OFFICERS CLUB Inc.
With the 40th anniversary upon us, relate how I came to be at the forefront, of the beginning of the end, of the grand old Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd.
On May 21st 1981, at 1:15pm, I was summoned from my lunchhour game of Billiards on the 11th Floor of Head Office, by our Chief Economist. He wanted to know how long it would take my two best Telex Operators to prepare a Telex about so long! Without knowing the complexity of the Document/s I was unable to satisfactorily answer his enquiry. So I was asked to accompany him to the Bank's Winter Boardroom on the 5th Floor, one Floor directly above my Cable Department. When I entered, and saw the Bank's entire Board of Directors, and Top Executive assembled, I knew something big was afoot.
I was shown the size and complexity of the lengthy communication, to all Australian Stock Exchanges, and also to AAP and Reuters News Agencies, and the major TV and Radio Networks.
Having merely glimpsed the contents, I gleaned enough to know it was hot news. Our Managing Director, Vic Martin, who sometimes joined us "boys" for a Beer at The Cosmopolitan, then said to me "Having seen what you've just seen, I'm afraid we'll have to keep you here, until the last Stock Exchange in Perth closes at 5pm!". So I wandered across the huge wood-panelled room, and selected a comfortable plush chair, from the many around the huge Boardroom Table, and placed it near a window overlooking Martin Place. Luckily I had my smokes (filthy habit, which I gave up in '82) in my shirt's top pocket, so I sat there smoking and enjoying the view, while contemplating what my future would be like under these new arrangements I'd just had a glimpse of. It's History now, that the Bank's Board had recommended to Shareholders that they accept the generous offer of a merger with The National Bank of Australasia Ltd, and that's how the good-old middling sized CBC, joined with the middling sized NBA to form a large sized NAB. And I was the first of the thousands of ordinary CBC workers to know of it But it wasn't much use knowing it, if I couldn't tell of it !!
While I was locked-up, unbeknown to me, our two 'gun' Telex Operators, Bev Wilson and Jenny Botha, were also locked-up in the Telex Room, under the guard of two of the Bank's Executives. The other 4 or 5 Telex Operators were locked out of the Room, and had to catch up with their work after 5pm. You can imagine the weird and wonderful rumours that were flying about the Head Office building containing hundreds of people, when word speedily spread of my "kidnapping", and of not being seen since; and of 2 Telex Operators being locked-up under guard all afternoon.
When I finally got to The Occidental Hotel around 6pm, the crowd of Bank drinkers was much bigger than usual. The stickybeaks had joined the ranks of the regulars, knowing full well I would go there for "a drink" after work. The place was buzzing with speculation as I entered, but soon subsided as whispers of "He's here" & "Here he is", spread through the throng. The place fell silent, as I took a big long slurp of a Schooner someone passed to me. I've never enjoyed so much rapt attention in my life. I briefly told them the basic facts I'd learned from my glances at the text, and then the questions came at me in a flurry. I felt like Prime Ministers must feel, when trying to answer a gabble of questions at a Press Conference!
R.I.P. CBC ...................................................................... Frank Condon, 14th May 2021.