It’s a drill so etched into the modern workday that most people hardly give it a thought: press a button, wait a few seconds, and an elevator door opens. Press another button, and a few seconds later you’re stepping off onto another floor.

But flash back several decades, and you’ll get a very different picture: the era of elevator operators.

These were the uniformed employees who manually controlled passenger elevators at the Bank’s original headquarters at 925 Grand.

One accompanying picture captures a moment from 1954 when former President Harry S. Truman had an office in the building. Truman is shown shaking hands with elevator operator Jeanne Adams. Installation of the first two fully self-service elevators came in 1979.

Another photo from the 1950s shows elevator operator Emma Marler Blair Severns, who now is 92 years old. For a 2016 Bank employees’ publication, Severns reflected on her time at the Bank and said she still had holiday cards and notes from Truman, as well as $2 bills that he gave to operators each Christmas.


Cynthia Edwards

Information Management Specialist