Capital Region Scrapbook: The keys to a rewarding career

Friends of George Gifford could have taken him out to lunch to celebrate his 50th year at Mohawk Nat

Friends of George Gifford could have inscribed a pocket watch or wrapped up some cuff links.

They could have taken pal George out to lunch to celebrate his 50th year at Mohawk National in Schenectady.

In the end, tellers, clerks and bank directors decided Ford had a better idea. That was the automaker’s shiny new 1949 Club Coupe, a sporty blue car the bank crew decided to buy for Gifford during the spring of 1948.

“I always thought my best friends were the officers and employees of the Mohawk National Bank and now I know it,” said Gifford, shortly after Mohawk vice president A.L. Reid gave him the keys to the road machine in back of the bank at 216 State St.

The 66-year-old Gifford had joined the outfit as a messenger boy in 1898 and became Mohawk’s sixth employee. He stayed on the job during his years at Union College, and eventually began handling cash and coins instead of notes and letters.

President in 1924

Gifford became assistant cashier in 1916, was promoted to cashier in 1920, director in 1922 and president in 1924.

Gifford watched Mohawk grow. By 1948, the bank had logged more than $15 million in assets and employed more than 30 people.

Gifford did more than watch deposits and withdrawals. He was a member of the Mohawk Club and the Mohawk Golf Club. St. George’s Lodge was another one of his stops. He attended services at the First Presbyterian Church.

Everyone seemed to like George. Charles Brown, 94 and the oldest bank director, was on hand for the Ford presentation. A crowd of women, all Mohawk employees, gathered around Gifford and his new toy for a photograph.

George had known some kind of gift was coming his way, but was not expecting a new ride. “I’m dazed,” he told reporter Bob Lawrence of the Schenectady Gazette.

Gifford lived at 9 N. Church St. in the city’s Stockade section. And while he knew safe places for bundles of cash and other valuables inside the bank, he needed a secure spot on Church Street.

“Mr. Gifford, whose home is situated where garages are much in demand, was perplexed . . . with the problem of finding a place in which to keep his car,” Lawrence wrote.

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