Neither Snow Nor Jail Could Stop Louise Herring


By Louise McCarren Herring

Editor's note: This excerpt from Sharing the American Dream was also published recently in CUES' 50th anniversary supplement to the June 2012 issue of Credit Union Management magazine.

I almost always organized credit unions at a change of a shift or before or after working hours. One night, I went to a meeting of teachers in Columbus, Ohio. The meeting ended about 9 p.m. and, since I had scheduled a meeting with the Dayton, Ohio, police for early the next morning when the late shift went off and the first shift came on, I decided to drive the 70 miles to Dayton that night. Even though it was snowing and most people would have said in those days that it was foolish to drive at night, I started out.

I got to the outskirts of Columbus and saw a street car parked at what I thought was the end of the line. I passed the street car and was immediately stopped by the police for passing a street car that was loading and unloading. An officer took me back to headquarters downtown where I was told I either had to pay a fine, post bond or go to jail. Because of the snowy night, many officers were sitting around either coming off duty or waiting to go on. They listened as I explained that I could do none of these things because I had to be in Dayton early the next morning to organize a credit union for the police force there.

As I explained what a credit union was and the good it could do for working people, the officers sitting around started to pitch money up on the table to pay my fine. I made each person who contributed to my fine give me his name and address so I could repay him. Finally enough money came in to pay the fine and I was dismissed, with a date to return to organize a credit union for them.

They thought the idea was so good they were willing to pay to have a credit union organized. It gave me the opportunity to tell them, as I have told so many groups, that no one should pay to get a credit union. (Roy F.) Bergengren and (Edward A.) Filene had secured the laws and organized the credit unions as a public service. Those who received this service without cost or obligation had a responsibility to see to it that anybody who wanted a credit union should get it just as they did–without cost or obligation. Bergengren often paid lawyers and other local people to organize credit unions. He never paid me because I felt it was a great privilege to organize credit unions in the hours I was not working on a full-time job.

The first credit union I organized was for the members of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. I knew nothing about organizing credit unions so I spent the entire meeting reading aloud the bylaws and explaining the brief but exciting history of the credit union movement. Later on, I was able to cut down the time it took to organize a credit union.

Louise McCarren Herring (deceased), a member of the CUES Hall of Fame was president of Communicating Arts Credit Union and of Cincinnati Credit Union.

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, CUES has re-released in PDF format Sharing the American Dream, first published 25 years ago. Download it free.



Compass Subscription