Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach about its rich past

On the move with Bank of America



The Coronavirus COVID-19 has brought so much grief to our world and its people. Having people locked up insides their homes and not be able to travel freely about is horrible.

But we must look on the bright side until this epidemic is over and just a bad memory.

There is one bright side to this latest virus attack in that  people are not spending their money as fast as they had before and with all that extra cash on hand it may be time to put it in a bank account.

This week we’ll remember a most unusual bank branch with a very familiar name.

In 1970 the Bank of America had four branches in Huntington Beach and were planning to open a fifth bank branch in the shopping center at Beach Boulevard and Atlanta Avenue.

At this time there was not a suitable building inside the center for the bank and so one was to be build there, but in the mean time something was needed sooner.

Longtime area residents may remember what the solution that the bank came up with for depositors before that fifth bank branch’s building started construction.

The bank held a grand opening on Thursday, April 9, 1970, when the bank rolled in their mobile branch, a 25-foot Condor mobile coach, a “bank on wheels.”

The public was invited to attend this opening and to meet its new bank staff and its new bank manager, John Stickles.

Those who attended that early opening day event received balloons and memo pads to take home with them.

On hand to welcome the rolling bank were members of our city council, department heads, Ralph Kiser, the Executive Director of the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce and Howard Matheny, a member of the host committee from the Chamber of Commerce.

Also attending to welcome the public was Al Eskridge, Vice President of  the Bank of America and Bill Peterson, Branch Manager of B of A’s Five Points branch.

While construction of the bank building was going on, Stickles each morning would pick up cash and records from the Five Points branch and drive the coach to the new bank site. He would also drive the coach back to the Five Points location when the  bank closed to record the day’s transactions and see that the cash is placed safely in the vault.

It wasn’t long before a permanent structure was completed and Stickles resumed his duties as bank manager in his new office.

I’ll bet he was glad that he didn’t have to continue driving his “bank on wheels” back and forth each banking day.

Stickles began working for the Bank of America in 1965 after graduating from Chapman College and worked his way up to bank manager of the Brookhurst and Adams branch before taking over as branch manager at this new location.

The mobile banking coach was the fifth B of A’s mobile banking vehicles used in Southern California and was  described as being  a “drive in and drive away bank.”