Passbook to Freedom, a Coming-of-Age Poem

Updated on September 29, 2019
Mark Tulin profile image

Mark Tulin is an ex-therapist from Philadelphia who lives in Southern California. He writes poetry about a variety of topics.

Mementos of Childhood

There's a lot of mementos of childhood that my mother kept in the hall closet of our house. There was the baseball glove that I played little league ball with, cub scout badges, report cards, and medical records stored in a cigar box.

One powerful keepsake was my first passbook from PSFS bank in which I entrusted the bank with my entire life's savings, which at the time was $1.50. It was an exciting and scary event. Banks can be intimidating to small children. There are a lot of adults wearing suits, a bulky security guard greeting you at the door with some degree of suspicion, and a mysterious bank vault with who knows how much money. Despite all these obstacles, I still handed the money over to the teller.

I share with you my experience of making my first bank deposit, Passbook of My Youth. Enjoy the poem and video.

Poem: Passbook to Freedom

I saved my first bankbook

as a memento from my youth.

The bank was PSFS

and the gracious teller

stood tall and authoritative,

proudly welcomed my fortune with open hands

into her vaults of wealth.

In a fleeting transaction,

with a slip and a pen attached to a chain,

I opened my first bank account

as if I enrolled in the Army.

I leafed through the mostly blank pages

of my passbook to freedom,

hoping to build on my future

as a successful investor.

Feeling grown and prosperous,

I calculated the interest

through the metrics of my mind.

On such and such a date,

Mark Tulin had deposited one-dollar and fifty-cents

in blue dot matrix ink,

commemorated by the bank’s official stamp

of approval.

I kept the passbook under my pillow,

and checked the numbers at night,

waiting for the interest rate to grow

as if I had planted a Sunflower seed,

hoping it would bloom in a day.


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    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      9 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks, Lora. You’re right Lora, a very important event in becoming an adult in our society.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      9 months ago

      A poem that truly commemorates this important event in going from childhood to the world of adulthood. Very fine work, Mark, in communicating the anticipation a child would have! Thanks for sharing.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      9 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Lorna, it did seem to be a bit of a letdown to swap money for a passbook. But it was a rite of passage.

    • drylen profile image

      Charlie Halliday 

      9 months ago from Scotland

      Good work Mark. All those dreams of how life was going to pan out as the bank balance grew. Unfortunately I was better at withdrawals than deposits.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      9 months ago

      I love the sentiments attached to this poem Mark. I also remember opening my first bank account. I had filled my money box to the brim and I remember my mum taking me into the bank to open the account. However, I also remember being very sad as the passbook felt very light compared to the heavy money box. The innocence of youth.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      9 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      You have a good memory, John. It probably made the whole experience less threatening.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Nice work, Mark. I enjoyed the poem. I remember as part of our early schooling we had to open a bank account with a passbook and the deposit transactions were actually done through the school on "banking day."

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      9 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks, Brenda. Magical thinking, I guess.

    • Brenda Arledge profile image


      9 months ago from Washington Court House

      A wonderful poem, Mark.

      I remember the bank as a child too.

      If only it would grow over night, but i didn't sleep with it under my pillow.

      Great write.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      9 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank Ruby. They are out real treasures.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      9 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This is such a joy to read. Our childhood memories are so important, they take us back to happy and innocent times. I enjoyed reading that you kept your precious passbook under your pillow. Cheers...


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