PEABODY — In an age when many workers change jobs every few years, Bertha Mulley may be unique.
Not only is she 76 and still working, but she's still working for the same company she started with as a teenager. This December, she'll celebrate her 60th year of employment with North Shore Bank in Peabody.
The bank was founded in 1888, which, as someone recently pointed out to Mulley, means that she has been working there for almost half its life and most of her own.
Mulley has risen from teller to assistant vice president during her career and recently spoke with The Salem News about changes she has seen over the years.
What was your first job at the bank?
I was a teller, and back then there were no computers. We had what they call an NCR posting machine, which took care of the ledger cards and passbooks. Every mortgage account and savings account had a ledger card, a 5-by-7 thing, and that got put in the NCR machine, and you keyed in the payment. Everything was done by hand — bookkeeping, big general ledgers.
Did you grow up on the North Shore?
Born and brought up in Peabody. I went to Peabody High School and graduated in '51. I lived in my parents' house until I got married. My husband died 20 years ago. That's one reason I'm still working. I don't want to be home being a couch potato, and I like what I do.
Were you always interested in money?
I really didn't have any special interest in money or banking. Previous to coming here, in high school, during junior and senior year, I worked at Peabody City Hall. I was in various offices there.
Who was mayor then?
Leo McGrath. When he was no longer in office, I (had to leave because I) was not civil service. I was not in high school, and they were hiring at the bank. I decided I liked it, and I do like what I do, because I like detail.
How has the bank changed over the years?
It was called Peabody Cooperative when I started in 1951. It was on the corner of Mill Street and Main Street, where Century Bank is now, a very small building. In May of '52, they completed the bank building that is now 32 Main St. We still call this the main branch. In 1970, we took over Danvers Cooperative Bank, and at that time (we were called) the George Peabody Cooperative Bank. I don't remember exactly when it changed to North Shore Bank — when Fran McCormack became president, and he retired in '09 — the early 2000s, it got changed to North Shore Bank.
How have the bank's assets grown?
When I started, our assets were $10 million. Now they're $460 million.
What jobs have you done at the bank?
I did some bookkeeping. I did the printing on an address-o-graph machine on the paid-up share dividend checks. I worked in the mortgage department. Now I do collections — mortgages, consumer loans, not commercial. And I do internal compliance audits to make sure our documents on loans are in compliance with regulations.
Are the regulations more extensive now?
Much more extensive. And I do what they call quality control, a similar process to compliance, but it's done for Fannie Mae, to whom we sell mortgages.
Were you at all affected by the meltdown in 2008?
We're very conservative in our lending. We had no subprime loans.
How many bank presidents have you worked for?
When I started here, there was a president William J.D. Ratcliff, and then after him came Edward Fuller, and then there was Neil Gallagher for a time. Then Francis McCormack; now we have David LaFlamme. When you figure only five in 60 years — they stay here until they're old enough to retire — they like it here, too. It's a very stable place.
What advantages does a local bank like North Shore Bank offer, compared with the big national banks?
We are a community bank, and I think a community bank can give more personal attention to their customers, depositors and borrowers. You can go into any office and talk to a person — you don't have to call a toll-free number in Connecticut. That's what this bank has always been, and is planning to be.