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To Chevy with love

Kaitlynn Reily | Friday, December 5, 2008

I got the news Thursday morning that one of the longest relationships of my life was coming to an end.

A friend sent me the link to the Washington Post article, and my heart sank as I read of your imminent end. Your own Web site had no such announcement, and I wonder if the pain is too overwhelming for you to announce yourself that you are leaving me. The article said you could not comment.

The Post’s headline – “Capitol One to buy local banking icon Chevy Chase” – broke my heart.

Times are tough, I know, but I thought you were going to be okay. When other banks around the country failed, you seemed to remain resolute. I trusted my money with you. I knew you would keep it safe.

But I read that you are unable to survive the current financial crisis, and that within the first three months of next year, Capitol One will buy you, for a sum of $520 million in cash and stock, acquiring the 250 branches that have bordered the highways and byways of my youth.

I read that your branches will be “rechristened under the Capitol One logo.” But I’ll always remember your beautiful brick buildings, your white-columned porticos, your large red signs and your plentiful ATMs.

And I’ll never forget our good times together.

The first time I was aware of the concept of banking was at one of your branches. My Girl Scout troop was given a tour, and we all received little Chevy Chase duffel bags. I used mine for sleepovers and soccer practices until it was worn.

Growing up, I placed every check I received, for birthdays, for graduations, for First Communion, in my Chevy Chase Bank savings account. Per my parent’s rules, I could not take the money out until I went to college, but you kept it safe and my money grew, if only a little, with interest.

My friend’s mom worked for you when I was younger, and one time, she took us to see an Orioles game from your box seats. Those were the days.

The summer before I left for college, I opened a checking account, and received my first Chevy Chase Bank check card. You’ve watched as I’ve turned in different paychecks from different jobs. You let me withdraw money from ATMs when I studied abroad, with no extra fee.

And this summer, when my check card was close to expiring and I was afraid I would not receive my new card before I left to return to school, I called you, nervous. You told me you would send it to me right away, and two days later, I received my brand new card in the mail.

I didn’t know at the time it would be the last new Chevy Chase Bank card I’d ever receive.

After I learned that Capitol One would soon buy my beloved bank, I opened my wallet. What’s in my wallet?

My Chevy Chase Bank check card.