few consumer goods were available except for essentials, which were rationed by the government. Little could be done with earnings but purchase war bonds or deposit them at the bank until the end of the war.

Also during this time, the nurseries were sold, ending another phase of the county's agricultural history. Harrison's Nurseries had been northern Worcester County's largest employer.

Post-War Years

The post-war economy boomed as people satisfied their pent-up demand for goods they hadn't been able to buy during the war or even as far back as the Depression.

The national banking system was well-prepared to meet the demands for new and modern household furnishings, automobiles, televisions, etc. Bank lending in general exploded after the war.

Consumer buying power, fueled by bank lending, began to exceed the capabilities of companies producing the products, resulting in a spiral of wage and price increases.

Taylor Bank, rather than jump head-long into consumer loans, continued its policy of small loans on open notes. The bank wouldn't establish a consumer loan department for 15 more years, in 1965.

By 1949, Taylor Bank needed major additions and general upgrading of its buildings. At that time, teller counters were installed and a separate bookkeeping department was added along with a larger vault, all housed in a new two-story building added to the rear of the original structure.

The original bank building's entire space was turned into a lobby and teller counters. Reese F. Cropper Sr.'s office was simply a desk in the lobby area with a small railing around it. Completely open to the public, he ran the bank from that space for 18 years. Vincent Holland kept the corporate records without a private office, as well.

During the 1940s, Taylor Bank's assets grew from $1,078,273 to $4,215,831.

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