In the early 1950’s, a very young black man walked into a bank in downtown St. Louis, Missouri to get a loan. He was carrying an old acoustic guitar his late uncle left him. He had learned to play and wanted to buy an electric guitar and amp and start a band. The guitar was his collateral.
The bank was Mound City Trust Company, and the banker was my father, Oliver Troxler, head of the loan department. He had been sizing up this young man as he spoke. When he finished telling his story, Ollie Troxler looked him in the eye and said, “The bank cannot accept a guitar as collateral for a loan … but I believe you are an honest young man and will repay the loan. So I am going to lend you the funds myself. I’ll charge you the same interest the bank charges. But I want you in that chair every Friday to make your payment. ”
The young black man was Chuck Berry. He took the funds and bought his white Gibson and an amp. Then he went to Chicago and found Muddy Waters and asked him who to record with. Muddy sent him to his studio, Chess Records. If you’ve seen the movie “Cadillac Records”, you should, just for Chuck's audition scene with Leonard Chess. Chuck Berry never forgot my father’s kindness to him, and started a weekly visit that lasted thirty years.
Dedicated people with vision, like Chuck Berry, willing to fearlessly take on great odds, can achieve great things and change history. Ollie Troxler had no idea when he made a personal loan to a young man that he would go out and change the world with his guitar, but that’s what happened. To a community banker, it was the only fair thing to do. Oliver Troxler spent 50 years at Mound City Trust Company, helping his community.
Chuck never knew it, but Oliver Troxler was continuing his father's legacy of community support. His father had owned a hardware store, and Ollie had to work there as a child, and never liked it. When he graduated high school and got his first job as a clerk at Mound City Trust Company, he was reaching beyond his blue-collar legacy. So when he met Chuck, he saw another young man reaching for more.
I am now married to a blues musician who loves to tell this story. He tells his fellow musicians, "my wife's father financed Rock N Roll", and in a way I guess he did.
-- Mary Luketich, www.TroxlerSoftware.com/about/